January 8, 2019
January 8, 2019
A bread-baking robot that cranks out golden, fresh loaves every six minutes. Another robot built just to love you—and is cute enough to make you want to keep it around. A wearable electrocardiogram monitor that connects to one of the major innovations on a blood pressure cuff to emerge in decades. In-ear translation. The first wireless router built just for 5G.
Sound like a lot to sift through? It is.
This is a small fraction of what NACD staffers who attended a pre-show event for the press encountered ahead of the official opening of CES today, and we’re here to make sense of what to pay attention to, and to focus on what the experts are saying about the future of technology.
NACD and Grant Thornton on Monday night welcomed a group of directors and their guests to cocktails and dinner over a panel discussion that set the scene for a busy two days to come. Ahead of their arrival, NACD staff went behind the scenes to preview exhibitors’ booths and attend sessions featuring some of the foremost leaders in connected technologies.
What did the experts have to say ahead of the opening of the show floors? Their insights follow.
The guru of CES points out what merits directors’ attention. NACD Chief Programming Officer Erin Essenmacher snagged a few minutes with Shelly Palmer, CEO of The Palmer Group and emcee of one of the most-attended sessions at CES, to discuss how directors should focus their time and analysis of the items on the show floor. (For more from Palmer, stay tuned to NACD’s YouTube channel.)
When asked about what most excites him about CES, Palmer said the event is like a crystal ball for business people looking to see what’s next. Palmer emphasized that technology is about serving the customer and changing their behavior. “Technology is a tool,” Palmer said, “and it’s useless unless it changes the way we behave. It needs to make us more productive, or healthier.”
Palmer, who has been attending CES for the last 30 years and will lead NACD’s CES Experience tour today, said he most enjoys witnessing the evolutionary steps that companies take, and how they respond to disruption.
Take, for instance, personal assistants and their recent iterations. Palmer in recent presentations has asserted that incremental innovations in personal assistants are not just hype. Rather, companies such as Amazon and Google are being improved to hook customers on the platform, and to improve the answers given based on voice commands. The more consumers change their behavior while using the tool, the smarter the underlying artificial intelligence (AI) becomes. The same iteration is happening in other devices, and in the companies that have entered the competition for their business lines.
Palmer also drew attention to the growing sophistication of AI and its ability to recognize people. While Apple has never exhibited at CES, its facial recognition technology is being used to log into phones and to identify patterns in data related to healthcare, for instance. In a presentation made exclusively to NACD members and others who will tour CES, Palmer pointed to Google AI’s Lymph Node System, a technology that has helped doctors recognize patterns in patient data that lead to breast cancer diagnoses with 99 percent accuracy. “AI is a super exciting field and technology. Everyone here claims it, and some lie about it, but ultimately this is a technology that is going to matter,” Palmer said.
The connected future will require a paradigm shift. A panel of executives from companies such as Qualcomm and Verizon Technologies addressed a standing room-only audience about the challenges that companies, governments, and the economy will face as autonomous vehicles (AV) get closer to market. While the panel focused predominately on AV challenges, many of the same principles could be applied to other industries and facets of life touched by the Internet of Things.
“We all have a keen desire to make world better place,” said Lani Ingram, vice president of smart communities at Verizon. “But it’s not always easy. I do think we have the ability to make lives better. The goal is to make sure we don’t lose sight of that while getting up to speed.” Ingram’s comments were made during a discussion of the practical challenges to how we think about and operate as citizens and businesses within cities as we now know them. Among the points discussed were:
Check back on Wednesday for coverage and more expert takes on the main event: tours of the CES show floors and a look at an exclusive pitch-off sponsored by KITE.