By Nitin Dahad
LAS VEGAS — More intelligence in devices, electrification of vehicles, and digital health are the top tech trends to watch for in 2020, said the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) in the opening presentation at CES 2020 here in Las Vegas.
“The last decade was about the internet of things [IoT] — but now, we kick off a new decade defined by the intelligence of things,” said Steve Koenig, vice president of market research, CTA. “Connected intelligence defines today’s device ecosystem from consumer favorites such as smartphones and TVs to an expanding universe of smart home solutions making intelligent living spaces a reality. Over the next 10 years, the dynamic of connected intelligence will grow apace with advancing 5G networks and innovative applications of artificial intelligence (AI) to propel the consumer tech industry forward — and with it, consumer experiences, safety, health, and more.”
To readers of EE Times, this might not be new, as embedded intelligence in connected devices has become increasingly important because of issues such as latency and security increasing with the need to gather and process significant volumes of data. Manufacturers are now taking full advantage of the potential of embedded technologies for both connectivity (such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi) and sensors, which they are incorporating into practically every device on the market, according to the CTA. These technologies, embedded in several key products such as wireless earbuds, health and fitness devices, smart speakers, and smart home products, were enough to help the hardware segment maintain slightly positive growth in 2019 and will contribute to increased hardware growth in 2020.
With 5G on the horizon and AI providing the brains to everything from digital assistants to vehicles, this will drive much of the connected intelligence market. Skyrocketing popularity of streaming services and wireless earbuds along with 5G connectivity and AI-enabled devices will drive revenue growth for the U.S. consumer tech industry to a record $422 billion in retail revenues in 2020 — nearly 4% growth over last year.
“More and more consumers are embracing the faster connectivity, advanced intelligence, and seemingly infinite content that technology offers today — pushing consumer technology industry revenues toward another record-setting year in 2020,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA. “We’ll see advancements in 5G connectivity and AI play out across the CES 2020 show floor this week — from digital health to self-driving vehicles and smart homes — vital technologies that are changing our lives for the better.”
Smartphones lead growth due to 5G
Smartphones will lead the growth again, but so will digital health. After a dip in 2019, smartphones will recoup losses with an uptick in 5G-enabled smartphone shipments this year. Smartphones are projected to reach 166 million units (2% increase) and earn $79 billion dollars in revenue (up 3%) in 2020. 5G smartphones will hit their stride, with 20.3 million units sold (a 12× growth spurt over last year’s initial introduction) and generate $15.3 billion in revenue (10× percent jump), with the build out of U.S. 5G capabilities. According to Steve Koenig, “By 2022, the market will flip from a 4G focus to a 5G focus for handsets.”
CTA’s forecast for digital health devices, which includes smartwatches, fitness trackers, and connected health monitoring devices such as blood pressure monitors and smart scales, projects that 64 million devices will be sold this year, with a total value of $10 billion.
The future of transportation: EVs will be the big story in 2020
Koenig said that 2020 and the whole coming decade will see electrification of vehicles become more mainstream. “We are finally at the inflection point where electrification makes sense. This is the decade for electrification of vehicles, not just cars. Electric vehicles (EVs) will be the big story for CES 2020.” He pointed out that this is due to innovation in battery technologies as well as better charging infrastructure and business models.
He added that we will also see more and more commercial deployments of self-driving car fleets. Koenig also said that while a lot of the multi-modal transportation work has been focused on the last mile, CES 2020 will be about the “next mile” — in other words, flying cars for urban areas or electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) cars.
Highlights of trends to watch in 2020
Here are the key points in CTA’s overview of tech trends to watch in 2020:
- Consumer tech transforming from internet of things to intelligence of things
- 5G handset shipments to reach 20.2 million handsets in 2020
- 5G will be led by the enterprise, with two key areas of focus: massive IoT and critical IoT
- Consumerization of AI: We’ll find AI in a lot more end-devices and services
- Connected intelligence in more everyday devices, with upscaling AI chips in TVs, facial recognition in doorbells, and object detection in home appliances
- Advances in virtual reality, with six degrees of freedom, and augmented reality, with AR glasses becoming more realistic
- Transportation will evolve, particularly self-driving fleets and electrification
- eVTOL cars will take off
- Digital health becomes a lifestyle, with everything from sleep tech to baby tech, plus telemedicine and remote surgery and AI-assisted diagnosis
- Resilient technologies come to the fore, with areas like cybersecurity, public alert systems, disaster recovery, and emergency preparedness
- Task-based robots will become the norm