Finding Balance in a Smart World

Another new year has begun, and another CES is gone. For RKS, CES is as much about scoping new technologies, products, and trends as it is about connecting with clients, partners, and colleagues within the industry. This year we saw the transportation industry continue to take more space on the showroom floor as they look to showcase their vision for the future and autonomous vehicles. 

In past years the show continued to get more packed with people as it reigns supreme as the largest conference in Vegas, however, this year the show seemed a little light in attendance. Yet the number of unknown brands in the main hall continues to grow.  Many were trying to monetize on the “Smart Home” category, either as courageous startups or fast followers to the main brands who are setting the pace for the future of consumer electronics. 

Bell helicopters had showcased an impressive full-scale Uber taxi with their Nexus concept. Although not functional it was quite remarkable.  Additionally, we saw John Deere showcase how autonomous vehicles will transform the farming industry. It might be a better category to launch self-driving cars given regular passenger vehicles face all kinds of infrastructure, human, and legislative challenges. Panasonic had a large exhibit where they were showcasing the battery technology by highlighting transportation offerings including the new Harley Davidson, mountain bikes, and cars. Their modular SPACe_C was an interesting take because this concept utilized a based drive train, wheels, and battery system that could allow for different cabins to be placed on top. This scenario is exciting because with one platform you can adapt the cabin to the different modes of life whether you are on vacation, driving to work, driving to a party, etc.

As we continue to identify ways to integrate technology into our lives, we need to take a step back and look at what is adding value and what is just a feature creep on our lives. An IoT connected dog with AI doesn’t really get us excited when I think about innovation and the future of consumer electronics. We prefer the warm furry friend over the plastic hard robot any day.  And while smart refrigerators and a connected home seems great and has the potential to bring value, but we need to figure out how to integrate the high-tech and low-tech solutions into our lives to deliver meaningful value.  We’re interested to see how the market adopts or rejects these new solutions and look forward to seeing how the IoT space matures as it moves out of its infancy.