CES 2019: Trends to Watch

Before CES 2019 opens its doors, let's have a look at the next big things and disruptive innovations that will redefine the consumer electronics industry in 2019.
Susan Fourtané
CES 2019, Las Vegas

New technologies will occupy the consumer landscape while we approach the Data Age in 2020. 

Before the Consumer Electronics Show 2019 (CES) officially opens its doors to over 182,000 global attendees, Interesting Engineering got warmed up with a magnificent summary of the impactful trends, next big things, and disruptive innovations that are going to shape and redefine the consumer electronics industry in 2019. 

Held each year in Las Vegas, CES is owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

It is the annual gathering for those in the business of consumer technologies, and the place where next-generation innovations are introduced and showcased to the marketplace. 


Steve Koenig, Vice President of the CTA, started off the CES 2019 Trends to Watch session by talking about the industry trends that are going to have the highest impact on consumers throughout 2019.

As we enter the Data Age, Koenig began with what makes everything else possible: 5G technologies. "5G really begins here at CES in Las Vegas," he said. Technologies such as self-driving cars, smart home technology, and Virtual Reality rely on wireless connectivity.

5G technologies come strong to flourish in 2020 supporting the increasing number of mobile Internet users and connecting the smart devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) world. 

The New IoT and a shift in consumer behavior 

"The new Internet of Things is the Intelligence of Things."

Steve Koenig spoke about the Intelligence of Things, or the new IoT. "The new Internet of Things is the Intelligence of Things," he said. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is going to be everywhere connecting everything from processors and chips to embedded AI in robots and vehicles to Machine Learning to digital home assistants. Artificial Intelligence is going to have a tremendous global impact in the user experience. 

"We can expect to see more human-machine interactions and partnerships, " said Koenig. "We are beginning to understand the limits of automations. There are limits to automation and we still need the human element." 

Because of the embedded chips, Machine Learning in all its forms it's going to evolve into a lot of business-to-business (B2B) applications. 

Digital assistants such as Amazon's Alexa has nearly 60,000 skills and it's compatible with over 20,000 devices. "Even the Church of England has a Google Assistant!," said Steve Koenig. We are going to experience a major shift in consumer behaviour, Koenig anticipates. Voice, as a way of taking to technology, is going to be visible everywhere. 

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Here is where AI is coming for perfecting the process. "We can expect to see more human-machine interactions and partnerships," said Koenig, as "we are beginning to understand the limits of automation." 

Some people are afraid of these technologies thinking they are coming to steal their jobs. However, Steve Koenig said that "there are limits to automation and we still need the human element." 

CES 2019: Trends to Watch
CTA's Steve Koenig talks about Samsung QLED 8K at a pre-CES 2019 session in Las Vegas.

"It wouldn't be CES without displaying innovation," said Koenig, before starting to talk about the new Samsung QLED 8K and its $15,000 price tag. He said we can expect to see an average of 50 inches in the new TV screens at the show. 8K TV is the new upgrade path. 

"Consumers want the biggest screen possible." 

According to Koenig, the forecast for the U.S. alone estimates 200 8K TV shipments for 2019, 1,500 units for 2022, and increasing from there. "Never underestimate the psychology of the consumer." Consumers want bigger screens and electronics manufacturers are listening. 

Moving on to the Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) world, they are going to take different market journeys: From B2C to B2B and from B2B to B2C. In terms of AR hardware developments Koenig told attendees to have a look at the Lenovo Mirage AR headset, the Vuzix AR Glasses, the AR Smart Mirrors, and the ThirdEye X2 Smart Glasses

In AR application deployments, Zara is going to make advances in adoption in the retail sector and we are going to see AR and VR in sports as well as deployments in historical sites and museums. In education AR and VR are going to be used to amplify experiences. CES Innovation Awards 2019 Honoree in VR Astro Reality is using the technology to teach kids about the Solar System. 

Steve Koenig anticipated the emergence of audio AR. "What are the use cases? I don't know," he said, "but we're going to find out." 

"Life in the Data Age is going to be augmented in some way." 

The next stop was the so much anticipated mention of Steven Spielberg's 2018 movie Ready Player One. "Are we anywhere close to a Ready Player One world?," asked Koenig. Not so yet but quite on the way toward it as Koenig goes through acknowledging that CES Innovation Awards 2019 Honoree in VR Teslasuit is a "Ready Player One type of kit, and this is 2019 not 2050," he said. Or what about Japan's VR theme parks? Come in and plug in?

Koenig anticipates more experimentation in the next few years and more use cases for VR in sectors such as brand marketing. 

In the road to self-driving vehicles space, we are going to see more sensor fusion and co-pilot features as we see more Level 3 automation, also called Conditional Automation in self-driving vehicles in 2019. 

As we enter the robotaxi reality, "we're going to see more fleets of self-driving vehicles in the streets as deployments, not just testing," said Koenig, The future of urban mobility includes Mobility as as Service (MaaS), V2X communications, and more electric vehicles. 

In the digital health space at CES, this year manufacturers are releasing new products with comprehensive digital health in mind aiming at promoting more physical activity, encouraging behavioral change, but measuring more than just that. Digital health device incorporate capabilities such a heart rate monitoring and fall detection.  

The CTA forecasts that all wearables will see a 9 percent sales increase. Smartwatches in particular will show a 26 percent growth in sales since 2017. 

With 4.4K exhibiting companies displaying innovation at CES this year and one thousand speakers, let's say that we have a week ahead that promises excitement as well as a good dose of surprises and announcements from the leading consumer electronics leaders. 

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