Earlier this week, crowds of excited journalists, brand reps and PR folk descended on Las Vegas for the annual celebration of technology and innovation that is CES. We were there, and saw lots of demos, gigantic booths and overwhelming displays; and some unexpected and quirky products. We at W2O looked high and low to find what we think will be the most important topics for you as you look to the next few years:
Watch out for news from the sky coming to a smart city near you, but it isn’t just drones this year. The Bell Nexus is an all-new hybrid electric aircraft designed to be an ‘urban air taxi’ as soon as the early 2020s working with companies like Uber to ease congestion and speed travel. On the ground, Mercedes showed off a prototype modular system with different pods using the same chassis, while Aptiv offered autonomous Lyft rides for attendees to and fro. BMW, Audi and others showed off their AD partnerships with tech companies like Intel and Bosch (respectively), with vehicles loaded up with 360 AR entertainment systems from partners like Warner Bros and Disney. When you don’t have to drive yourself, you’ll have plenty of time and space to enjoy all kinds of work and entertainment options!
PCs are Back?
After a multi-year streak of declining or flat sales, many analysts are predicting that 2019 will be the first year to see Y/Y growth (though small). Security improvements, along with Windows 10 performance improvements and supply availability driving reduced cost have finally broken the dam on companies holding back on refreshing their inventory. Additional improvements in laptop screen quality, battery performance, 5G and network improvements, voice and biometrics and other form factor changes will delight users that have grown accustomed to tablet use. We saw loads of great, high-end product launches from Dell, HP, Lenovo, Microsoft, Sony and others, as well as Chromebook-style updates for less expensive models.
5G is Everywhere, Again
It’s the announcement that we’ve heard before, but this time it’s being put into our devices – and cars – and towers – and everything else. 5G, the promise of faster networks and deconflicting traffic, has been all the rage, but hasn’t come to life just yet for 99% of the world. This year, we are watching for devices to become equipped with the ability to work on the network, signaling that reality is just around the corner. Development sandboxes from Intel and Verizon as well as development kits indicate that it’s safe for organizations to start planning for integration.
Voice Control + Personal Assistants
We had a chance to check out cute and cuddly robots as well as industrial ones, but the improvements were really in increased integration for voice commands with smarter responses and more helpful utilities (aka just a little smarter). Personal assistants, both virtual and robotic are maturing in skill set and utility and are beginning to offer real value to users of all kinds. Users are increasingly comfortable with voice commands and the devices becoming easier to manage, integrating with personal assistants in new ways. No major announcements are expected this year on the voice front, though Google and Amazon both made some incremental updates and integrations with transportation (Alexa on bicycles) and physical devices (Google Home has over 30 languages).
Have you ever wanted more visual space on your mobile device or laptop, but still wanted to fit it into your bag? The new generation of strong-but-flexible folding screens promise just that, with mobile devices that you can expand and contract, as needed. This may be one of the more high profile announcements of CES, but it isn’t quite ready for primetime just yet. However, the implications for incredible user experiences is truly exciting and makes this one a space to watch.
So How Does all of this Apply to Healthcare?
As with any trend, we believe you need to start with your strategy first, and then the right solution for your audiences will be evident. The technology above might be right for your audiences in health facilities, practices or at-home care with telemedicine. Improvements in AI, networking, security, wearables and voice control will continue to change how care is delivered to patients within facilities, as consumers, and for systems as organizations, but it’s never a one-size-fits-all. Some of the interesting digital health previews included ‘powered suit’ body-sized wearables that help with physical therapy and provide feedback that teach patients how to rebuild strength, even scaling down to ‘power gloves’ for arthritis. We saw backpacks that let the hearing impaired experience music and biofeedback wearables that improve quality of life through sensing what patients can’t – helping with Afib, Diabetes and other chronic conditions.
And finally, integrating user data with AI from systems, plus other personal historical information and context to enable better and more insightful recommendations for every patient or user. Whether the personal data comes from the individual only, or is blended with data from other blinded medical records and macro data from all available trend data, that information adds invaluable detail and reference to enable better solutions for all patient challenges. We expect to see interesting announcements from organizations large and small detailing how to connect data with real patient challenges in the rest of 2019, so watch this space for more!
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