2019 CES: Anticipating a revolution that transcends personal devices

2019 isn’t the beginning or the end of this change, it’s the year it becomes clear that the future will be nothing like the past.

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Ameen Fahmy (CC0)

This year, there are a lot of moving parts regarding personal technology. First, we have the foldable screens coming to smartphones, which will likely migrate to other devices. Second, we are due for a major refresh on existing AR and VR technology, bringing both closer to the mainstream. Third, we have 5G ramping up shifting performance loads from the devices to the cloud. Fourth, we have deep learning replacing machine learning as the primary way we build AI. Fifth, we have the Apple watch, which, in its ultimate configuration, is basically a wrist-mounted smartphone. And finally, we have the disruptions associated with a weakening of Apple and Intel, opening the door for more innovation and some major changes in the existing technology power structure.

Let’s take a glance at some of what we can expect this year.

The foundational element of change

If you’ve ever seen supercooled water, it is fascinating to watch. You lower the temperature very slowly and keep the water very still and it will remain liquid well below freezing temperature. Then, one tiny disturbance and you near-instantly have ice.

In 2019, smartphones still largely look like iPhones…and laptops mostly like the laptops we had at the beginning of last decade. Advertising has been reduced, people are keeping their devices longer and the power structures we once had – Intel founded by IDF, and Apple run by Steve Jobs – are long gone. At the same time, we’ve had the introduction of a number of new technologies that individually are very powerful but, together, have the potential to dramatically change what we use and how we use it.

These technologies (and the changing power structures) are all revolving around each other, finding ways to bind, to change, to create and to ferment innovation and revolution. Markets hate a vacuum and will find ways to fill it. At present, we have a vacuum of leadership in the personal technology space and these technologies – and both the new and old companies increasingly figuring out how to use them – are collectively formulating a revolution. This year we should see the result.

The new class of product and a new concept of customer experience

This new world order largely begins with the cloud and the near-unlimited amount of power available there. This power isn’t yet fully used to its full potential – largely because we are mostly mobile now and the existing 4G technology isn’t up to the level of performance we need. 5G will open this up and allow us to get the performance we need anyplace we need it.

Part of that needed performance is for AI. The new engine behind AI is deep learning, and it is more powerful than anything that’s preceded it. You may have heard about it being able to provide medical advice and diagnosis far better than actual doctors. The new breed of deep learning-driven AI also has the potential to tell someone what they need to know before a lack of knowledge lands them in trouble.

This is the kind of capability that will increasingly be at our fingertips. It will define our job choices, our life choices and even some of our personal choices. But this is just the beginning.

The Apple watch with WAN connectivity showcases just how mobile this technology can now become. Always with you, always on you, just waiting for the right question to provide that golden opportunity for insight and knowledge that’s both accurate and timely.

And this brings us to folding screens and mixed reality headsets. The images our devices present aren’t limited to the size of the device anymore. Screens can fold out or be mounted in front of our eyes to become as large and as invasive as we want or need them to be.

Blended with an AI based on deep learning, the combination of these things will increasingly define our reality…bending our imaginations, our concepts, our beliefs and creating something very new, very different and just a little magical.

But I left out the customer experience part! The firms we serve – and that serve us – will have information about us at an unprecedented level. The successful firms will learn how to transform this information into better products, better experiences, better services, and far higher customer loyalty and satisfaction. The unsuccessful ones will use it against us, get caught or never learn to use it in the first place.

A new world order

Years ago, the technology market was defined by one company – RCA – and they were unbeatable. Since then, we’ve seen the fall of technology leaders with every major change in tech as those leaders failed to pivot with the times.

Intel is so lost they can’t even decide on a CEO. Apple, despite having one of the technologies that should define the future, has lost the ability to influence that future.

This opens the world to change – and this change will be amazing.

2019 isn’t the beginning or the end of this change, it’s the year it becomes clear that the future will be nothing like the past.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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