by Manjiry Tamhane
Last year, CES was most aptly described as more of an evolution than revolution. The reverse is true in 2017. This year’s event was a complete game-changer. Behind the high-profile, attention-grabbing gadgets is a very clear commentary on how voice recognition, artificial intelligence and smart technology have combined to irrevocably change the relationship between brand and consumer for the better.
"Smart" was the prevailing theme at this year’s event—and I saw (and heard) it everywhere. From lightbulbs to toasters and TVs to vacuum cleaners, the devices on display didn’t just "do"—they thought. Smart devices themselves are not the real game changers here. It is AI and, in particular, voice recognition, which promise to accelerate consumer adoption.
Relevance, ease-of-use and trust have all been barriers to consumer adoption and, until recently, many smart devices were controlled by a smart phone. The ability to turn lights on and off via a smartphone has been around for some time but not necessarily widely adopted. Frankly, why get off the sofa to grab your smart phone to turn off the lights when there’s minimal additional effort to simply walk over to the light switch? Voice recognition was the crucial missing component—and it was all over CES.
So it wasn’t surprising that Amazon’s Alexa stole the show.
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