- by Claudio M. Camacho
As usual, this year’s CES was overflowing with gadgets from weird to wonderful. From my perspective, the most prominent trends were: cars, augmented and virtual reality, and robots. And, unlike previous years, smart TVs and drones were much less dominant at the event.
You’ve probably seen many of the best CES wrap-ups from the tech and media outlets (and in case you haven’t, I’ve listed my roundup of favorites at the end). Instead, I thought I’d focus my wrap-up on something a bit different. I’m not only a gadget geek, but I go to CES with the perspective of a storage and networking software company. With that in mind, read on for a slightly different take on the event than what you’ve already seen.
Cloud connectivity is no longer optional – it’s the norm
This CES made it loud and clear that cloud connectivity is no longer hype or just a growing trend. It’s reached fact-of-life status. With that comes an inevitable decrease in demand for multitudes of local storage capacity. But despite cloud connectivity, every device still needs local storage to support their core functionality, which usually has high quality requirements.
A bonus related observation: over-the-air (OTA) software updates are no longer just for phones and laptops. Because everything is now connected to cloud, OTA updates are also becoming a norm in every device market – even in cars.
Cars have vast potential for new and better software
During CES, I participated in a panel devoted to automotive user experience at the TU-Automotive Consumer Telematics Show. In this panel, we explored why people aren’t willing to pay for in-car connectivity – at least not now. One big issue is that the user experience of automotive systems just isn’t quite there yet. The interfaces and systems people interact with in cars are still quite dense. Creating a beautiful, simple, and streamlined user experience will play a strong role in fueling the desire for more in-vehicle connected services. But above all, ensuring automotive software provides services people can’t live without will be key.
— Claudio M. Camacho (@claudiomkd) January 5, 2017
Outside of this panel, I also met with Tier-1 automotive hardware and software suppliers to get their collective thoughts on the market. Firstly, there are many billions of dollars being poured into the automotive industry. The financial prospects are only getting better. Governments across the world have a strong influence on making cars safer, so solutions like ADAS and event recorders, plus aftermarket-solutions related to safety have a lot of potential.
Coupled with this, cars are quickly becoming powerhouse producers of big data. The premium cars in production today have seven or more Linux-based boxes, including ADAS, vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications, telematics, event recorder, and more. Each box creates data of its own. Based on our tests and discussions with automotive suppliers, we estimate that an average car (with two cameras and multiple sensors) generates over 500 GB of data every day! And at each stage of the data’s life – from collection, to storage, to processing, analyzing, and turning that data into valuable information – high-quality, reliable software is needed.
VR and AR have rapidly gone from wow to tangible products
In the space of a year from CES 2016, these technologies have jumped hyperspeed from cool concepts into reality. Both are being used massively. While VR draws a lot of attraction in the consumer realm for its entertainment value and shared experiences, AR is being applied in ways to help make tasks or entire jobs easier. At CES, AR proved it has real worth in industrial applications, such as assembly lines, construction, maintenance, and much more.
Bonus: robots are really cool, but do we need them?
A lot of companies have robots to make tasks easier around the home. Some companies focus on creating entertaining companions. While robots do bring a sci-fi-turned-reality feel to the consumer electronics scene, it’s hard to see their widespread adoption in the near future. At the moment, they seem useful, but just not useful enough for most people. Like cars, when robots bring functionality that people just can’t live without, we might be more willing to bring them into our homes.