There was a buzz in the air at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week. Both large companies and startups filled the convention centers to show off and demo their new products. After spending a few days walking among the endless booths and talking to some guests and exhibitors three key trends became clear.
1. Vehicles will become connected
This trend is best shown by Ford, who highlighted their transformation from being a car manufacturer to a software company developing a system to coordinate autonomous vehicles in city streets. During his keynote address, Ford CEO Jim Hackett announced the Ford Transportation Mobility Cloud. Through an investment in Silicon Valley startup Autonomic, Ford’s vision is to build and maintain a cloud system that would manage all the mobile transportation needs in cities. Ford has already partnered with food delivery service Postmates. And it is important to note that Uber is already using self driving cars to pick up passengers in Arizona. Perhaps Ford’s clouds will be the backend solution to all self-driving vehicles.
2. More real world shopping will happen in VR
Let’s face it. Driving to the mall, parking your car, and walking from store to store to try on clothes is much more time consuming than pulling out your phone or putting on your VR headset and trying out new clothes on your virtual avatar. Tech entrepreneurs feel this too. Several startups offered 3D scanning devices that will capture your dimensions and make a virtual model. Once this model is loaded inside an app you can try on different outfits or even “be yourself” in virtual reality or other mobile or desktop software environments. The reach of such possibility extends to shopping as well as video conferencing and beyond. The replication of yourself in virtual world takes you one step closer to singularity – a moment projected to be around 2050 where it will be difficult to differentiate the physical world from the virtual world.
3. Expect to see more drones everywhere
The drone pavilion at CES was massive. Underwater drones showcased by stunning mermaids. There were countless small drones that can be used for personal photography or gaming. However the most impressive drones were the big guys. Volocopter from Germany gave a demonstration of its ability to transport people like a flying taxi. A Russian company called SKYF presented a cargo drone that can carry 550 lbs and fly for 8 hours. Most interesting the FAA had a representation where they were happy to talk to drone makers and enthusiasts about the regulatory environment surrounding the use of large and small sized drones.