January 17, 2020

At this year’s CES, an iteration of the world’s largest gathering of innovators, technologists and consumers, there was the usual on display – thousands of new zany products ranging from robotic companions to LED backpacks that display images and animations to automated trash cans, courtesy of over 4,000 exhibitors all vying for attendees’ attention.

But what really fascinated us this year were the overarching trends that seem poised to define the technological landscape for years to come.

Below are the top-3 technological trends that were on display throughout CES 2020.

Privacy and Security Remain a Priority

“Hey Google – are you saving my audio data?”

Following years of mounting scrutiny from regulators and criticism from consumers over technology companies’ handling of personal data, it wasn’t a surprise that several of the largest enterprises in the industry placed a special emphasis on user privacy this year.

Google announced at the show that their personal assistant now has two new voice commands to empower consumers to better control their privacy. Consumers are now able to command Google Assistant to forget what it may have heard when activated accidentally, and to provide information regarding available privacy options upon request.

Facebook, one of the technology companies most heavily involved in privacy-focused discussions over the past several years, announced a new version of its “Privacy Checkup” tool at the show. The tool, which was developed to help walk users through their key privacy settings, will empower users to control who can see what they share, how their information is utilized and best practices regarding their account security, according to the company.

Ring, the Amazon-owned video doorbell company that struggled with bad actors’ exploits throughout 2019, announced an update to its mobile app to include a new section called “Control Center.” This new feature enables users to easily manage their connected devices, third-party service connections and more. This is a major step towards improving consumers’ user privacy.

“Today data is a core component of every technology,” says Stephen Welby, Executive Director and COO of IEEE. “This naturally gives rise to questions pertaining to the ways that consumers can entrust large organizations to handle their data ethically and responsibly.”

Size Matters When It Comes to Sensors

“Sensors are an integral part of what it takes to make modern consumer electronics,” said IEEE Fellow Tom Coughlin.

“While sensors are huge in terms of their importance, it’s encouraging to see them grow increasingly smaller,” Coughlin continued. “As sensors are made to be ever-smaller without sacrificing efficiencies, they can be applied to more and more consumer electronics, opening up new possibilities for connected devices, real-time monitoring and more.”

From watches to cars, small and more efficient sensors was a common trend at CES 2020.

Withings, a French consumer electronics company, highlighted its newest smart watch, the ScanWatch, at the show. The smart watch pieces together two health monitoring technologies:

  • a sensor to help detect atrial fibrillation, a heart condition that can lead to blood clots, stroke and heart failure and other heart-related complications
  • a monitor that measures blood oxygen levels during sleep

Plus, the ScanWatch utilizes sensors that are small enough to avoid impacting the watch’s aesthetic. By remaining stylish, there is an increased potential for consumer adoption in the years ahead.

Sony, not traditionally known for its work in the automobile space, unveiled the Sony Vision-S, an electric-concept car focused on “safety, entertainment and adaptability.”

The Sony Vision-S leverages the company’s automotive-focused imaging technology and is surrounded by a network of sensors that the company is calling the “Safety Cocoon.” Comprised of 33 sensors inside and outside the car, the “Safety Cocoon” provides the Vision-S with a 360-degree view of its environments and potential hazards.

The small sensors are strategically built into the vehicle in such a way that doesn’t draw any attention to the inner workings, or beauty, of the digital technologies powering the car.

Autonomous Vehicles? More like Autonomous Everything

While driverless cars might have been the darlings of CES in the past, CES 2020 brought other autonomous transportation-focused technologies to the forefront.

With nearly 70 percent of the world’s population projected to live in urban areas by 2020, according to the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs, it’s no surprise that experts at CES 2020 touted autonomous public transportation as a potential solution to the mass transit-related issues stemming from overurbanization.

On a panel led by Axios’ Transportation Correspondent, JoAnn Muller, topics discussed included autonomous shuttles and self-flying taxis as panelists shared their visions for the future of mobility. Autonomous public transportation solutions, according to various experts, could provide for cost-efficient, accessible transportation as consumers increasingly turn to ride-sharing and last-mile options.

On the security front, Sunflower Labs unveiled their Sunflower Home Awareness System, which consists of:

  • Motion and vibration sensors that effectively populate a corresponding digital map in real-time
  • The Bee – a fully autonomous drone that deploys and flies on its own, and contains cameras to live-stream video
  • The Hive – The Bees’ charging station, which also serves as a data hub responsible for processing all of the information gathered by the aforementioned parts.

The awareness system is designed to supplement a more traditional home monitoring apparatus with one that provides a much more detailed overview of a home.

It isn’t difficult to dream up other applications for the system, which points to a future where drones leverage AI in conjunction with data pulled from various sensors to effectively roam our skies to augment our day-to-day activities.

Moving forward, we’re excited to see how the aforementioned trends continue to develop – we anticipate that they’ll continue to heavily influence technological design and strategic applications in business, consumer products and society throughout 2020 and beyond.


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