This is a guest post by Daniel Newman, Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and CEO of Broadsuite Media Group

Part of succeeding in this digital world is to not only know what tech is working for you now, but also what tech you can expect to leverage next. That’s why I always keep an eye on trends—like the power of AR in the coming year, for example (more on that in a minute). What better place to look for trends than CES, one of the world’s largest tech conferences that displays innovations in everything from consumer products to larger, enterprise-tech trends? Let’s explore the technologies on display at CES that will make headlines this year.

  1. Smarter Cars. I know what you’re thinking, and no—I’m not just talking about self-driving cars. The automotive advancements shown at CES this year focused on the experience of driving the vehicle, not the vehicle itself. Drivers can now integrate Alexa into their vehicles, too, so they can hear music, check their schedules, or even re-order items—all, of course, with their voices.

See also: Why Cisco’s partnership with automotive companies like Hyundai is a game changer

  1. Convertible Tablets/Laptops. Move over tablets and laptops—time to make room for convertibles like the Lenova X1 Yoga. It has a keyboard that folds behind the device (not detaches) for operation in both table and laptop mode. It’s also has substantial computing power and robust functionality—something many convertibles also boast. Look for the convertible market to continue to grow in 2018.
  1. Better Batteries in Every Product. It wasn’t just tech and devices on display at this year’s CES—it was also the science behind what keeps them powered. I don’t know about you but I carry an external battery to make sure my devices stay charged. It would be nice to not have to do that—and companies are listening. That Lenovo convertible I mentioned earlier, for example, is said to boast a 20-hour battery life on just one charge, thanks to a specially designed processor (see also: chip wars). Qualcomm—the brains behind that processor, actually—is working on tech that could triple the battery life of Bluetooth-powered wireless headphones. Couple these advancement with wireless charging (see below), and this is definitely a trend to watch for this year.
  1. Augmented Reality. I’ve said in the past that augmented reality would outpace virtual reality, and I still believe that today. Of course, VR is still growing, but AR is likely to explode this year, especially as it becomes more widely available on mobile.

See also: Developers create augmented reality for mobile

  1. Smart Cities. Cities are beginning to infuse sensor technology into infrastructure in an effort to positively impact public health and safety. As I’ve written about before—I have long said smart cities will make us smarter, allowing us to be more efficient with our time and resources. It’s becoming a reality. Can you imagine a sensor that can pinpoint the location of a gunshot and dispatch police instantly? It’s on the horizon in smart cities.

See also: Cisco announces $1 billion dollar program for smart cities

  1. Companion Robots. If CES gave us any indication of the future of robots, things are about to get a lot more personal. Somnox, for example, has developed a companion robot to help you fall and stay asleep. Honda also unveiled noteworthy developments at CES, such as robots that can even use facial expressions to show compassion by leveraging AI and machine learning.
  1. Chip Wars. Laptop chips aren’t what they used to be—they’re better, featuring longer battery life, more memory, better graphics capabilities, and robust computing power. For example, look at Intel’s new chip that incorporates AMD graphics, making gamers all over smile (and Nvidia, a key competitor, sweat a little.)
  1. Mobility. Mobility was a huge theme at CES 2018, but not in the way you might expect. We’re not talking about a hot new smartphone or device, for example. Think bigger. Toyota unveiled e-Palette, an electric, mobile, autonomous driving-supported space open for retail, delivery, and even ride sharing. Some big names are already on board, including Amazon and Pizza Hut.
  1. Smart Home Devices. You can find Amazon’s Alexa technology in a number of devices, including those around your home. In 2018, look for Amazon Alexa to get some hefty competition from Google Assistant. This was a key rivalry to watch at CES this year.
  1. Artificial Intelligence—in Everything. Look for smarter products, processes, vehicles, solutions—and even cities—in 2018. Let’s not pull punches—AI is everywhere and powering everything. I’ll touch on a few of those specific developments as we move through more of top tech trends from this year’s CES.
  1. Health Sensors. The IoT is growing exponentially, especially in healthcare. Yes, there are factors to consider when it comes to HIPAA compliance and personal data, but one fact is undisputed: sensors can empower people improve their health and well-being. One key example is Nokia Sleep, a sensor embedded into a mattress pad that collects data on your sleep cycle and sleep patterns. It will even lower the temperature as you drift off and open the blinds when you wake. Ultimately, the product generates a sleep score so you can see how well you’re actually sleeping.

