This week we’ve seen the start of CES a technology trade summit organised by the Consumer Technology Association. The annual show, which is held in Las Vegas, attracts innovators who are keen to show off their new products and consumer electronics.
It gives us a good indication of what we can expect to see either this year or in a couple of years to come.
Here we’ve cherry-picked a few of the tech innovations featured at CES along with some other trends we’ve identified that will have an impact and be important in the UK’s future, if not the world, this year and beyond:
- Foldable gadgets
Last year we saw the first foldable mobile phone in the form of the Royole’s FlexPai. It’s no surprise that for 2020 we’re seeing the introduction of foldable laptops.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 fold will be available in mid-2020 and full details for the device was unveiled at CES. Lenovo says it will be the first fully functional PC with a folding OLED display. It certainly appeals to people like me who hate lugging a laptop around.
- Tech that can clampdown on deepfake videos
We’ve all heard about fake news, but what about fake videos? Companies and politicians have long spread misinformation in the media and online to promote their own agendas. So, it’s no surprise that videos are now also being faked.
The problem is that some of these videos look so real that people will not be able to know whether it’s a fake.
This is what Facebook says it’s concerned about as millions of videos are shared on social media. In its blog, Facebook assured that videos edited for benign reasons, such as making the video ‘sharper or audio more clear’ would be allowed.
However, it pointed out that video can be manipulated through simple tech like Photoshop right through to sophisticated tools like artificial intelligence or “deep learning” techniques that distort reality – referred to as deepfakes.
- More electric vehicles being unveiled
We have to reduce our carbon footprint and one of the ways of doing this is to change our vehicles to electric ones. Expect to see electric vehicles launched in India, including from makers such as the Mahindra and Tata.
Others reportedly unveiling electric vehicles include Audi, Porshe and MG.
There could possibly even be an increase in electric car vehicle sales in the first quarter of this year as the UK Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG) expires in March this year. It’s unclear whether another one will be introduced to provide an incentive to switch to electric vehicles.
It also looks like the electric car market is set to get more competition from others that may not typically manufacture cars. It appears that Sony dipped a toe in the electric car market. In a surprise move, it unveiled its Vision S at the CES tech show.
Apparently, there are no immediate plans to sell the vehicle to the public. However, from this venture, we may expect that companies that don’t specialise in creating cars could enter into this market. Who knows, it may even expedite these types of cars into becoming more mainstream.
- Being able to take a good selfie will become more important
Don’t discontinue your consumer drone insurance product just yet. Selfies are a popular pastime but are set to become even more popular with the introduction of a drone at CES that takes selfies of you up in the air by a company called AirSelfie.
According to AirSelfie, we take about 100 million selfies a day, so it’s hardly surprising that we’re trying to find better ways in which to take them.
In the insurance industry, we’ve seen the use of selfies for identity verification. Just last year it was reported that Gen Re has launched a prototype of its ‘NOW’ app, which uses facial analytics tech on users’ selfies to provide insurance quotes.
- Tech to help you when you’re lost in translation
Google appears to have taken the lead in this with its ‘Translate’ product, which is aimed, so far, at businesses such as hotels and banks. It’s not the only company to try and get people to understand someone else’s ‘babble’. Pocketalk and Waverly Labs have also highlighted their translation tech at CES.
- Tech to help you get up to speed
Haven’t quite finished reading that brief for that 12 o’clock meeting at the office? Well, according to techcrunch.com, Google announced at CES that android devices will soon be able to read out articles to you. All you have to do is say: “Hey Google, read this page”.
- Robotics and AI will continue to advance
At CES robots with the ability to bring you toilet paper and making food were unveiled. Yes, that’s right! Samsung’s Bot chef can make you a salad – no need for Gordon Ramsey!
Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble’s toilet paper brand Charmin has introduced a two-wheeled robot at CES that can help you in your time of need on the loo. The ‘Rollbot’ can be told via an app to get you more loo paper. Life with bots is just set to get easier.
According to PwC, we’re already seeing alliances between leading incumbent financial services and tech companies using AI and robotics to address things like costs and risks. Think of the humble chatbot – they’re typically used to cut down costs that come with call centre staff and can also help the consumer day or night.
So, it’s only natural that we’ll see an more use of AI and robots, which will increasingly do a better job than the average human.
Sources: BBC, Facebook, What Car? Insurancebusinessmag.com, Techcrunch.com, The Telegraph