CE Week once again descended on New York City and it was bigger, with more information packed into a few buildings, than Times Square on New Years’ Eve. The show brought to life how pervasive technology is in our daily lives with exhibits spanning everything from promising start-ups in the Innovation Zone, to big brands launching new products.
However, just like in Spiderman, with this great power comes great responsibility. Throughout the show it was clear companies, policy makers and general consumers felt the weight of that responsibility in sessions debating everything from automotive technology and driverless cars at the Connected Car Conference to panels about patient security in the face of digital health, as well as the displacement of specific industries once 3D printers are more readily and cost effectively creating everyday products in the home.
As the days crept by, a few recurring themes surfaced regardless of the technologies being discussed.
- Keep it simple, stupid. While the average 20- or 30-something consumer is quite tech savvy these days, that doesn’t mean they crave a convoluted technological experience. The desire for simple, seamless connectivity across devices and platforms is one area where Millennials to the stereotypically more tech-challenged Baby Boomers can all get along. Developers and manufacturers who crack the code to one-touch communication between a consumer’s wearable device, to his/her home and the connected car s/he drive will have a competitive advantage in the purchasing consideration set (Spoiler: see theme two).
- Everyone needs standards. Whether it was conversation around creating a standard platform for OEMs and their partners to build upon for connected cars, to standardization enabling entry of more app developers so there is greater cohesion across wearable devices or 3D printers, creating standards will be key to the further progression of connected technologies across industry lines.
Industries steeped in regulations – like automotive and health – will be able to bring new technologies to market more quickly if a standard, approved platform is in place to ease reviews and approvals. Similarly, standardization will enable more up-and-coming developers to cost effectively access, build, and distribute their applications – such as with wearables and 3D printing. Lack of standards will continue to slow the technological progress and adoption needed to reach a point where all of our technologies are talking with one another. We’ll worry about the rise of the machines at that point.
- Keep it secret, keep it safe. Just like the sage words Gandalf bestowed on Frodo about the One Ring, being responsible for the privacy and safety of information is a heavy burden to bear. Privacy discussions centered on managing the appropriate use of information; such as people’s personal information being used to identify potential for disease and course correct, versus being used by insurance companies to raise rates. Additionally, security is something we are all responsible for maintaining, whether it is the creators of an application, government bodies determining the regulations and standards being put into place, or consumers maintaining their passwords. All for one, one for all.
This year’s CE Week showed that we are at an interesting turning point with the potential to have industrial revolution-type impact. As new industries form, older ones will need to learn how to adjust and adopt new rules and ways of doing things to remain relevant. Especially as consumers seek a more connected lifestyle, powered by their own personal data, easily accessed on a safe and secure platform.