CES, the largest tech event of the year, is no stranger to the extremely cool, strange, repetitive or revolutionary when it comes to technology. Although the show boasts thousands of different types of technologies and products, certain themes and trends are pervasive throughout the week.
After putting in about 18.5 miles in less than 3 days, I reflected on the few days of sensory overload and everything I had experienced. Many of the conversations I had during the conference revolved around personalized health, connected vehicle ecosystems, smart cities and artificial intelligence (AI). While there were more than a few companies exhibiting at the show attempting to be the next Peloton or claiming their ear pods rival Apple’s Air Pods, I was grateful to not have to endure too many of those conversations.
Smart City Concepts
With 5G rolling out and the IoT industry maturing, smart cities are the inevitable next move to take advantage of all IoT has to offer. At CES, there was no shortage of smart city concepts to experience. From miniature models that included autonomous cars and helicopters to vehicles that deliver groceries, companies have invested a lot of time and money into building the next generation of automation for our every day lives. The one concept that CES really drove home was that the future of tech is all connected. Smart cities don’t exist without AI or without connected “things” and autonomous vehicles.
As our infrastructure ages, it becomes all too important for tech companies and their partners to understand how to build, secure and launch a connected future. Smart cities will rely on IoT sensors to understand water and energy consumption, traffic patterns and more. How we understand, control and initiate change based on the data collected in these smart cities will have a direct reflection on whether or not smart cities can be both a sustainable and practical way of life.
Toyota brought to life their proposed prototype “Woven City” at the conference this year. The concept Toyota used for their booth was inspiring. With a circular fabric set up to display live-action examples of how the city of the future will work, Toyota immersed visitors in their Woven City through sound, video and a 360-degree experience.
The city will be built as a fully connected ecosystem powered by hydrogen fuel cells at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan by 2021. This smart city is being hailed as a “living laboratory” where residents and researchers will utilize the from-scratch infrastructure to test and develop numerous technologies including robotics, smart homes and autonomy. Toyota is only one of several companies taking a techno-utopian approach to their plans for the city of the future.
According to the Danish architect behind the city, Bjarke Ingels, “…connected, autonomous, emission-free and shared mobility solutions are bound to unleash a world of opportunities for new forms of urban life. With the breadth of technologies and industries that we have been able to access and collaborate with from the Toyota ecosystem of companies, we believe we have a unique opportunity to explore new forms of urbanity with the Woven City that could pave new paths for other cities to explore.”
As Toyota takes a step into the future, so too do other tech companies. Sprint, for example, will be utilizing their True Mobile 5G and Curiosity™ IoT in areas across the United States, including Greeneville, SC and Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ.
The combination of Sprint Curiosity™ IoT with advanced network deployment has set the stage for building a truly smart city. Sprint and their partners are developing and deploying connected vehicles, autonomous services/machines and other smart technologies in conditions that reflect what future smart cities will look like. This allows researchers and developers to operate, navigate and react in real-time with real-world scenarios – preparing us for the city of the future.
The Next Step in Mobility and Autonomous Vehicles
One of, if not the biggest, draw of CES is the automotive section. Everything from flying taxis to augmented reality cars and the latest models are on display at the event. I had the great pleasure of speaking with several experts in the autonomous industry including Blackberry and RTI.
During CES, Blackberry announced two partnerships including the advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and an autonomous vehicle platform that will integrate BlackBerry QNX’s real-time operating system with Renovo’s intelligent automotive data platform. Renovo and QNX are jointly developing safety-critical data management tools for connected and autonomous vehicles with the plan to scale safety systems in new cars. Currently, Blackberry’s QNX is already in 150 million cars on the road today.
I spoke with Kaivan Karimi, Senior Vice President and Co-Head of BlackBerry Technology Solutions about the importance of native and secure technology and data collection in our connected and autonomous vehicles. With technology now embedded in cars before they hit the lots, Karimi expressed how vehicles are becoming a vital component of the infrastructure of smart cities.
As we put the groundwork in now for how cities will look in the future, he also noted the importance of building infrastructure based on the data that these vehicles are collecting from Renovo’s data management system and AI pipeline. Blackberry’s focus on safe and secure technology combined with Renovo’s data capabilities is only one example of how partnerships between private companies, the government, public entities and citizens of the world are necessary for being able to manage connected car data in a safe, secure and private way.
In addition to Blackberry, Real-Time Innovations (RTI), an IIoT connectivity company, is working on the future of autonomous driving.
Bob Leigh, Senior Market Development Director, Autonomous Systems at RTI shared with me that RTI believes “that the advancement of autonomous driving will be transformative to industry and society. Right now, automotive and tech companies are grappling with the complexity of the new technology, how to bring it to market, and what business models will ultimately be successful. At CES this year, we saw [that the industry] is much more specific in how they are tackling the challenge; differentiating their technology between advanced ADAS, Level 2+ and Level 4 Autonomy levels. We think this is a sign of the maturing market and the industry as a whole becoming more confident in how they will deliver their first commercial products. At CES 2020 it was clear the exact future of autonomous cars may still be unclear, but there was much more confidence in the path to making this technology real.”
