CES has always been the show highlighting the best software, hardware, and connectivity. The global gadget gathering of the beloved geeks is famous for solving problems we didn’t even know we had.
Anyone down for an AI snowblower? An AI-powered anti-snore pillow? Or how about a wireless remote for your toilet? (Honestly, are you not on your phone anyway?) Bidet marketers naturally capitalized on the sacred bathroom experience for the show.
Potty talk aside, the innovations were the best I’ve experienced in about a decade. Major shifts were also happening in and around 2013 —case in point: voice assistants.
Amazon’s Alexa (launched 2014), Apple’s Siri (launched 2012), and Google Assistant (launched 2016) have been in play for a decade, and ChatGPT has been a significant cultural phenomenon since its debut in November 2022. The confluence of these advancing technologies demonstrated voice in full functional AI hardware this year.
We witnessed novel applications of large language models—AI models trained on extensive natural language data—being integrated into hardware at a massive pace where voice was the pivotal feature driving simplicity in design and utility. The Rabbit R1 is a perfect example of this.(see device recap below).
If these innovations deliver on their potential, they will substantially decrease our reliance on traditional apps and websites in everyday usage. This is incredibly exciting for startups – this future implies no bad UI or UX will stand between you and your idea – an entrepreneur’s dream.
Driving AI: CES is increasingly the de facto automotive show as more than 600 mobility solutions were showcased as the ultimate consumer electronic product.
Qualcomm (QCOM), as expected, was well positioned to capitalize on the shift to edge AI as generative artificial intelligence comes to smartphones, PCs, and automobiles, the company’s chief executive said at CES 2024.
Qualcomm Concept Car
CES 2013, Qualcomm rolled out the first electric Rolls Royce, the 102EX. It was a one-off battery version of the Phantom in 2011. The car used wireless charging from Qualcomm.
AI “Washing” Innovation, Consumer Expectations, and Confusion
AI was shoehorned into nearly everything, with many companies mainly utilizing OpenAI. It creates a few concerns given that the company has not entirely adhered to the ethical framework set out by many in the industry, including defined.ai‘s CEO Daniela Braga, Ph.D., an AI innovator who penned a manifesto that covers the range of concerns existing in AI: Ethical AI Manifesto.
It’s known that AI comes in various forms. Still, a prevailing misconception equates it primarily with generative AI, exemplified by ChatGPT (and the thousands of products now built on OpenAIs products). This narrow perspective can lead consumers to expect every AI-labeled product to emulate a chatbot’s human-like thinking. However, this oversimplification does a disservice to the diverse realm of AI applications that extends well beyond chatbots, encompassing remarkable innovations in robotics and computer vision.
Devices like Samsung’s Ballie and LG’s AI agent robot showcase engineering feats totally unrelated to language models. While generative AI has its place, other AI technologies contribute significantly to advancements.
LG’s AI Agent Robot, Product image courtesy of LG
Marketers should be cautious not to conflate generative AI with the broader AI landscape, preventing misleading expectations. Recognizing the diverse applications, from intelligent agents to robotics, allows consumers to appreciate the multifaceted nature of AI and its impact on various domains beyond the limitations of language-centric models.
AI-Powered Glasses to Cover the Show
Images were shot on Meta RayBans that rely on Qualcomm’s New AR1 Gen 1 chipset.
The most interactive and fun part of the show was wearing my Meta Rayban AR glasses, compliments of Santa Claus. I wore these dark sunglasses but am considering adding another pair of the clear glasses as my urge to photograph indoors was overwhelming, so I walked around with dark sunglasses on, leading some to believe I must have enjoyed one-to-many Vegas parties. Integrated glasses by Ampere called Dusk did show off lenses that change opacity in a range of environments. .
Google’s presence at CES was marked by a strong emphasis on their AI vision for mobile computing’s future. Google had the best booth layout and experience. Excellent aesthetics – like the ski resort of your dreams with booth staff tricked out in white puffy jackets. The entire city of Vegas was adorned with AI-themed billboards, and the monorail featured the iconic Bugdroid, showcasing Google’s commitment. At their booth, Google not only highlighted their latest developments in Auto, casting, and other areas but also provided demonstrations of their various AI capabilities. More automakers are also partnering with Google to offer vehicles with pre-install apps such as Google Maps and Assistant. The apps will come to select models from Ford, Nissan, and Lincoln this year, with Porsche following suit in 2025.
Meta AI glasses are powered by a generative AI chatbot, Llama 2, a large language model. They are hands down the best-looking and most practical glasses for covering a trade show.
Fan Favorites From the Show Floor
Image credit: Rabbit
Imagine a smartphone with an intuitive, unified, AI-driven interface that precludes you from visiting websites and dealing with apps. That means it could be the face of one of the biggest tech trends of the 2024. This is underscoring the trend of unfettered access to utility.
The Rabbit R1 is a lot like a phone, it has a camera and a SIM card slot, and it supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. If you’re curious about the Rabbit R1 and how it might change the course of personal computing – or at least show us how next-gen smartphone voice assistants might work – The first batches of the Rabbit R1 are due to start shipping to users later in 2024, although it seems availability is going to be somewhat limited to begin with – so you might have to wait a bit to hop on to the Rabbit R1.
