While the rest of us are battling with the wind and rain wrapped New Year return to work, the annual Las Vegas based tech bash - CES - has started 2016 off with a bang. As you might expect, there is the usual deluge of fanciful and extravagant products to bamboozle and amaze; you no longer need to look out of the window as your ‘smart’ umbrella, and accompanying app, will tell you when it’s raining! Think of the productivity gains…
However, beyond the hype of the fringes sees some critical trends at the heart of the show. Of particular interest is a series of discussions, sessions and presentations under their banner of Tech Changing the World;
- Good news for Automotive, the ‘Connected Vehicle’ theme is thriving with new market entrants, and older established brands pushing the enhanced and expanded customer experience that connected vehicle can and will deliver. This ranges from seamless interactivity with your personal devices, through to accident prevention and improved passenger safety. Further, the connected vehicle is being seen to deliver myriad business benefits and opportunities through autonomous vehicles of all genres - industrial and agricultural vehicles through to personal drones.
- The rise and rise of 3-D printing continues to be a main stay of innovation. Healthcare, well-being, and veterinary science are all showcasing new ways of exploiting this revolutionary technology. The emotive, high impact and rapid delivery of cost effective prosthetics for children, veterans and animals (and others too!) remains centre stage in most media. However there is also the bio-printing of organs for transplant and even printing of medicines and foodstuffs utilising a heady mixture of ingredients such as chocolate and insect protein.
- Health Tech continues to thrive in the digital age. Digital patient records, or electronic medical records, continue to show improved care co-ordination and strengthen patient engagement with highly personalised care pathways. The digital interface offered at every stage offers real benefit from existing big data sets, but also provides the opportunity to build ever larger real time sets to influence care giving.
- Other areas of real interest include the innovations around delivering internet access to all of the truly challenging parts of the world, where such access has the power to revolutionise communication and deliver real humanitarian benefits. Facebook founded internet, .org, Googles Project Loon are some of the initiators in this critical sector. In a similar vein the UN Foundation sponsored Clean Cookstove initiative offers a real and meaningful application of technology to provide reliable, clean, safe cooking technology. Harnessing clean tech solutions to return greater fuel effectiveness, efficiency for cleaner cooking, but also delivering energy for charging mobile devices, providing light etc.
These shows are always a heady mix of the art of the possible and a wilful suspension of reality, but it’s really exciting to see that innovation with a real and meaningful human purpose has such high profile. Consumerisation inevitably leads to applications of technology which might be considered trivial, but so often it is these commercial endeavours that breathe life into more socially meaningful (and less profitable) applications of technology. Technology is ubiquitous, and long may the innovation cycle continue. By all accounts 2016 is set to be a cracker.
Matt Cockbill leads the IT, Technology & Digital Leadership Practices for Berwick Partners.