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Crazy Electronics Show – what to expect from CES 2017

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It’s the first week of a new year and that can mean only one thing, another CES is just around the corner – here we have a look at what we can expect from the world’s biggest consumer tech event.

That’s right, it’s time to awaken from your roast turkey and stuffing-induced coma, chisel the dried chocolate off from around your gob, give the sofa cushions a break of their own and join 175,000 other tech geeks in Las Vegas for a week of devices and vices.

Every year the show appears to reinforce the dominant tech trends of the preceding year. Last year it was IoT and the connected cars hype, which rose to prominence in 2015. Unsurprisingly, early talk this year is about AI. In 2016 we all loved a bit of AI, everyone went a bit mental for it, as they did too for the accompanying machine learning.

Well CCS Insights, the analysis firm, has gotten its analysts to jot down their thoughts ahead of the industry’s biggest consumer tech show. At the top of the list, you guessed it, AI and machine learning.

CCS says machine learning will replace IoT as 2017’s “hot investment area” – aka ‘the biggest buzzword of the year’.

“The internet of Things has been a key buzz phrase at CES for the past two years,” says CCS. “This year we believe that the key focus will shift to machine learning and artificial intelligence which will be prominent themes throughout the event. We predict that ‘machine learning will overtake the Internet of things as a hot investment area in 2017’. The huge potential of machine learning and artificial intelligence will see numerous companies focusing on this space at CES.”

If 2017 is indeed the year AI properly takes off, it makes sense that it will heavily influence the future trajectory of smart assistants – like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s… Assistant (?). Last year, helpy helpers started to take off in a smart home environment, as these bottled up genies began integrating with smart home appliances like Hive, Nest, and other smart four letter words.

The differentiator between competing services largely comes down to the quality, intelligence and ease-of-use of the software, according to CCS’s SVP Martin Garner. “Success in the smart speaker market will be determined by the software platform, not the hardware,” he said.

That makes sense, but there needs to be a broader consumer appeal in the first place. And there’s a fairly sizeable portion of the market that feels like a bit of a tool saying “Hidily Ho Alexarino” to awaken the bloody thing from its slumber before issuing a task they could quite easily have completed themselves in the same time. Although perhaps your correspondent is just projecting.

Elsewhere, CCS expects VR and augmented reality companies to up the ante somewhat in 2017 following a modestly-underwhelming year gone by. This ante upping is expected to be aided by a boom in 360-degree camera availability, with CCS forecasting an integrated dual fisheye lens 360-degree camera smartphone. It even managed to coin a new term for the occasion: “surroundie” – which is marginally more annoying than “selfie” – congrats guys.

Perhaps bravely, CCS predicts smart watches (or ‘wearables’ – insert your preferred term here) won’t utterly tank. However, it has reasoning, reasoning in the form of a smart-analogue hybrid device that will capture the imagination of users instead of ramming a product down their collective throats which is a solution looking for a problem.

Intriguingly, CCS has said the smart shoe is likely to be 2017’s golden goose . “CCS Insight believes smart shoes have significant potential and expect to see further examples at CES building on the announcements made by Under Armour at last year’s show. This supports our prediction that by 2018, smart sports shoes will sell 1 million pairs to become the first mass-market smart clothing.”

Looks like exercise junkies could be the saviours of wearable tech then. Who’da thought it?

  • AI & Machine Learning World


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