Why CES 2019 Will Star 5G, Immersive Reality, Digital Trust, Voice UI

IT EVENT PREVIEW: This year, 5G connectivity, immersive reality and digital trust are high on the interest list. These all provide the ultimate in personalization and end-user experience, enabling a connected ecosystem across smart cities, smart homes and in-vehicle technology.

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Accenture, one of the world’s largest and most respected teams of IT consultants and integrators, has some pretty specific ideas on what will be making headlines next week (Jan. 8-11) at the Consumer Electronics Show 2019, which is expected to attract about 175,000 attendees at several locations in Las Vegas.

CES 2019, as always, will focus on IT innovation. This year, 5G connectivity, immersive reality and digital trust are high on the interest list. These all provide the ultimate in personalization and end-user experience, enabling a connected ecosystem across smart cities, smart homes and in-vehicle technology.

Businesses will invest more to ensure better data security and privacy with blockchain underwriting their efforts, and voice assistants such as Google and Alexa will be a large part of discussions at CES. AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality) and XR (extended reality) will be a part of everyone’s lives. These are the stories to watch, Accenture told eWEEK in a media advisory.

Accenture has identified these stories based on its own research and latest interactions with industry clients:

  • Story No. 1: 5G Connecting Everything
  • Story No. 2: Immersive Reality Goes Mainstream
  • Story No. 3: Digital Trust at the Fore
  • Story No. 4: Voice-Enabled Devices & Alexa
  • Story No. 5: Self-Driving Cars and In-Vehicle Technology Innovations 

Here are more details about each:

Story No. 1: 5G Connecting Everything

CES will showcase the next stage in 5G this year with a tangible look at the benefits of this technology to industries around the world and the proliferation of devices that are gathering data anywhere and everywhere, and what this means for both businesses and the end user. 5G is a key requirement for fully enabling technologies such as autonomous vehicles, the continuing development of smart cities and the internet of things (IoT) connecting everything.

While expansion of connected homes will increase, consumers will take different routes to personalize their own connected homes, influencing platforms and usage across markets. Concerns on how their data is used will need to be addressed and will impact brand loyalty when choosing which products are best and allow consumers to feel safe and comfortable in a truly connected home.

Now, all eyes are on the telecommunications market, and the U.S. already has major cities (Houston, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Indianapolis, to name a few) where 5G now exists in home internet. The race is on at full speed with wireless providers Verizon, T-Mobile, Spring and AT&T announcing their intentions to form full-on 5G networks across the United States. 

Most mobile manufacturers claim they will release their much-anticipated 5G phones in early 2019, where consumers can expect best-in-class wireless service with speeds never imagined before. The story will be who will get to the finish line first without any painful end-user experiences.

Story No. 2: VR, AR and XR: Immersive Reality Goes Mainstream

Accenture believes that immersive technology will impact how content producers, brand marketers and a wide variety of industries go to market in 2019.

The VR Story: Consumers are bringing VR into their homes at lightning speed as they engage in the experiential side of what VR offers and continue to become more educated on its benefits. This year’s story to watch will include the competitive race to manufacture stand-alone headsets with a new form factor more conducive to the end user in efforts to attract audiences that are slow to adapt to VR. To date, there are 7 million VR headsets in U.S. households—still only 6 percent of the U.S. homes but a 25 percent increase from 2017 to 2018. VR has impacted nearly every industry, allowing the end user to immerse in thousands of experiences in the music, fashion and entertainment industries.

The AR Story: Phones and tablets are not the only venue for this technology, as Pokemon Go launched this technology to the masses with its experiential competitive game. The goal of AR is to create a convenient and natural immersion, with discussion topics at CES focusing on rumors of the disappearance of phones and tablets with the continuing enhancement of AR technology while still addressing political and ethical issues around privacy concerns as more consumers adapt AR into their lives.

