7 Big Ideas Shaping the Future of Tech

Everything you really need to know about CES.

Thought Leadership • Posted
Left to right: Verge Motorcycles, Withing, Rabbit, and Swarovski Optik

As we reflect on the innovations showcased at CES 2024, it's clear that we are entering a transformative era where technology seamlessly blends into our daily lives, driven by advanced AI, user-centric design, and sustainable solutions. These trends not only redefine our interaction with technology but also set the stage for significant shifts in consumer behavior and market dynamics. Here's what to expect in 2024.

Your stuff—only now with AI

Although CES this year seemed to lack groundbreaking innovation, the rush to AI led to somewhat myopic product developments. Many products were similar to last year’s, only now with AI. In some instances, AI appeared to be a solution in search of a problem. Take Oclean’s Ultra X Digital Toothbrush, which uses AI voice tips to get you to brush more effectively, or the Cappella app, which promises to decipher your baby’s needs by “translating” their cries. However, the ubiquity of AI marks the end of its early adoption, ushering in a phase of more strategic, impactful applications.

Clockwise from upper right: Oclean's Ultra X toothbrush, Gluxkind's AI baby stroller, Motion's snore-cancelling pillow, Swarovski Optik's AX Visio binoculars

Implication for brands

The calming hype cycle, AI’s ubiquity, and the end of the race for early adoption is setting 2024 up to be the year in which AI implementation becomes more innovative, strategic, and purposeful. It’s not going away, but the winner this year will be the brands that are more innovative. Understanding the potential of AI, they will think past slap-ons and chatbots, and use AI and automation to create NBDB experiences for their customers, and to solve real business problems.

AI supports hardware advancements

There have been impressive advances in technologies that support AI manufacturing and the development of models. Dedicated AI computing hardware, processors, servers, and input technologies like LiDAR have made significant appearances. SOSLAB, for instance, showcased its 3D solid-state LiDAR technology, integrated into premium sedans, and unveiled the ML-A solution, demonstrating applications in software-defined vehicles and smart infrastructure solutions. Aeva announced a collaboration with Daimler Truck to integrate its Atlas LiDAR into Class 8 Freightliner Cascadia trucks, enhancing Level 4 autonomous vehicle capabilities with a combination of FMCW LiDAR, radar, and camera technology. And Gigabyte introduced supercomputers built to manage AI workloads.

Implication for brands

Supply chain issues that were delaying hardware and camera development seem to be largely resolved. As the hardware surrounding AI advances, AI-powered experiences will improve. Expect huge leaps in AI performance this year: better output, classification, and response time. Watch for massive growth in AI component companies.

Design will drive tech adoption

There's been a major push to make technology more invisible, designer-y, and fashionable. Huge advances in transparent screens, particularly impressive models from LG and Samsung, show potential to impact space design. Exterior and interior windows are becoming screens. Glasses tech is everywhere, with AR glasses that look like "normal glasses" and those with distinct designs attempting to become a fashion statement.

Implication for brands

Advances in transparent screens and a focus on design are allowing manufacturers to overcome the "nerd alert" barrier of AR hardware and drive its adoption. AR is becoming a fashion statement and a signifier of a growing tech subculture.

Cuteness cuts AI’s creep factor

The emergence of engaging, user-friendly AI interfaces suggests a trend toward technology that is both emotionally appealing and easy to use. Perhaps no product exemplified cute’s appeal more than the $200 Rabbit R1, a bright-orange, retro-looking walkie-talkie for AI. Within five days of the gadget’s unveiling, Rabbit racked up 50,000 preorders. Rabbit does not have a chat thread. Responses from the companion are voice-based with on-screen subtitles, mixed with UI elements selected on the fly. Teenage Engineering's Rabbit Design showcases AI in your pocket with a Tamagotchi style. The device has a 500ms response time and uses a large action model trained on demonstrated actions, rather than language alone.

Rabbit AI

Implication for brands

The emotional layer of AI experiences should be considered as part of the design. Cute, lovable, and familiar characters and interfaces soften the edge of the hard technology, enhancing natural language experiences.

Health tech soothes post-Covid anxiety

Health tech was a significant focus, from smart toilets analyzing waste to other innovations possibly reflecting lingering anxiety and fear in our post-Covid world—emotions compounded by longer lead times and shorter one-on-one time in doctors' office visits. Take Withings’s futuristic BeamO. The handheld telemedical device, which won three Innovation Awards at CES, provides a health check-up using a digital stethoscope that provides insights into your heart and lung sounds, a medical-grade 1-lead ECG to detect AFib, an oximeter that measures your blood oxygen levels, and a contactless thermometer to measure body temperature. For babies, there’s the Owlet BabySat, a wireless “sock” that detects pulse rate, SpO2, and motion levels.

BeamO from Withing

Implication for brands

There's a transformation in health care. As doctors become more reliant on data from at-home health tech, office visits decrease, and the doctor-patient relationship continues to become less personal. Patients now own their health data more than ever before, potentially leading to increased competition between healthcare providers.

The EV revolution is going places

Access to components, chips, and battery development technology is paving the way for automotive manufacturing startups around the globe. Togg from Turkey and VinFast from Vietnam both had strong showings with impressive ideas. The proliferation of electric motorcycles and e-bikes, like Verge Motorcycles’ TS, suggests that the shape of mobility is changing in 2024.

Implication for brands

Expect more competition in automotive. The landscape is starting to resemble the mobile phone market, with premium brands appearing more premium as low-cost yet high-performing outsider brands exert pressure, forcing mid-tier automakers to reevaluate their branding.

Move over electric—the future is hydrogen

There's a notable shift to hydrogen power for cars and cities. Hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe, has traditionally been produced from fossil fuels, solar energy, wind, biomass, garbage, and the electrolysis of water, with water being a byproduct of hydrogen power. Hyundai, Nikola (the leading manufacturer of hydrogen-powered semi-trucks), and Bosch (maker of hydrogen fuel cells) are showing significant investment in hydrogen.

Implication for brands

Lobbying from the fossil fuel industry may be pushing hydrogen as a "clean fuel." Hyundai's vision extends beyond vehicle production to a hydrogen-powered society. Despite the high infrastructure costs, backing from big fuel, substantial government subsidies, and a user experience similar to conventional gas refueling, hydrogen power could soon become a viable alternative to EVs.

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