It’s been over a month since the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and I’m just now sitting down to share my ideas with you. Maybe its good it’s taken so long. It gave me a chance to see what some others are saying about it all, and gain some perspective.
This year’s CES didn’t have the fanfare of previous years, at least not that I experienced, but in the years since I started attending, this year was the most significant.
BEYOND ‘THE INTERNET OF THINGS’
Two years ago the Internet of Things hit, or #IoT as it’s called. I come from the Smart Home industry, and IoT just bugged me. I felt like it was the latest marketing buzz term to rebrand smart homes, but a term that brought more confusion than value.
I recognized IoT had bigger applications than just Smart Homes, but the first year at CES, minus a cool Smart Kitchen Demo, there just wasn’t anything new. It was the Smart Home industry rebranded as IoT. The connected world of IoT was nowhere to be found.
Going into CES this year I expected the takeaway to be about Amazon Alexa integration, Virtual Reality and Drones. And there were a lot that incorporated these items in their demos. But there was something else, and as an industry I just didn’t think we talked enough about it.
For years, we’ve been seeing concept tech for the Autonomous car. This year was no different. There was still plenty of concept tech to see, but the conversation changed. Autonomous cars are happening, it’s not a question of ‘if,’ but rather ‘when.’ I know that’s not necessarily news, but it’s significant all the same.
The Internet of Things is about a connected world where every device shares data. When IoT first hit, the obvious application was the Smart Home. But that’s a small sampling of the bigger picture. IoT allows everything in our world to be connected and share information.
That’s neat! But when are we going to need everything in our world to be connected? What’s going to drive that change? I saw it at CES. It’s the Autonomous car. Nothing has the ability to drive us into a connected world faster than the Autonomous car. Now that manufacturers have figured out how to do it, the transition to a connected world will start to accelerate.
There are six levels of Autonomy, and current cars are at a level two. For Cars to be completely autonomous, they have to be at a level five. Pioneer’s VP of Marketing, Ted Cardenas, explains that it isn’t just about self-driving cars, but infrastructures like highways and stoplights will have to adapt. (see the interview here.)
What do we mean that infrastructures have to adapt? Cities have to become smart. They have to be apart of the Internet of Things. Cities have to be able to harvest and share data, assimilate the data, and share it out to other connected devices that need it, like the autonomous car.
This isn’t as simple as putting a smart chip in the Stoplight. We’re talking about a world where literally EVERYTHING is connected. To give you a better idea, check out this cool article about efforts the UK is making to bring more ‘sensors’ into the city to harvest and relay data.
There’s another piece to all this. How does our world change, when cars are fully autonomous and fully connected? Your car is now an extension of your life. The commute is no longer a commute, but your time to use as you please.
How many people do you know using ‘Virtual office space?’ Will they still need an office space, if they can just hop in a car for an hour when they need privacy? You could answer emails, hold business meetings, or maybe use virtual reality to have lunch with a friend. Who knows? My friends that scrap for time to produce content and social media, imagine the time you’ll have to consume and create content with Autonomous cars?
The Internet of Things and the Connected world needed a catalyst; something to drive the change. I saw it this year at CES, and it’s the Autonomous car. I can’t think of anything that can drive change, and usher in the era of the Connected world faster. I’m excited to watch it all happen. It’s going to be a great ride.
Matt is a co-founder and lead systems designer for TYM LLC. His smart home and audio/visual designs have won three “Home of the Year Awards” from Electronic House & CE Pro magazine, and two awards from the Consumer Technology Association, including "Home Theater of the Year", and "Custom Smart Home of the Year".
Matt is a golden State fan.