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Technology Trends: This Year’s CES Buzz
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Technology Trends: This Year’s CES Buzz - Executive Leadership Articles

Technology Trends: This Year’s CES Buzz

Executive Leadership Articles

Technology Trends: This Year’s CES Buzz

The annual CES (formerly the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas wrapped up recently, and people are still buzzing about some of the products on display. Here’s is a selection of interesting, groundbreaking, or bizarre product generating conversation.

In-car virtual assistants
Yes, these are voice-controlled assistants just like the ubiquitous home speakers, but they’re specifically designed for driving. Two major European manufacturers rolled out demos at CES, so drivers (if there are any in the near future) can ask their vehicles to check the oil level, adjust the air conditioner, or execute a set of operations in response to one voice command. These assistants will be included in some BMW and Mercedes models this year. Sadly, neither manufacturer named the assistant KITT.

Laundry folding machine
Looking like a cross between an inkjet printer and one of those toasters you see in diners where you feed slices of bread into the top and they come out the bottom warm and toasty, the laundry folder lets you feed an item of clothing onto a conveyor belt. It spits out a neat, uniformly folded pair of jeans or t-shirt like the most seasoned Gap employee. It’s not quite Roomba-level automation, since each article of clothing must be placed into the machine one at a time, but the energy it will save a family of six should justify its rather high price of nearly a thousand dollars.

Impossible Burger 2.0
Version 1 of the popular vegan, gluten-free burger that somehow tastes like meat is available now in your local high-end health-food stores. Version 2.0 has all the reviewers raving that if they didn’t know they weren’t eating beef, they would never guess. This new version will be sold in ground-beef formats as well, allowing home chefs to try vegan tacos or chili, too.

Foldable phone
One manufacturer introduced prototypes of its foldable smartphone last year, but this year a couple of others are scheduled to release theirs to the market as well. The displays aren’t the split-screen, hinged devices some of us used for texting in the early 2000s, but actual touch-sensitive displays like we’re used to using on our smartphones. They bend down the middle for compact carrying or alternate viewing, perhaps for those who like the larger screen of a small tablet but don’t want to give up their ability to carry a phone around in their back pocket. Is it a gimmick or a game-changer? We’ll find out this year!

Breadbot
The C used to stand for Consumer, but there are concept and ready-for-market products for service providers and retailers at CES as well. The Breadbot is a large vending machine which bakes its own bread -- up to ten loaves at a time, of several varieties. The machine does all the prepping: kneading, proofing, and baking. The idea is for supermarkets to offer very fresh-baked bread (the machines bake up to ten loaves at a time) for purchase by the consumer. Since a loaf of bread’s ingredients are very inexpensive, one would hope the loaves would be priced reasonably, making them a much better choice than same-day bread loves available at most supermarkets now.

Air Taxi
There were drones everywhere at CES this year, including new models for under the sea. There was also lots of talk about self-driving cars, but the Air Taxi combines the concepts. Self-piloted flying drones that carry passengers at speeds up to 150 miles per hour? Why not? Although this Jetsons-like technology is perhaps several years away from general use (estimates are for the mid 2020s, which aren’t as far away as you’re thinking), one wonders how disruptive it might someday be for the air travel industry.

Countertop dishwasher
You may want to re-designate the money you’ve decided to set aside for a laundry folder. The countertop dishwasher doesn’t even need a waterline connection. It sits on your counter (perhaps where your drying rack is now). You add detergent and water and the evening’s soiled dishes. The machine washes your dishes right on the counter top. For singles and childless couples who seldom have enough dishes for a regular dishwasher, this should be a godsend.

Sex gadget
Without getting into details (they’re easily found with a simple Google search), one sex technology firm was given an innovation award in the robotics and drone category last October in advance of the annual CES show. When the firm applied for exhibition space at CES, the organization running the show, the Consumer Technology Association, revoked the award and denied the company its exhibition space, citing its policy against what it considered “immoral, obscene, indecent, profane, or not keeping with CTA’s image.” Others (including the company in a compelling opinion piece in the Washington Post) pointed out that other sex technology companies have regularly exhibited at CES and received awards. There’s more to debate here than sexual themes: this slighted company’s engineers are mostly women and nonbinary, creating a product aimed not at men, as the other sex technology is. Without exhibition space or the chance to receive awards, companies such as this one might have more difficulty securing funding or finding their market. In this company’s case, the investors are still on board, but here is a conversation that should be had among those who showcase emerging technology. Is there a built-in bias against non-male and non-cisgender technology markets?

 

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Technology Trends: This Year’s CES Buzz - Executive Leadership Articles

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