The Most Non-Obvious, yet Groundbreaking Themes From CES 2017

Okay–So that was a bit of clickbait, but we did want to share some of our biggest takeaways from CES 2017. This year, VSAers Tobi DeVito and Ara Berberian attended the 50th anniversary of the conference, alongside over 170,000 other tech revelers. Here are their biggest learnings from this year’s event:

1. Alexa, Alexa, Alexa. Did we mention Alexa?

AI in the form of personal digital assistants was the most overt story at CES 2017, with Amazon Echo and Alexa-enabled products nabbing most of the attention. Implications include the reality that the most logical interface of IoT is through voice, and products will soon include Alexa or Alexa-like services in everything from automobiles to refrigerators to enhance experiences and boost utility. It’s also clear that brands are facing the growing challenge to own the end-to-end customer experience as personal digital experiences offered by third parties grow in popularity.

“Alexa, order a large pepperoni and pineapple pizza from Dominos now. Wait I can’t Alexa? Are you saying that my Fitbit shows I’ve exhausted all of my target calories for the day?!”

2. We’ll all soon be kicking back, watching the Game of Thrones while our cars shuttle us down the highway

The automotive and transportation sector was ready-to-rock at this year’s CES. Old-school Popular Mechanics issues from the 50s featuring cars that look more like living rooms on wheels are actually happening sooner than anyone imagined (except for the geeks in the 50s who assumed all this would happen by 1988). Use-cases like your car (or a car) picking you up and then going away to park itself after dropping you off at work seems like a genuine pain-point that’s been solved, and the technology to do it is essentially here now. Even a motorcycle debuted by Honda showed it can ride away all by itself.

3. VR and drones are, frankly, starting to smell…

… Except for in gaming and long-tail use-cases such as repairing a nuclear facility on meltdown. Check out this little video if you don’t believe us. Be that as it may, augmented reality is feeling very real, and will likely provide a true lift by the entities and brands that develop creative ways to use it, such as Bosch for training mechanics and–most notably as of late–Nintendo through Pokemon Go. And although Mercedes-Benz debuted an incredibly impressive and thought-provoking concept delivery van that utilizes drones, we still think boys around the world ages 8-13 will take out drones in droves with their slingshots and bb guns.

4. Rock-a-bye baby in the connected crib that automatically adjusts based on baby’s activity and sleep patterns…

The trend to leverage technology to make our everyday lives “better” was ever-present at the show. Wearable parenting tracking devices, responsive pet feeders, automatic laundry folders, even toys that stand in as a playmate for a child were all on display, showcasing the many ways to remove the person from all of life’s personal moments. While the intention of improving and simplifying lives was clear, the execution feels more like an outsourcing of parenting, caregiving, and creativity to the bots.