Last week team Unruly descended on Las Vegas, along with some of the biggest tech companies and enthusiasts across the world for CES 2019.
To save you from trawling through thousands of tweets, company announcements and press releases, we've summed things up. Here are five key trends that we think will shape our industry.
1) Keep your eyes off the road
The plethora of car-related tech announced this year means driving will never be the same again.
Kia announced it’s using bio-signal recognition technology and AI to read drivers’ moods. As well as the potential safety improvements this represents, it could be an opportunity for brands—the same cameras that detect if someone is tired could also track real-time emotions to detect if someone is happy/sad.
And with Disney and Audi announcing a new partnership to keep kids entertained with VR on long trips, could the car finally be the environment that brings VR to the masses?
Where drivers once needed to dedicate attention to the road they will soon be able to work, rest, or consume news and entertainment instead. Media organizations will need to consider how to have relevant content at passengers’ fingertips.
As a side note, flying cars are also on the way (Back to the Future was only four years late!)
2) Personalisation and the quantified self
For bespoke health and beauty tech, anything goes! From printing your own nail art to getting personalised health and beauty advice from AI. Brands like P&G launched a whole suite of new connected beauty and healthcare products to make consumer’s lives easier.
The Opté Precision Skincare System combines camera optics, proprietary algorithms, printing technology and skincare in one device that scans the skin, detects hyperpigmentation and precisely applies corrective serum. Wow.
Technology for our health and quantified self are growing in new directions that go well beyond current wearables and biometrics—with connected home blood and urine testing kits and connected toothbrushes that analyse your saliva already in production. Consumers will soon be self-testing at home, generating extremely personal and valuable data sets.
We’ll even be uploading data while we sleep. One of the fastest growing areas of health tech is sleep monitoring, including brain patterns monitoring from companies like Dreem and Urgonight.
This represents a huge opportunity for media organisations to assist consumers in a more personalised way. In the health space, if consumers are willing to share health information, they could be served with relevant editorial content. If a blood test shows someone has diabetes they could receive content on managing sugar intake or healthy eating. In turn, this could change customer perceptions of the line between amazingly relevant, personalised ads and plain creepy.
3) You’re talking my language
In an age of digital nomads, language will no longer be a barrier. Google Assistant’s interpreter mode lets two people who speak different languages use AI powered technology to have a seamless conversation.
Whilst the number of smart speakers in households continues to grow (78% in a year), 2019 may be the year smart speakers start to decline, as assistants are being integrated into everything from pet feeders to toilets.
Despite voice becoming ubiquitous, it’s also worth mentioning that there is a sense of déjà vu with voice applications. Parallels are being drawn with the rush to create mobile phone applications that never got traction (on average we have 48 apps and use eight on a daily basis). A degree of healthy cynicism should be applied when thinking how to best approach this opportunity.
4) Screens and surfaces
At first sight Mui appears to be a standard piece of wood, but when touched it lights up and activates Google Assistant. This is just the start of smart building materials to control our appliances.
Despite the growth of voice, instant access to visual notifications and entertainment were more omnipresent and immersive than ever. CES 2019 proved that any surface can be used as a canvas. From Modular TV panels that can be configured by the user, to flexible screens like LG’s ‘curve of nature’ TV that can be rolled up like a yoga mat!
Screens will be ubiquitous. We need to consider what opportunities this could provide brands with to connect with people, and what sort of formats will be regarded as polite. Smart brands will be conscious of the impact of their content, and will work hard to make emotionally relevant content, served based on the mood of the viewer and their emotional profile. Facial recognition, now an integral part of any decent smart mirror, will help with this greater personalisation.
It’s worth noting that all this new screen technology will require a big upgrade in content and distribution capabilities. Luckily 5G is here to help.
5) G whizz
2019 marks the dawn of 5G, which will significantly reduce download times and allow instant synchronisation of actions across devices, sensors and robotics. This year many of the conversations were focussed around how 5G will impact machine-to-machine technologies and the Internet of Things.
With huge improvements in connectivity changing consumer behaviour, we really need to think about two questions; what new content and services will 5G enable? And what will improved upload speeds mean for both media organisations and UGC?
Elena Corchero is futurist at Unruly.