The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is one of the biggest tech events of the year as it provides us with a glimpse into our immediate futures. The products and concepts that emerge from the conference show us trends that will dominate throughout the year. For 2018, the trends are clear: voice is the next big platform, AI and machine learningwill make products much smarter, and VR and AR have lost their luster.
Voice assistants will be everywhere
The biggest trend of CES 2018 by far has been the explosive proliferation of voice assistants. Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is ready to leave the home and will be integrated into headphones, dash cams, and even cars. The release of the Alexa development kit and a partnership with chip-maker Qualcomm means we should expect to see Amazon’s assistant grace many more of our devices in the near future.
Keen to take on Amazon, Google and its partners also announced a slew of new devices running Google Assistant. Most notably, devices like the Lenovo Smart Displaywill give users a visual experience for weather, video calls, calendar events, and much more, all powered by Google Assistant. The search giant is also working with automakers to integrate Google Assistants in cars.
Lastly, Microsoft’s Cortana assistant made a showing at CES 2018 with its voice-enabled thermostat and speaker, but Microsoft is still far behind Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. In order for Microsoft to compete against the juggernauts, the company will have to partner with hardware makers to integrate Cortana into products that consumers rely on every day.
This huge push for voice assistant shows that developers and marketers alike have huge opportunities to create unique experiences. As the smartphone market becomes ever-saturated, companies are looking for the next big platform and voice appears to be it. Marketers will have to create new ad experiences tailored for voice platforms and app developers will have to think of how to integrate relevant voice features.
Cars will be smarter than ever
In the past several years of CES, cars have been a huge focal point of the technology industry. Automotive startups like Faraday Future, Byton, and others made splashy announcements for their all-electric cars and even established car brands like Hyundai and Mercedes show off new tech at the conference.
This year, we saw automakers modernizing the driving experience by integrating voice assistants. Kia announced that it would be integrating Google Assistant into its cars in an attempt to make the infotainment experience as hands-free as possible. Unlike 3rd-party head units that run Android Auto with Google Assistant, Kia’s integration will allow drivers to tap into vehicle controls like unlocking doors and adjusting climate controls. And it’s not just Google Assistant that’s being integrated into cars; Toyota announced at the show that it would be integrating Amazon Alexa into its vehicles.