CES logo with las vegas in background

CES 2018: Going Beyond Gadgets

1/16/2018
— Chris Donohue, WE 

As thousands of people descended on the Strip and news big and small went live earlier this week, the WE team on the ground was listening, walking, talking and reading to identify the trends that will shape the tech landscape in 2018 and the years ahead.

Over the past few years, CES has changed a bit. Yes, the big players are still here and making splashes in the TV space, but for a show once dominated by tablets and smartphones, it’s now all about AI, connectivity and smart-everything. Above all else, this stands out the most: AI is everywhere. The Independent’s headline says it all: The world's biggest gadget show gives up on gadgets.

As communicators, keeping our fingers on the pulse of industry is key. Below you’ll find a snapshot of the tech that had people talking and the trends may shape narratives in the months to come.

 

AI gets ubiquitous, and the home gets smarter

Amazon and Alexa showed up in a big way at last year’s CES, and everyone took notice. In 2018, they’ve doubled down. Jeremy Kaplan, editor in chief of Digital Trends, told WE: “This year, assistants — and more broadly, AI — is everywhere.” We saw this in everything from Google’s enormous brand presence to Samsung and LG’s shift from big device announcements to a focus on AI and how it will tie together all their products. The smart home is here, and smart appliances like ovens, fridges, and washers and dryers from LG, Samsung and GE are not only connected to the internet but are controlled with voice — a feature that has taken over the AI space. Oh, and Google and its partners announced 15 new products aimed directly at making your home smarter. Expect a lot more in the smart home realm from Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple and Samsung in the years to come.

 Bright blue wall with Bixby good morning

 

Automotive tech is hot

Tech and transportation are coming together. Kaplan calls what’s happening with the auto industry at CES “explosive growth,” as manufacturers are taking up more space at CES each year. They’re showing off the latest tech in their cars, aimed at courting the generations that grew up with GPS, Bluetooth, satellite radio and more. Similarly, tech companies like Panasonic are showing off concepts of luxury entertainment centers disguised as self-driving cars, and Samsung continues to push multiple industries forward with its Digital Cockpit for connected cars.

People crowd around car at CES

 

Connectivity and IoT show up big

Big trends taking shape at CES 2018 include huge investments from Samsung, Intel and Qualcomm in 5G and IoT. Samsung made a bold promise to make ALL its products IoT-ready by 2020 (that includes toilets in South Korea), and Intel and Qualcomm doubled-down on the potential of 5G to not only improve speeds for consumers but change how cities move into the future and get smarter. These connected experiences will change our interactions everywhere from sports stadiums to music to entertainment to doctor visits and health monitoring.

Connectivity CES

With CES closing up shop for the year and hundreds of thousands of attendees headed home, that’s a wrap from the Strip. CES has always been about promises. It will be interesting to see which trends from this year fulfill their promises and stick around — and which will become the forgotten mega-sized iPod docks of the future.