See also: the new frontier of healthcare technology

  1. 5G Technology. I’ll just cut to the chase: 5G tech will change the world. Why? With its multigigabit download speeds and uber-powerful connectivity, 5G provides the computing power needed to handle the surge in, among other technologies, the IoT boom. 5G is just getting started, so you’ll definitely want to keep an eye on how you can leverage it in your business.
  1. Drones. It’s not a surprise drones made the list of top tech trends. After all, they’re functional gadgets that people love to explore. A key lesson from this year’s CES, though, is the importance of UX, even in products consumers are already drawn to. Consider, for example, the Oori drone. It can fit in your palm, is speedy enough for professional use but also user-friendly enough to be used recreationally. The bottom line? UX still wins.

See also: How real-time drone data is saving lives

  1. Facial Recognition. I look for facial recognition and other biometric solutions to improve not only the functionality of tech, but also the security of multiple devices, from mobile phones to home security systems.
  1. Virtual Reality. The shift in VR in 2018 is that companies are staring to target lower price points, especially as AR booms in the adjacent market. For example, consider Facebook’s new Oculus Go—a powerful VR device for around $200.
  1. Connected Devices Everywhere. Unsurprisingly given the IoT’s growth, there was a lot of chatter at CES about sensors this year. Not only are there more of them from a numbers perspective, but there’s more they can do, too. For example, L’Oreal’s debuted its UV Sense, a sensor that adheres to your thumbnail and monitors your exposure to the sun (along with other variables, too). It’s also battery-less. More connectedness means more sensors, and more sensors means more wearables—and, apparently, adhesives. This is definitely a trend to watch.
  1. Wireless Charging. We still need cords to charge our devices—for now, anyway. Wireless charging is on the horizon, thanks to brands like Powercast and Energous. Both unveiled chargers that send power to multiple devices over the air. While the distances and charging power varies by product, the implication is the same: mainstream wireless charging is coming sooner rather than later.
  1. Security subscription services. As the capabilities of tech expands, our need to keep networks and devices secure follows—or, in some cases, leads. So, it’s no surprise security was a big theme at this year’s CES. Notable was Netgear Armor, an add-on for Netgear routers that boosts security to all your devices by protecting you from phishing websites, viruses, and ransomware. A bonus? It costs less than $100 annually.
  1. LED TVs. Micro LEDs TVs leverage, of course, micro LEDs. They’re thinner than a strand of human hair, consume less power than their larger counterparts, and deepen the contrast of the picture on the screen.
  1. 3D Printers for More than Just Plastic. 3D printing technology has altered how we ideate, engineer, and manufacture. The printers themselves have gotten smaller and more accessible from a cost-perspective, too. The limitation has historically come from a materials perspective, though: most only worked with plastic. Now, a new solution from Desktop Metal allows users to print with metal. This is a very big deal for those in manufacturing and a number of other industries, and it’s one I’ll be watching closely.
  1. Boosted Performance Analysis in Sports Tech. A golf club that grades your swing. Video cameras in first-down markers for college football games. AI technology in professional drone racing. All these and more were on display, as this year’s CES featured a major sports tech theme.

See also: Sports teams tackle VR

  1. Big Data. Everything is connected, especially with 5G enabling more IoT devices and smart cities on the rise. It’s not just municipalities riding the data train, though; companies are constantly seeking new ways to collect data that powers processes and streamlines everything from the supply chain to the customer experience. But—and here’s the big thing—how do you make all that data actionable? Can that process itself be streamlined? The answer is yes, and it’s definitely something to watch for this year.

It was certainly an eventful CES this year, and we have a lot to look forward to in 2018.

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