CTA's Gary Shapiro Abbreviated Preview of CES '17: AI, VR, AR, mHealth

Consumer technology trends are moving rapidly and offer the promise of keeping us virtually connected to loved ones who are thousands of miles away in reality or to see completed projects augmented in our own reality.

CTA CEO Gary Shapiro Previews His Open Mobile Summit Keynote and the Next Tech Advancements for CES 2017

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Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, shared his insights with Open Mobile Media’s Robert Gray into what’s forthcoming on the tech horizon and what visitors to the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas can expect to see on the showroom floor. Shapiro will also be the keynote speaker at the upcoming Open Mobile Summit.

OMM: How are smart devices, artificial intelligence, chatbots, and the Internet of Things changing our lives and society?

Shapiro: They are changing our lives significantly and quickly. Artificial intelligence is changing the way we work. The last generation was all about computers and now it’s all about artificial intelligence.

We have an abundance of lawyers in this country, but increasingly we have the capability where hundreds of pages of legal documents can be analyzed in under a minute.

Artificial intelligence is going to change the nature of how we work, what jobs we do and what services we provide. Chatbots are hot right now, thinking machines are using natural language processing and t talking back.

Facebook added a text-based chatbot called HelloVote to sign up voters, it was phenomenally successful. There were spikes of voter registration occurring in a matter of hours once Facebook put it out there. It didn’t require humans, other than processing.

Obviously AI is something we’re using today: it powers Google searches, powers Amazon suggestions, and Facebook friend recommendations. And increasingly, as cars have active collision avoidance and park themselves, that’s what they’re using.

In healthcare, it changes how, or if a doctor seen, and if they are seen, how they can get information about the patient.

In education, some people are visual learners, some are audio learners, or people to people learners, once you find out what kind of learner you are, AI can help you.

In energy usage, AI is being use to make sure we run our products and get to places more efficiently.

AI will be behind what I think is one of the major changes in the next 20 years--whether we drive our vehicles or they drive themselves.

Every area of our lives, healthcare, energy, Even agriculture and food production, some of major problems we talk about today will be solved by AI and assisted by chatbots.

We’re seeing that at CES, the Internet of Things has gotten so large that we don’t section it off anymore. Anything can be connected and we’re seeing more and more smart devices, Artificial intelligence will be bigger than ever at CES 2017.

OMM: What are the new trends in the use of virtual reality? 

Shapiro: It’s extremely hot; we project revenue growing over 440% and revenue in the US will be over half a billion dollars and over one million headsets will be sold this year, a 5 percent jump. It’s great for sports and concerts, but there are opportunities there. It’s starting to be used for shopping, whether it’s how you improve your home or test out makeup or clothes or virtual stores for brands. It’s huge for education and travel. Google has a phenomenal amount of content available for virtual field trips.

Obviously for training, commercial applications for pilots, architecture, first responders and health care, those are important and happening quickly.

For CES 2017 we’re seeing a lot of growth in our gaming and VR marketplace, over 60 exhibitors will be there--a record. The Augmented Reality marketplace as well, obviously VR and AR are huge and growing quickly, there are fits and starts and with the consumer it depends on content. When you’re gaming you’re active you’re leaning forward, when you watch TV you lean back, but virtual is kind of in between.

OMM: What do you expect to see in advancements in wearable technology?

Shapiro: The wrist real estate is definitely very popular; the numbers are really good for sales. It’s very popular for wireless health. Companies like Qualcomm and Intel are showing lots of health and medical stuff.  Several hundred people come from the Food and Drug Administration to a one-day conference in Maryland. There’s a shortage of physicians, which will drive some of this in terms of acceptance. You don’t have to go to a doctor for a checkup if the device is working.

There will be insertables increasingly, measuring things. There will be a lot of these in the next several years. We’re going to a world we can measure what we want and get a lot of information, and put together with AI and predictive medicine, find out if you are likely to have a heart attack.

And the challenge with diabetes--people don’t want to take blood out. There are a number of companies that say they can check the blood out without taking it out. We expect to see tremendous growth there.

We’re seeing lots of sports stuff, it’s great for coaching versus how your health is monitored. Concussion is a big area; it’s pretty obvious it’s a serious issue for football, soccer, field hockey and a whole bunch of sports. As we want our kids and families to be healthy, AI and sensors and with the popularity of smartphones a lot of innovators are adding AI and coming up with amazing solutions.

OMM: How do you employ mobile connectivity at CES?

Shapiro: We allow people to have a digital map of CES, we use connected beacons. At CES 2016, we had over 1,500 beacons to help people navigate the show floor, but for this year we’re doubling that to more than 3,000 beacons so people can get around. One area that’s not exploited yet is helping people get around venues, whether it’s a shopping mall or an indoor casino, it’s frustrating.

Notifications can help with directions and send information to you. We’re also very sensitive about privacy, we gather info anonymously. I think as we go forward as a society I think tradeoffs between privacy and customized assistance, people generally want customized assistance. You have to tell the tailor your sizes to get something to fit you.

It’s a milestone year for CES, your 50th year. What are you expecting in Las Vegas for the show?

Shapiro: We’ll have a huge number of areas of the show focused on vehicle tech, wireless, drones, sensor technology, AR/VR and other categories, including a whole separate content area.

We have Under Armour founder/ CEO Kevin Plank, talking about how technology is shaping performance tech lifestyle.

We’ll have 3800 exhibitors across 2.4 million square feet of space. There will be 600 startups in Eureka Park, 20 marketplaces, 300 conferences, more than 1,000 speakers, 165,000 attendees including 50,000 from outside the US, over 6500 media between Jan. 5-8 in Las Vegas.