Innovation studio

Top Tech Themes from the Consumer Electronics Show: 2020

18 September 2020

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES: 2020) is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to observe and get a feel for the consumer technology trends of the future.

Here’s our summary of the top tech themes which continue to be manifesting across the consumer tech industry:

Connected Intelligence

From the Internet of Things to the Intelligence of Things, gadgets are becoming smarter and more connected. Enabled by advances in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), facial recognition, object detection and speech recognition, novel and intelligent gadgets will continue to enhance the spaces where we live, work and play.

Last year saw the rise of electronic devices designed for the smart home; from smart TVs and the upscaling of AI chips, to the Nest Hello Smart Doorbell that uses facial recognition and, of course, smart speakers such as the Amazon Alexa and Google Home Hub.

CES:2020 highlights that our love of ‘smart’ devices continues to drive innovation in this area. New devices, as well as new uses for this technology, are being adopted by more consumer brands and industry sectors, for use both inside and outside the home. The emergence of a 5G infrastructure will also increase the connectivity of these devices and the possible uses outside of the home.

Top example:

Kohler Verdera Voice Smart Mirror

Taking inspiration from Disney’s Snow White and The Seven Dwarves, a talking mirror is no longer the thing of fairy tales.

XR Innovation

XR Innovation is the new techy term for innovations that use a combination of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to bring virtual worlds to life. Fully immersive experiences are now being imagined and realised by many leading brands with the help of XR Innovation, .

CES:2020 featured lots of new VR hardware, AR advances and new case areas where this tech can be used, such as within the workplace, for training and education.

A particular area of focus for this theme is its application within the gaming industry, a market that consistently shows exponential growth and is believed will reach over $300 billion by 2025.

The emergence of e-sports (which are multiplayer videos games played competitively for spectators and can be highly lucrative for professional gamers), cloud-based gaming and the free-to-play model (e.g. Fortnite and Apex Legends) are boosting the popularity and profitability of the industry – all of which makes it a highly attractive market for XR Innovators.

Top example:

Nreal mixed reality glasses

Robots for Every Purpose

Far from fearing a robot takeover, consumers are now embracing an era where human and machine are working together in partnership.

This is happening across all manner of industries, from the self-service in supermarkets and fast-food restaurants, to robotic arms in manufacturing and healthcare.

There are now robots for nearly any task. Unsurprisingly, new and novel ways of using robots dominated the CES:2020 exhibition halls. This included the weird and the wacky, such as a feline robot waiter designed to deliver your purr-fect meal and a pizza-making robot that can make 300 pepperoni and cheese per hour.

It’s important to note that social robots seem to be finding their place in 2020 and are more likely to become commonplace electronics in our homes in the not so distant future. Advances in AI, ML, voice user interfaces and facial recognition are making them more interactive and in-tune with human social cues and emotions. These types of robots are proving to have many positive applications within the educational, health and social care sectors, for example to reduce loneliness and enable novel learning experiences.

Top Example:

There were too many cool robots to choose from, so here’s a cool montage for you to get a feel for the variety on offer.

Digital Health Lifestyle

Another theme that will endure and develop over the next decade is the digital health and lifestyle market. Digital health is becoming a lifestyle which incorporates an echo system of technologies for sleep, health and Wellness, fitness and babies. Once again, it’s one of the key sectors benefiting from the advances of ‘connected intelligence’.

The future of this market is moving towards touching all of us and is being further enabled by 5G, smart devices, facial recognition, AI, ML, AR and VR technology. Hospitals are expected to become like data centres in the future, which will also lead to vital innovation within encryption and security systems for the digital health-tech market.

Top Example:

Mateo – The Smart Bathroom Mat


Resilient/Sustainable Technology

The world is currently experiencing a number of global tech challenges. Climate change, being by far the largest and most far reaching, is driving innovation in renewable energy, carbon reduction, public alert systems, disaster recovery and public preparedness/awareness.

Additionally, plastic pollution reduction, the circular economy and protecting our planetary resources is another area where consumer electronics brands are looking to make changes that are more sustainable for the environment, as well as creating new space for start-up companies.

This resilient technology theme also includes cyber security, which will need to become more advanced due to the increasing way in which consumers rely on connected technologies and the types of data that powers the ‘intelligence of things’, particularly when smart devices are further embedded within our homes, digital health lifestyles and vehicles.

Top Example:


The Future of Transport

Urbanisation is resulting in the introduction of more transport options and driving innovation in shared and multi-modal transportation. Examples of this are the growing demand for the electrification of vehicles, as well as the adoption of electric bikes and electric scooters for shorter journeys.

Transport as a service is another growing area of innovation, with successful examples such as Uber taxis and Lyft (a lift-share app).

Autonomous vehicles have been whispered about for decades and although this concept hasn’t yet hit our highways, we do have brands within the motor industry producing self-parking cars and widely incorporating smart technology, such as voice activation, AI, ML and facial recognition, within vehicles.

The car industry is predicted to continue to move towards a ‘connected intelligence’ car concept, particularly within a Smart cities model. With C-V2X technology (cellular vehicle to everything tech) and 5G infrastructure, the vision for the future is self-driving vehicle fleets. Toyota even announced that they had decided to build their vision of the town of the future, called the “woven city”, a living prototype situated on a 175 acre site in Japan.

Looking not too far ahead into the future, CES:2020 even showcased vehicle concepts such as Electrical Vertical Take-off and landing (eVTOL), otherwise known as flying cars, such as the Uber Elevate Concept and Bell Nexus.

Top Example:

Uber Air

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