Extended Reality: Gaming and entertainment have seen the most use with extended reality to date. However, use of wearable XR devices and supporting mobile applications will expand in all aspects of lifestyle, including theme parks, resorts/hospitality and continuing education. XR has been defined as the combined environments of both AR and VR with enhanced immersive technologies, or the merging of the physical and virtual world that will change the way we live, work and play.

Consumers already immersed in the benefits of XR will be open to adopting in other areas of their lives. XR will organically produce benefits to consumers in additional industries such as health care, with many medical experts immersed in how XR can enhance patient care for many generations and ailments.

Story 3: Digital Trust at the Fore

Accenture sees digital trust as being a priority topic at CES 2019 as more homes become connected and people become increasingly reliant on always-listening DVAs (digital voice assistants) and the services they provide (medical advice, financial management, etc.).

Overall, consumers have become more cautious and tougher on the ethics of businesses and their data privacy and security practices; consumers will continue to expect more control over who has access to their location and other private data.

Related to this is the increasing use of blockchain technology in the media sector, continuing to solve challenges with consumer data sharing and digital rights management with a hyper-focus on what is accessible and what is private. By early 2019, more than half of all media companies will be using or working on strategies to implement blockchain technology.

Increasing concerns about data breaches are forcing many in the digital media ecosystem to implement blockchain technology that will in turn enable them to maintain ownership and control of valuable data. Blockchain has been considered the ultimate revolutionary solution to mounting ad tech fees and hours spent reconciling post-campaign reporting for payments, helping the industry to see more tangible ROI, which encourages advertisers to spend more in 2019 and beyond.

Story No. 4: Voice-Enabled Devices and Alexa

As the popularity of Amazon Echo smart speakers increases, more brands and companies are releasing products with digital voice assistants. Most home appliances, including smart TVs, will all have voice-enabled technology, showcased at CES as a part of the smart home. Televisions and streaming devices will connect with Blu-Ray players with audio-controls to help enhance the end-user cinematic experience. CES will include new and improved voice-enabled products that are more affordable and realistic for consumers, with nearly every kitchen-related appliance including voice command.

Additional home gadgets showcased at CES 2019 include voice-activated smart mirrors, showers and lighting to help personalize home bathrooms for any guest, plugs, chargers, light switches and virtually anything electronic. As more companies jump on the voice-command bandwagon, there will soon be more voice-activated gadgets in and outside of the home (in-vehicle and in public areas) versus non-voice command gadgets and products. As Alexa makes its way into every device possible, the biggest challenge and concern will be around which devices make the most sense for voice activation and which are better off left alone.

Story No. 5: Self-Driving Cars and In-Vehicle Technology Innovations

Virtual assistants, voice commands and connected cars as extensions of our smart homes—these new “inner qualities” will become much more important as new connectivity tech makes its way into our vehicles and, finally, turns them into the much-heralded “third place”–to go with home and office. We fully expect a new range of solutions for this at this year’s CES, along with serious efforts to create truly personalized car experiences through AI and other solutions that will enable cars to learn—and react to—drivers’ preferences.

Another big theme to watch, according to Accenture: smart mobility—or how cars will become an integral part of the intermodal mobility system currently in the making. New solutions will make car sharing, ride-hailing and multimode mobility even more convenient, cost-efficient and sustainable. And, yes: The race for “fully autonomous” vehicles might enter the next stage this year.

Some of the related key technologies you’ll see at CES this year include enhanced LiDAR (light detection and ranging), camera- and image-recognition solutions for self-driving vehicles, and training data storage, management, tagging and retrieval solutions—many of which will come not from established players, but from startups and non-automotive players. Another enabling technology for self-driving cars—5G—will also play a key role at the show, with network providers and telcos gearing up for the rollout of the high-speed standard.

Other key in-vehicle tech stories Accenture is expecting include solutions for the up-and-coming e-mobility revolution that’s expected to hit the markets this year, including remote battery charging and management.

eWEEK will be covering CES this year with Rob Enderle and Charles King and will be following up on these and other innovation IT stories throughout 2019. 

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...