CES 2019 – Our retrospective
Just after the new year started, I got the great opportunity to attend this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas together with my colleague Klemen Koželj.
Since we are both members of Comtrade’s Innovation Lab, we were particularly excited to have a chance to get first-hand experience and insight into the latest and greatest tech trends while finding some inspiration for the coming year. This means that we went into the conference with high expectations and were waiting for our minds to be blown. CES couldn’t call itself the Global Stage for Innovation if it failed to live up to these expectations. So, of course, it didn’t take us long to encounter the first interesting projects and crazy ideas.
As they first set off across the conference floor, everyone will cross paths with multiple autonomous delivery pods, supermarkets on wheels, table tennis playing robots or helpful concierge robots. This already gives the first of on the important role which IoT, connectivity, HMI and how new business models and living concepts will be playing out. As I looked around at CES and observed the showcased mobility solutions, concept cars, and new transport options, it became clear that we will soon be consuming mobility in a completely different way than we are used to these days. Despite seeing numerous concept cars from established carmakers which would indicate regular car ownership as we know it now, I do believe that the transportation in urban areas will be heavily reshaped by autonomous shuttles and pods designed to fit different purposes of transporting humans and freight seamlessly through cities. But CES doesn’t only offer insights into new mobility on the ground, but also up in the air above cities, we will be seeing passenger drones, autonomous shuttle taxis and delivery drones to make our lives more convenient and provide a couple of new options to move us from A to B.
Not only will there be a more diverse offering of transportation modes for people to move around, the way we consume mobility will also be different. Already today, it is easy to call an Uber wherever you are to bring you to your destination with Uber X, Pool or Black depending on your needs. However, we haven’t hit the maximum of available options yet. We will be seeing many mobility aggregators evolving, offering every passenger a variety of mobility options and covering multiple operators and mobility concepts. In that way, one could choose between ride-hailing, car rental, a shuttle bus, renting a motorbike and countless other options.
One example of such aggregation platforms was launched at CES by HERE Mobility when they launched their SoMo App. Essentially, SoMo is a mobility marketplace allowing travelers to get the broadest variety of options for getting from A to B targeted to their needs at the moment. They also provide transport providers and smart cities with insights about the transport patterns in cities, so fleets and routes can be optimized and city officials can take the correct measures to improve infrastructure and traffic regulations in their region.
A lot of the approaches, products, and innovations I saw on CES were related to sustainability and clean water in particular. This has really made me think, because Slovenia, my home of choice since a couple of years ago, has recently become the first country in Europe to declare access to drinking water a basic human right in its constitution. So, living here nobody has to worry much about access to water and sources of drinkable tap water are basically everywhere. So, the realization that the reality for most people looks way different from the situation in Slovenia was really eye-opening for me and I am delighted to see that a lot of the innovation power of startups worldwide is focused on ensuring sustainable and clean water supply for everybody worldwide. I met more than six startups at CES who are dedicated to finding new ways to source water and I was very impressed by their ideas and motivation.
However, water is not the only aspect of sustainable living, which was on display at CES. There were various ideas contributing to a sustainable, qualitative and enjoyable life in future smart cities, covering topics like the inclusion of the elderly and physically impaired citizens with the help of technology, smart housing, resourceful smart cooking or gadgets facilitating intercultural communication with seamless in-ear translations. This provides a very positive outlook on life, mobility and leisure in the smart cities of the future and makes me personally excited to keep contributing to the innovations, which will make everybody’s lives more enjoyable, seamless and fun now and in the future.
Oh, and of course Google took us beyond our wildest dreams with their Google Assistant ride, which took us into the world of Google and beyond. But who other than Google would bring a fun ride to a conference booth and drive you into their living room?
Thank you CES! We had a blast!