Robots are coming to retail. AT CES last week, there were plenty of robots in all shapes and sizes. Some are intended to be home companions and others to aid on the factory floor. At the annual National Retail Federation Big Show in New Yoro this week, one robot that is already making its mark in retail was on display showing how it can do its thing.
The store of the future is pretty much here and while some consumers may not see the technology, it will see them. At retail's annual Big Show put on by the National Retail Federation (NRF) at the Javits Center in New York this week, some advancements in facial recognition for retail were demonstrated. I signed in a tablet at the entrance to the display by NEC Corporation of America (NEC) and the camera took my picture. After a few seconds, I walked through the display and I was instantly recognized as I neared store monitors.
At CES last year, voice was a big deal, primarily as companies announced that their respective products could be enabled by Amazon Alexa. At CES this year, voice also was a big deal, but in a somewhat different way. More companies announced that they were teaming with Amazon Alexa, with the Amazon voice agent integrated into their product.
CES in Las Vegas is the land of out-there innovation, as long as show-goers know where to look. The days of CES being located in one location, such as the Las Vegas Convention Center, are long gone. The show is now scattered around town, in various official show locations, including the convention center, The Venetian, Aria, Monte Carlo, Wynn Las Vegas and others.
The annual CES show in Las Vegas is a showcase for all the latest and greatest technology, but also can create an opportunity to put the total reliability of all this tech into perspective. One such case was a two-hour power outage that shut down the central hall of the massive Las Vegas Convention Center. That's the hall that housed tech giants including Samsung, Sony and LG. The cause was due to rain, which also paralyzed travel around town, no matter how easily a person could connect with the Uber or Lyft app. Self-driving cars could not beat lengthy traffic …
At CES last year, there were many smart home devices introduced. However, many of the devices were one-function oriented, such as a smart light or a smart thermostat. At CES in Las Vegas this year, companies are launching systems that glue all of this together. In a major step in this direction, Comcast Xfinity at CES today announced it was significantly expanding its home automation across the entire Xfinity portfolio, which includes its voice remote, home security and Xfinity mobile.
Smart speakers may be putting a dent in smartphone usage. Consumers who own in-home digital voice assistants use their smartphones less for online purchasing and entertainment, based on a study released at CES this week. The majority (66%) of consumers who own smart speakers were found to use their smartphones for fewer applications in the home since getting their smart speaker.
Toyota unveiled its design of a self-driving concept vehicle at CES in Las Vegas today and a deal with Pizza Hut to use such a vehicle to deliver pizza was announced right after. However, there is more than that under the hood. Pizza Hut became one of the founding members of a new 'mobility services business alliance' that also includes Amazon, Mazda, Uber and Didi, Uber's Chinese rival. Toyota's self-driving vehicle concept is called e-Palette and the intent of the global partnership is to explore the future of pizza delivery and other initiates aimed at improving mobility around the world.
Even before the onslaught of new introductions of gadgetry at CES next week, data suggests this will be a seriously big year for smart speakers. Shipments this year are projected to reach 38 million units in the U.S. alone, with 4 million devices in China, a distant second. Overall this year, 56 million smart speakers will be shipped globally, according to a new forecast from Canalys.
At CES last year, voice was a big deal. Primarily, companies were introducing ways that their product or service could be activated or interacted with through Amazon's digital assistant Alexa. At CES in Las Vegas starting Tuesday, voice again will be highlighted, but in different ways.