Human behavior is a peculiar thing. Whether it’s a daily skincare routine, morning yoga or meditation, we are creatures of habit. Technology is advancing the way we personalize our health in those habits. Any marketer will tell you that human connection is the number one way to convince users to buy. If you can find a way to meet consumers where they are and solve their pain points, buyers will be more likely to choose your product. A company’s ethos as well as how it approaches customer satisfaction is of utmost importance as we saturate the market with new solutions, cool tech and products.
Neutrogena relaunched its NEUTROGENA Skin360™ app this year to democratize skin health information. I spoke with the team, including Global Communications Lead of Beauty and Baby at Johnson & Johnson, Michelle Dionne, who explained and walked me through the app. Skin360™ utilizes advanced skin imaging, behavior coaching and artificial intelligence to empower consumers with actionable, personalized steps to help achieve their skin health goals.
The original app that launched in 2018 required a skin scanning tool. So why did they relaunch in 2019? The team at Neutrogena put their customers first. They took into consideration valuable insight from consumers who sought personalized recommendations, science-backed information, expert opinions, skincare product tracking and how routine care affects our facial skin health over time.
The team also added the Neutrogena AI Assistant (NAIA). NAIA is a personal skincare coach that builds a relationship with each user through in-app and text messaging. NAIA uses AI and behavior change techniques to determine each individual’s skincare personality, what their current approach to care is and their current routine. Once you’ve added your information to the app and complete a 180-degree selfie analysis, the app will give you a score for wrinkles, fine lines, dark under-eye circles, dark spots and smoothness.
NAIA then helps users identify and build a personal 8-week skincare goal and routine based on the skin scores and a self-assessment of sleep, exercise, stress levels, external factors, etc. that is monitored and supported through coaching. This allows users to personalize their routine and place importance on various skin attributes such as moisture and tone.
In addition to continuing to accept user feedback and iterate on their app and AI technology, Neutrogena is combining their 360 app with MaskiD, a micro 3D printed facemask that is custom to face shape and structure, formulated with concern-specific ingredients on different areas of your face. Although they won’t be available until later this year, be on the lookout for these masks as they will be both personalized and affordable. Side note: I’ve used the app several times already since being introduced to it last week.
This year at CES, Panasonic also took into consideration how consumers are placing increased attention on their physical and mental health states with the launch of their ‘Human Insight Technology’.
With Panasonic’s human insight technology, users are provided with data to make recommendations to improve an individual’s experience in the home.
Human insight technology uses non-invasive sensors and imaging to capture and interpret data based on human habits and behaviors. Panasonic demonstrated this technology through an interactive yoga studio. Through analysis of physical stress data, Pansonic was able to design products and environments optimized for typical human movements and physiology. At CES, participants can see human insight technology in action through an interactive yoga studio using the Yoga Synchro Visualizer.
Your face and body are scanned, and the technology prompts you to follow commands. The cameras and sensors recognize human motion and provide users with multiple scores including a pose, fatigue, stability, flow and stress. The best part? You’re able to see the physical representation of the changes taking place in your body while performing your yoga routine.
AI Home Ecosystems
Among the flooded convention center floors and wave of beautiful displays, you’re more likely than not to have run into companies that are incorporating AI assistants and technology into their products in some way. The smart home industry, in particular, is embedding AI into their ecosystems.
For example, Sharp has a vision of People-Oriented IoT according to Executive Vice President and Head of AIoT Business Strategy Office, Bob Ishida. With over 150 products in 10 categories, Sharp is rolling out products that meet lifestyle and culture needs. Sharp is only one of many companies that showcased AIoT and 8K solutions that “will explore new possibilities for computers to offer innovative experiences to both business users and individual consumers around the world.”
LG is another example of a company using AI to improve the home ecosystem. Revealed in 2019, LGThinQ artificial intelligence was on full display. LG’s slogan for AI: “anywhere is home”. From kitchen appliances to washing machines and personal wardrobes, all of LG’s appliances are using AI as a consumer experience. Washers are learning how users like certain types of clothing washed and air conditioners are adjusting automatically to your comfortability settings.
As I walked the convention floor with little spare time, I was curious about the prevalence of IoT at CES. Although I had to explain more than a handful of times what IoT is and how it works (simple explanation of IoT), even those that didn’t know it by name were utilizing some element or elements tied deeply to the IoT industry.
From sensors to AI, 5G and the future of mobility, CES 2020 made a few things clear: partnerships are necessary for how we will build a connected future; personalized wellness is becoming a need to have instead of a nice to have and AI is becoming less of a buzzword and more of an actuality.