CES 2019: The 4 biggest trends, demystified

CNET | 1/15/2019 | Jason Hiner
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After all the CES product blitzes are done, the multimillion dollar booths are packed up and the PR buzz has utterly spent itself, the real trends become a lot more clear. Following CES 2019, some big tectonic plates are shifting. A few started moving in years past, others are more fresh. But four trends stood out above all the others.

Most people have been talking about these trends in terms of products, acronyms, and jargon, but we're going to talk about them in terms of their actual human impact. We're going to dejargonize and demystify them. So, let's get started.

Term - CES - AI - Problem - People

By far, the most-used tech term at CES 2019 was AI. The problem is that when most people hear "artificial intelligence," they still think of human-like machines that could one day eliminate humanity, like in "The Terminator." While there were a few robots at CES 2019, most of them were barely functional and entirely harmless. The AI that took center stage at CES was something very different.

"AI pervades the show," said Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association that runs CES. "Almost every major company is showing AI and applications that are just truly jaw-dropping,"

Thing - Jaw-dropping - Cars - CES - Years

The closest thing to jaw-dropping was probably self-driving cars, which have been at CES for the past several years but took another step forward this year. CNET's Jessica Dolcourt was one of the lucky few to hail a ride in a self-driving Lyft at the show, for example.

The biggest battleground of CES 2019 -- Amazon Alexa versus Google Home -- is primarily an AI battle that plays out in voice-powered smart speakers that are the hottest new category in consumer electronics. They're quickly rising to the level of previous fast-growing categories such as smartphones, tablets, computers, TVs and DVD players. They're also rapidly becoming the AI poster...
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