What about Non-AI innovations?
Image Credit: Nicole Scott
Very few of those saving for this cheeky marketing move from Juice maker Tropicana – no A I in this CES edition – All vitamin D.
How Does AI Morph the Personal Computer?
Generative AI, with its capacity to create and adapt, puts new demands on our devices that yesterday’s PCs could never have supported. Yet, the PCs of the future are gearing up for this – engineered to be instinctive, anticipative, and obviously deeply personalized. The next PC you buy won’t just be assisted by AI – it will likely be fully AI-enabled meaning predictive. Put simply, Lenovo has transitioned from “DOS PCs” to Windows PCs, and now they are evolving from AI-assisted to full-fledged AI PCs.
Vishal Shah, GM of XR at Lenovo, commented, “GenAI-driven Realities are the next big thing for Mixed Reality. ” “It was great to demonstrate it as one of the signature #AIForAll experiences at the Lenovo lounge last week at CES along with our partner ENGAGE XR,” Shah stated on LinkedIn.
Lenovo at CES2024
Lenovo’s AI PC is orchestrating a tidal wave of AI empowerment in the realm of PCs, with innovation encompassing everything from the hardware’s heart, the chips, the brainy processors, and the code. At every level, they meticulously tailor their approach to align with the enterprise’s grand vision of a substantial surge in productivity among PC users. This concerted effort marks Lenovo’s voyage into what they boldly label a “monumental architectural” revolution.
This was apparent in their two-in-one PCs, the Lenovo ThinkBook Gen 5 Hybrid at CES. It’s a Windows 11 laptop powered by Intel Meteor Lake processors, but here’s the twist – it’s got a screen that moonlights as an Android tablet.
And here’s where the authentic innovation in form factor happens: you can detach the tablet part, and it’s a standalone Android tablet. Meanwhile, the bottom half keeps chugging along as a Windows machine, ready to plug into an external display.
These two parts aren’t just playing solo; they share files and run apps together.
In a world of gadgets, Lenovo’s ThinkBook Gen 5 Hybrid gives us a compelling take on the concept of “two devices in one” concept. We’d expect nothing less at CES.
Eureka Park is the true home to innovation for the startups.
Stand Out Startups: PhotonFi and Glidance AI
PhotonFi’s LiFi is leading the paradigm shift where photonic connections will be integral to data networks, bringing secure and blazing-fast speeds
“PhotonFi is using the vast and untapped light spectrum to transmit data reliably, securely, and at unprecedented speeds in an eco-friendly way, “ said Mike Fasulo, Co-Founder and President of PhotonFi
PhotonFi benefits include:
- Higher speeds (up to 10x)
- Lower delay (30x lower)
- Total immunity to interference, hacking, and detection
PhotonFi Incorporated provides LiFi solutions, which are revolutionary IT networking technologies that amplify connectivity using invisible light.
Their system enables powerful LiFi capabilities in a simple and effective way. The innovation will augment Wi-Fi and 5G, creating seamless connections for environments where secure, fast connections are needed. Mike talks about how this innovation can transform ESport at CES. Fasulo is a long-time San Diego resident and former President of Sony, so this company is certainly one to watch.
Glidance with Stevie Wonder at CES 2024
A robotic mobility device for the visually impaired. Stevie Wonder used the assistive device at #CES2024 to experience the technology in action. Glidance.io identifies targets and obstacles and finds the best routes using an array of sensors to help those with low vision find their independence and their destination.
Innovation Products Worth Mentioning: Safety, Comfort & Art
A safe phone from Samsung and MMGuardian designed for kids. For years, smartphones were promised to be swiss army knives. The trend toward simplicity is an encouraging one.
Taking it full circle back to the AI anti-snore pillow by DeRUCCI, any innovation to assist sleep after a non-stop show like CES is welcome.
And one of my favorites:
LUMIQ is the maker of LightMaps.io, a Data visualization in the art that is stunning in its utility, form, and functionality. See what’s happening at a glance with your data via the art on your wall. This product vibes with the AI trend of CES2024 while embracing simplicity and utility. And it just looks good.
Putting it All Together
The innovation economy is ready for AI to solve a host of problems, but the general public still faces challenges regarding upskilling, ethical concerns, and more.
The top barriers hindering successful AI adoption at enterprises both exploring or deploying AI are limited due to: Lack of AI skills and expertise (33%) in workforce,, too much data complexity (25%), ethical concerns (23%), AI projects that are too difficult to integrate and scale (22%), high price (21%), and lack of tools for AI model development (21%).
According to IMB’s surveyed organizations, AI is already having an impact on the workforce:
- One in five organizations reports they do not have employees with the right skills to use new AI or automation tools, and 16% cannot find new hires with the skills to address that gap.
- Companies citing AI’s use to address labor or skills shortages are tapping AI to reduce manual or repetitive tasks with automation tools (55%) or automate customer self-service answers and actions (47%).
- Only 34% are currently training or reskilling employees to work together with new automation and AI tools.
The goal for innovators in 2025 should align with the marketplace training and ethical needs in order to solve the real problems – beyond talking toilets and voice activated gizmos.
I hope to see more San Diego innovators at #CES2025 January 7-10, 2025.