Gadgets of the future unveiled at annual tech show

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Alex Stone/ABC News(LAS VEGAS) — Intelligent toilets, virtual comfort animals and lots of robots will be unveiled in Las Vegas this week for the Consumer Electronics Show, the annual tech industry extravaganza that brings over 4,000 companies together for a week of sharing their latest innovations with the world.

All eyes on 5G

The next generation of mobile technology, 5G, is expected to be a major theme at this year’s show, promising lighting-fast speeds.

One of the touted capabilities of 5G is that you can download the entire Game of Thrones series in just minutes.

“5G is the fifth wireless generation but it will be the first that will be led by the enterprise; it will touch every economic sector,” Steve Koenig, the vice president of research at Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES, told ABC News. “5G will be a major narrative at the show.”

Koenig emphasized 5G is much more than just about cellphones. Many companies and industries are figuring out how to use the technology in everything from smart home devices to cars to much more.

“For example, Ford Motor Company announced at CES 2019, that by 2022 Ford cars will support 5G,” Koenig said.

How companies will implement 5G in nearly every device is something everyone has their eyes on.

‘Intelligent’ Internet of Things

The “Internet of Things” — connecting everyday devices online — has been a key theme for the past few years at CES, but this year it will be all about artificial intelligence’s influence on IoT.

“Thinking about the last decade was mostly about connectivity. We describe that with the term IoT. Starting now we are confronted with an entirely new IoT,” Koenig said. “This decade is about intelligence.”

“This new IoT, the intelligence of things, bears testimony to the fact that artificial intelligence is touching every part of our commerce and our culture,” he added.

While AI in various forms is already popping up in people’s daily lives, Koenig added that it will be interesting to see how AI will “start to shift human behavior in the next decade.”

“5G and AI are key ingredient technologies that will underpin pretty much everything we are doing in the next decade,” Koenig added. “Those are two major themes that will overlay the entire show.”

Digital Health

While the focus in the past has been on big, new TVs or drones, this year is all about smart health tech, a major sector in this year’s show that is already generating buzz.
“Because health is important to everyone … the innovations thereof will probably touch most of us,” Koenig said.

“We’re starting to see innovation in the consumer tech space push beyond wearables. 2020 is when digital health becomes a lifestyle,” he added.

New innovations in the digital health care space will be on exhibit — from AI-assisted technologies to help diagnose diseases to highly-advanced fitness trackers and wearable health gadgets.

Smart diapers and Amazon Alexa-enabled bicycle helmets are just some of the digital health devices already making waves at the show. Another, is Xenoma’s smart pajamas designed for the elderly which monitor all users’ vital signs as they sleep and send an alert if something is wrong.


CES has famously become an auto show of sorts in addition to a tech show over the years, and “this year is no exception,” Koenig told ABC News.

Some of the themes to look out for within the car space at CES are electrification, micromobility and self-driving cars.

“CES 2020 will feature a lot of electric vehicles, a lot of announcements from some pretty big companies in the space,” Koenig said. “CES 2020 will set the tone for the electric decade as it pertains to vehicles.”

Micromobility is another exciting theme this year, as companies focus on smaller vehicles to help with globalization and traffic.

“We need things like scooters and electric bikes because our cities are becoming more dense,” Koenig said.

Self-driving cars have been a theme in vehicle tech for the past few years at the show, and this year the latest developments in that space will be on display.

All the surprise gadgets we didn’t know we needed

One of the fan-favorite parts of CES is all the unexpected gadgets that pop up every year that we didn’t know we needed: whether it’s a robot that can fold your clothes or a virtual comfort animal.

“There are always, always those unexpected surprises, some new use-case of a technology that we didn’t think about before,” Koenig said, adding that we can expect a lot of those this year.

“A lot of these exhibitors keep those cards very close to the deck, what I can guarantee is that there will be many of them,” Koenig said. “I would sharpen that statement a little bit by saying really look at the startups.”
Qoobo, a virtual comfort animal, is already gaining attention and love online. The cushion with a tail that wags based on how you pet it could work for someone who can’t be around pets or may not be allowed to have them in their apartment. Unfortunately, even the virtual animal, however, reportedly sheds.

From science fiction to reality

“The idea here is that as we move forward in this decade, things that today seem like science fiction to us will become reality, and that’s what’s really exciting about CES 2020,” said Koenig.

“We’ll experience technologies, we’ll hear about expected implementations of technologies,” he added. “CES is the world’s largest and most influential tech event on the planet, as a result, it really transcends the traditional tech industry.”

“All of these companies are really going to be showcasing the next level of innovation, across pretty much every economic sector,” Koenig added, noting the variety ranges from healthcare companies like Cigna to farming equipment makers like John Deere.

Whether you are a tech nerd or not, CES is worth tuning in to if you are interested in ways to “work smarter, not harder,” Koenig added.

“Consumer tech touches pretty much every aspect of our daily lives, whether we are at home or at work or on the go,” he added. “A lot of people are interested in ways to work smarter, not harder. They are interested in technology innovation that delivers more comfort and convenience.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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