Last week, more than 180,000 people from 150 countries gathered at the Las Vegas Convention Center to attend the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which is considered to be the world’s gathering place for anyone who thrives on the business of consumer technologies. The show, which has been a proving ground for breakthrough technologies and innovators for five decades, featured more than 4,500 exhibiting companies that included manufacturers, developers, consumer technology hardware suppliers and more. CES also showcased a conference program with more than 250 conference sessions.
As it has in the past, CES featured technology innovations from numerous categories including smart homes, wireless devices and services, high tech retailing, Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure, smart cities, autonomous vehicles and more.
“CES showcases the power of innovation to solve global problems and improve lives around the world,” Consumer Technology Association (CTA) president and CEO Gary Shapiro said in a release. “The passion, ideas and business connections at CES make this the most significant global tech event – and the most inspirational week of the year.”
5G networks were one of the topics discussed during the conference, as CES stated it’s the only show where the entire 5G ecosystem, which includes the backbone for transportation, virtual reality, sports tech and digital health can come together.
“5G will change everything—5G is the promise of so much more than what we have seen from wireless technology,” Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said during his keynote.
AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan also talked about 5G during his keynote when he discussed his company’s recent 5G evolution network launch. The carrier updated some attendees’ phones to show a “5G E” icon instead of the standard “4G LTE” in the status bar. This move has proved to be controversial in the industry as it is not true 5G.
Artificial intelligence (AI) also proved to be a hot topic, as keynote speakers talked about how it will influence every aspect of our lives. Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and CEO looked at how AI will prove data is, the “world’s greatest resource” as it enables revolutions from smart cities to healthcare, transportation to robotics. Delta CEO Ed Bastian and Wal-Mart Executive Vice President of Food Charles Redfeld shared examples of AI and blockchain technology in their businesses during Rometty’s keynote.
Almost a dozen of the world’s leading car manufacturers were on hand at CES 2019 to present “the future of transportation,” which included Bell Helicopter’s air taxi and Harley-Davidson’s electronic motorcycle. Self-driving technology was also on display, as it is believed that it will help save lives, provide more accessibility and improve productivity.
Perhaps what was most interesting about 5G, AI and self-driving technology being so heavily touted at CES 2019 was the merits of all three innovations came into question at once on the Sunday evening before the show. A self-driving Tesla hit a $2,000-a-day rentable humanoid robot that was on its way to the Promobot booth on a Las Vegas street. There was a passenger in the vehicle, but the car was in autonomous mode.
Whether the incident was a publicity stunt, as some have speculated or not, it does raise the question of whether we’re ready for 100% autonomous vehicles. Although 5G is seen as the network of the future, it’s not officially here yet, nor are the road sensors needed to ensure fully self-driving cars are safe. AI, 5G and autonomous vehicles have been promoted for years at CES, and if this accident is any indication, it might be a few more before the combination of three are road ready.