The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas has come a long way since it was first launched in New York in 1967. With 200 exhibitors attracting 17,500 attendees, the big news of the day back then was pocket radios and televisions with integrated circuits.i Fast forward to 2019, and a lot has changed. The CES, now dubbed as “the global stage for innovation” has grown to over 4,400 exhibitors and more than 182,000 attendees from around the globe.
Some of the pervasive themes for this year’s show are how technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), 5G wireless connectivity, and the Internet of Things (IoT) will enable our interactions with the world around us to be smarter and better. Making this complex ecosystem of providers, consumers and technologies work together as intelligently as possible requires a foundation of direct and secure interconnection that can deliver the performance, scalability and security required to build a smarter world.
Smart homes set to steal the spotlight
One of the biggest stories, however, may be the smart home, particularly devices that leverage AI for speech recognition. With rock bottom prices and an ever-increasing array of smart home devices for sale, adoption is accelerating. IDC predicted shipments of nearly 550 million smart home devices for this year,ii and demand for voice-controlled smart home devices will eclipse smart phones by 2023, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics.iii
As one of those adopters, I recently had the opportunity to watch my two-year-old granddaughter interact with Alexa. Being at the age where she understands a lot more than she can verbalize frustrates her. She was talking to Alexa to see if she could get the device to understand her request to turn on the Christmas tree lights. I’m not sure who was teaching who, but, when I asked Alexa to tell me what are you doing now, the response was, “I’m learning.” Voice recognition is critical to the success of these devices. Without real-time interaction between the device and cloud-based AI to improve voice recognition, the frustration level could go well beyond the coping skills of users at any age. What was really fascinating about this interaction is that my granddaughter simply assumed that Alexa would understand what she wanted. I believe that, with patience and practice, Alexa eventually would.
That assumption is a good indicator of what will be on stage at CES this year. An intelligent home that responds to our every command, regardless of how garbled our voice may be or which device we want to command may be a vision of the digital future, but it’s already being taken for granted by tomorrow’s consumer. For the “smart” in home to truly fade into the background, however, it needs to become more integrated, interconnected and, well, smarter. Chief among the technologies that will underlie these smarter, faster and more connected experiences are AI, high-speed wireless connectivity (4G/5G), IoT and, of course, direct and secure access to the cloud. Most smart home devices are already compatible with the two biggest cloud players in the market – Amazon and Google – and others are expected to make major announcements at the show this year. Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the smart home innovations that will be featured at CES2019:
- Voice assistants everywhere, connecting you to the world outside and helping you manage your smart home through your phone. Google Home and Amazon Alexa have captured much of the market, but expect to see other players as well as partners that will extend the reach of these assistants beyond just speakers you can talk to, such as smart refrigerators and entertainment hubs. Check the weather, go shopping, find recipes, discover new shows or music, turn on the lights and more through these smart assistants.
- Smart security through video doorbells and interconnected home security systems that can stream video surveillance footage to mobile phones.
- Smart energy lights, valves, water heaters, thermostats and more to help you monitor and optimize your energy usage while helping you pinpoint problems like leaks more quickly.
- Smart wellness wearables for fitness, medication reminders and sleep monitoring are just a few of the smart health devices that will be featured. There’s even a bed that will automatically adjust to your sleeping patterns to ensure that you get the highest quality sleep.
Interconnecting all those smart home dots
A slight pun was intended – after all, the Amazon Echo Dot hit an ultra-low price point of less than $25 for Black Friday 2018, making this entry into the smart home market affordable for just about any consumer. As the smart home market continues to grow, ensuring the best possible user experience will depend on connected ecosystems that leverage proximate interconnection between partners and customers that is fast, secure and consistent. Smart homes will evolve to become part of the larger smart city connected ecosystem that brings together different technologies, solutions, players and audiences, including IoT, 5G connectivity, transportation and smart automotive, energy and utilities, health and public safety, artificial intelligence, and data analytics. This will require an even more agile, scalable, secure and controllable level of interconnection to support the requirements and capabilities smarter cities and their users will demand.
Interconnection Oriented Architecture® (IOA®) best practices enable the kind of real-time, secure interaction between people, locations, clouds, data and things to connect all these dots at the digital edge, close to where everything resides. An IOA® approach allows connected device makers and partner ecosystems to meet, collaborate and innovate via direct and secure interconnection to create and deliver high-quality, personalized experiences to users through any device, anytime, anywhere.
In a future blog, I’ll be discussing how this high level of interconnection is vital throughout the lifecycle of connected devices and the IoT systems that support them. In the meantime, you can learn more about how to implement an Interconnection strategy that best fits your business.