CES 2019: Enter a world of artificial intelligence

ASEAN+ January 22, 2019 01:00

By THE STRAITS TIMES
ASIA NEWS NETWORK
SINGAPORE

3,614 Viewed

THE BEDSIDE lamp lights up gradually 30 minutes before your morning alarm is set to go off.



After being roused from your sleep, you say "Good Morning" and the bathroom lights turn on immediately. As you get dressed for work in front of the mirror, it recognises who you are and starts displaying newsfeed customised for you.

 These scenarios were among the numerous artificial intelligence (AI) showcases at the latest CES in Las Vegas, the world's largest consumer electronics trade fair.

From the pre-show presentation of tech sales and forecasts by CES 2019 organiser Consumer Technology Association (CTA) to the keynotes by different technology firms, AI was a topic constantly mentioned.

 Thomas Husson, vice-president and principal analyst at research firm Forrester, defines AI as "a system of capabilities for machines to interact, think or mimic human intelligence and engagement", which helps automate tasks and improves employee and customer experience.

 "While it is early days yet and there is a lot more innovation to come, AI is increasingly embedded everywhere and will increasingly have many new uses," said Husson.

 On the CES 2019 show floor, there were plenty of gadgets that are utilising AI for better user experience.

 For example, wearable company Vuzix's latest smart glasses, called Blade, is the first pair of Alexa-compatible smart glasses. Vuzix is also looking into adding Google Assistant to the Blade in the future.

 Pet-device maker PetCube joined the voice-assistant bandwagon and announced two smart pet cameras that let pet owners use Alexa commands to throw treats to their |pets.

 "With customers demanding instantaneous response and easily distracted, AI is seen by companies as a solution to increase engagement and retain customers," said Loo Wee Teck, research firm Euromonitor International's head of consumer |electronics.

 In fact, in market research firm Euromonitor International's Industry Insights survey to companies, 58 per cent of respondents believe AI will improve customer engagement in the next 12 months.

 For consumers, AI will primarily be in the form of digital voice assistants, such as Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Assistant and Samsung Bixby, as well as in smart appliances ranging from smart speakers to smart homes.

 Digital assistants will be going into everything from home appliances to cars, said Lesley Rohrbaugh, CTA's director of market research.

 There is definitely "a shift in consumer behaviour to voice", according to a study last year by CTA on US adults about the use of digital assistants.

"Voice is quickly becoming the go-to interface as it is very easy to interact with voice," said Rohrbaugh.

 On the eve of CES 2019, Google announced that Google Assistant is now available in one billion devices, after Amazon declared that it has more than 100 million devices running Alexa.

 At the show, Google had a booth three times the size of what it had last year. The booth showed off Google Assistant's capabilities in a home setting as well as a "Disney-like" ride that features Google Assistant helping.

 According to Loo, a key reason for the blossoming of AI is tech giants Amazon and Google making the application programming interface of their AI readily available to third parties.

 Amazon has the Alexa Connect Kit, while Google has the Google Assistant Connect Kit for device-makers to implement these voice assistants into their devices.

 "AI development is now democratised and available to start-ups, not just for multinational companies with deep pockets," said Loo.