PARIS — Ask any market researcher or industry analyst about what to watch for at the Consumer Electronics Show next month in Las Vegas and the “A” list you’ll almost certainly hear are Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality and Automotive.
Currently off the hot list are IoT, wearables and Ultra High Definition TV.
The pervasiveness of AI and AR/VR at the show will surely elevate them to the peak of the hype cycle. Despite the hype, however, don’t be surprised if 2017 is also the year when apps developers, systems designers and enlightened consumers start raising hard questions about the transparency, safety and accuracy of AI algorithms.
It’s just such market scrutiny that has cooled enthusiasm for IoT, wearables and UHD TV, whose problems, now exposed, require either fundamental solutions or a major marketing pivot.
For IoT, the sharpest focus is on “Insecurity of Things,” noted John Curran, a global managing director with Accenture’s Communications, Media and Technology Group. “There is no way the IoT market will reach its great potential until these security challenges are overcome.”
Curran quoted a new U.S. Department of Homeland Security report titled, Strategic Principles for Security the Internet of Things, which says:
The time to address IoT security is now. Many of the vulnerabilities in IoT could be mitigated through recognized security practices, but too many products today do not incorporate even basic security measures. There is a lack of incentives for developers to adequately secure products, since they do not necessarily bear the costs of failing to do so. While the benefits of IoT are undeniable, the reality is that security is not keeping up with innovation.
Myra Moore, President of Digital Tech Consulting, Inc. (DTC), also cited “privacy — the ownership of personal data,” as a growing issue. She noted, “Don’t assume that the [privacy] ship sailed long ago with Big Data Inc. — Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc. — securely at the helm.” She believes the quest for better encryption technology is on, with focus on its abilities for security and rights-permission.
What about wearables? Undoubtedly, a new wave of wearable devices will flood the show floor this year. But what’s getting hotter is “hearables.”
As Mike Feibus, principal analyst at FeibusTech, observed recently in USA Today, “Wearables suppliers are looking beyond the wrist, training their eyes on your ears,” which they see as the next big growth area in this $10 billion market.
UHDTV is still high on the watch list for DTC’s Moore. But her interest is driven by the quest for “variations or upgrades to current high-end display technology” — more efficient and less expensive than today’s OLEDs. Disagreement among set manufacturers on a single standard for UHD, she noted, presents a potential roadblock for UHDTV proliferation.
AI is on everyone’s hot list.
“Artificial Intelligence could very well be ‘the story of the show’” in Las Vegas, Accenture’s Curran told us.
Although AI is “not necessarily visible to the consumer,” he believes the race has already begun among CE companies, as they vie to weave AI into their system designs, applications and services.
The goal is to “leverage software algorithms and programs to make computers think, predict, learn, and solve problems more like humans, or possibly better than humans, to create more efficiencies and other benefits in peoples’ lives,” explained Curran.
However, today’s AI is certainly not there, or even close. But the promise of AI is driving everyone to try and embrace “machine learning, natural language processing, and analytics” enabled by AI.
Asked what makes Accenture bullish, Curran said that as AI permeates technology, it’s becoming “a core part of the CE market infrastructure.”
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