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Expect Incremental Innovation, not Disruption at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019

by Werner Goertz  |  December 21, 2018  |  Submit a Comment

Welcome to December: ‘tis the season to be merry but also wonder what CES will bring! CES 2019 expectations will be driven by three fundamental insights:

1. Disruption comes from software, AI, and platforms – hardware will commoditize
Displays may go from 4k to 8k resolutions, smart phone screens from 6.2” to 6.4”, and next gen wearables or drones may provide incremental, evolutionary progress. Such innovation is nice to have, but will not cause use cases that completely alter the trajectory of users’ lives. Rather, such revolutionary change will come from software (creating cross-device experiences), AI (Reinforcement ML), and platforms (converging platforms across vendors). The hardware devices will become the tools and channels of consumption rather than the source of value creation.

2. CES and its exhibitors must evolve or face extinction like CeBIT
For years now, CES has failed to bestow on us the next “killer gadget”, and we have learned to expect platforms, lifestyle experiences and services to make the headline news at CES instead. Organizers and exhibitors must embrace this change in emphasis and manage attendees’ expectations accordingly. The demise of the venerable CeBIT in Europe is the specter to remind us that goalposts have moved and will continue to do so.

3. Unprecedented technology disruption will shape our lives for the next decade
The next three years will set in motion a disruptive force that is unprecedented in the history of technology evolution (and here, I include the mainframe, personal computing, or the impact of mobility)! What we’ve thus far experienced as AI (supervised/unsupervised ML) will be helpful in automating certain processes (such as natural language processing or computer vision), but the advent of Reinforcement Learning will take AI to the next level of anthropomorphic design. The challenge is that digital innovation vastly outpaces analog.

I predict that CES 2019 will offer the same as over the last years. Expect no new killer device. There’ll be lots of incremental innovation along trajectories that are already visible and well understood. Lastly: expect the Uber ride from the Venetian to the Las Vegas Convention Center to take even longer!

A disruptive technology revolution is just around the corner, but it will not become apparent amidst the noise, fanfares and media blitzes of the Consumer Electronics Show. Hold your breath for the second half of 2019!

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Werner Goertz
Research Director
1 years at Gartner
21 years IT Industry

Werner Goertz is a Research Director within Gartner's Personal Technnologies team, where he covers personal devices (smartphones, PCs/Ultrabooks, tablets/ultramobiles and wearables) and IoT. A special emphasis of his research lies in the Human Machine Interface (HMI) and multimodal I/O technologies: voice/speech processing and recognition, facial recognition and eye tracking, biometrics and motion/gesture control. Read Full Bio

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