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CES offers a view on where tech is going – and adds to divisions

The CES Expo show, from the Consumer Electronics Association, is primarily about consumer technology as the name of its organiser suggests. However, kicking off today as it does, it offers a number of technology announcements that will impact the corporate world.

Intel, for example, is among the companies offering revamped virtual reality. The prospects for estate agencies showing people around homes that are not yet built, for tourism, for training scenarios and doubtless other as-yet unimagined applications are many.

However, it’s offering its own VR headset. As it’s powered by Intel this is understandable; however, anyone who has attempted to buy a headset for the family over Christmas will have found that the low-end consumer versions, at least, are not universally compatible with everything else (and are generally a wraparound for a phone) – maybe one big favour CES could offer would be to ascertain some sort of definition of “VR headset” before the market gets completely confused.

CES and the Internet of Things

Likewise in need of a definition or at least of some more serious case uses is the Internet of Things. As we alluded to earlier this week, someone is launching an Internet hairbrush which detects breaking hairs; quite why this needs to be beamed around the world is beyond our guessing. It does raise, on a small scale, issues around privacy and security; to what extent do we want people knowing when we’re brushing our hair – and how hackable should a hairbrush be?

Connectivity and beyond

There will also be a lot of play around 5G technology, the implementation of which has already been queried in the UK as we’ve reported. Essentially, the more bandwidth available on the move, the more scope there will be to develop facilities such as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa, allowing devices to be controlled by voice away from a fixed Internet connection.

Whether these facilities and others become responsive and able to learn rather than simply parroting responses will be a matter for another major focus of CES, artificial intelligence (AI). This will inform Google’s Assistant and much else over the coming years.

It will also inform the driverless car market, which is likely to become significant and will affect people responsible for their company’s fleet of vehicles. That’s not the only job to be impacted of course; we’ll look forward to reporting the reaction when IT professionals wake up overnight to find themselves responsible for 100 company cars that have suddenly morphed into nodes on a network.

CES runs until Sunday.