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The tech trends powering CES 2018

Team PolyrificJanuary 24, 20185 min read

CES 2018 -- Trends to Watch

The 2018 Consumer Electronic Show is now underway in Las Vegas, Nevada. Each year CES brings forth emerging technologies to the world stage that will soon power the way we live, work, and play. Here are the buzz-worthy technology trends at CES this year:

5G

Of notable buzz is the expansion of 5G New Radio (NR) cellular data transfer and millimeter wave technology. Five years ago, the upgrade to 4G felt like a big deal, but 5G is like nothing we have seen before. Whereas 4G can transfer data at 100 Mbps, by 2020 5G will transfer data at a searing 10 Gbps.  To put this into perspective, 10 Gbps data rates will allow you to download a two hour long high definition movie to your smart device in about three seconds

Such high data transfer rates should catch the US up to other areas of the world that have newer (and therefore faster) data infrastructure like South Korea, Japan, and Singapore. The importance of 5G speed isn't in the fact that we can download more media in less time--5G is important because of the industries it will enable such as streaming 8K video for digital medicine, data streaming for self-driving cars, mega-encryption for the Internet of Things, and so forth.

AI (again)

Be prepared to hear more about AI now and for the next several CES conferences. Specific intelligence, that is intelligence trained for a very specific purpose, is now a mature technology and one that you most likely already use on a daily basis. There is a heavy focus this year on the application of AI to building better and more conversational digital assistants like Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and "Hey Google" (seems Google dropped the additional syllable in "OK Google"). 

As AI goes from specific to general (a process that will take many more years), conversational interfaces become more, well, conversational. For example, instead of "Hey Google, find Italian restaurants", we would have, "Hey Google, I want to go out tonight. The weather is going to be bad so I don't want to travel far from home. Just go ahead and make a reservation somewhere close--you know I love Italian food but Mexican is fine as well".

Robotics

AI and Robotics are the peanut butter and jelly of the tech world. You can't have efficacious robots without strong AI. AI has come a long way in the last few years and this is giving rise to a whole new family of robotics here at CES this year.  There have already been unveiling events for several humanoid robots which, like there predecessors, have been clunky and prone to errors; however, the more purpose-built robots geared towards specific industrial or practical purposes are faring much better. Among such technologies are "smart baggage" and self-driving vehicles. Check back for more detailed articles on such robotics in the future.

Virtual & Augmented Reality

Virtual reality is still limping it's way to mass adoption with Sony announcing that just under 3 million Playstation VR units have been released as of the Holiday 2017 season. Many of the big names such as Oculus and HTC have announced lower-cost and self-contained VR units in a move to catch up with Sony who currently dominates the space. In our view, VR seems to still be a ways off in terms of mass commercial adoption; however, there are interesting applications such as therapy for post traumatic stress disorder that we believe will be useful in the near term. 

By contrast, augmented reality technology is just beginning to sprint towards mass commercial adoption. When you think of augmented reality, think about viewing the world through the window that is your smartphone rather than through special glasses (though both are happening). What we are seeing here at CES are several applications wherein ordinary smart phone owners can use the phone to overlay useful information onto the real world like where the nearest restroom is. We will be adding more articles about augmented reality in the coming weeks.

Digital Therapeutics

Digital therapy is another big topic at CES 2018. The term "digital therapeutics" encompasses all types of sensor-based diagnostics that enable virtual medicine. At Polyrific, we view emerging technologies in digital therapeutics and virtual medicine as essential for the well-being of US citizens in our changing healthcare landscape. We will be publishing articles on digital therapy in the future, but essentially this topic involves the gathering of personal health data from a variety of sensors in our smart devices and checking that information against oceans of data to indicate trends and even perhaps make a diagnosis. Additionally, with your permission digital therapy enables doctors from across the world to review your medical history and deliver a consultation which, depending on your healthcare situation, might be critical to your well being.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of things is nothing new to CES and is prevalent once again this year as it continues to expand and serve as the world's digital nervous system. Of particular focus this year are the IoT implementations that drive smart cities and energy conservation.

Various Improvements to Consumer Electronics

As you might imagine, there are many fun updates to consumer technology being announced at CES 2018. We won't go too deep into these areas but a few highlights include 8k video, thinner, lighter, and more powerful laptops, hand-held mini-camcorders with built-in stabilization gimbals, and new ways to enjoy sports in virtual reality.

So these are the primary trends driving CES 2018! Stay tuned throughout the week and follow @Polyrific on twitter for more CES coverage.

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