Wondering what to expect at CES 2020? Or even better, let’s talk about what we should expect from the biggest consumer technology event in the world. Looking at the challenges the world is facing, we see purposeful brands take their responsibility seriously and play a part in finding meaningful solutions. It should be no different when we look at the major technology players, since it’s clear that many of the challenges we face are either caused by technology and its consumption or that the solutions must be found in tech.
What should we be looking for when we go to Las Vegas in a few weeks? Here are some key trends I anticipate will rise to the top:
INCLUSION & ACCESSIBILITY
Tech is an enabler, but not for everyone. And that’s a growing concern. Voice technology is a good example — with an expected 8 billion voice devices by 2030, it’ll shape our behavior and it’s supposed to make our lives easier, but not for everyone, unless we act. Project Understood from FCB Canada and The Canadian Down Syndrome Society is working with Google (and hopefully the other platforms will follow) to make sure that voice works for people with Down syndrome. This is a group that could greatly benefit from the technology. Fromdaily reminders to keeping in contact with loved ones and accessing directions, voice technology can help enrich lives and promote independence. With a search engine like Google that seemingly knows everything, people with Down syndrome actually have the opportunity to "teach" Google to recognize their unique speech patterns and make the technology more inclusive for all.
There’s also Dot Translate, which looks at using AI to make all written content available in Braille for the blind. Or another project from FCB and Wavio: See Sound, a revolutionary technology to help the deaf live a life just like anyone else. We should start to see more efforts from technology companies making sure their tools and devices enable better living for everyone, where it’s designed for inclusion from the start.
SUSTAINABILITY & GLOBAL WARMING
Tech is a big driver of consumption — with new phones every year that offer minor upgrades versus the last one, components made out of rare materials, and all while being very hard or even impossible to repair. So while we see tech companies going big on sustainability when it comes to powering their campuses or factories, the devices we buy and the hardware our services run on still remain largely un-ecological.
Companies such as Patagonia showcase that it’s possible to bet on sustainability and even build a brand on it and Doconomy showed that you can take responsibility for people’s consumption, even when you’re a tool that people use for that exact consumption, when they launched the DO Black credit card, the world’s first credit card with a carbon footprint limit. In tech, Microsoft shows that it can be done, as they made some fundamental changes to the new Surface Pro X, which Geek.com called "shockingly easy to repair" — but this is more of an exception that proves the rule. It’s time to rethink that.
PRIVACY & DATA PROTECTION
All our eyes are focused on the major platforms, as it seems there are plenty of big privacy issues to deal with. Heck, Apple is betting hard on it as a key differentiator — remember their ad at CES last year? It shouldn’t be something you differentiate on. It’s something that all tech should take a lot more seriously — it’s not that people don’t understand that some of the benefits they receive come from sharing some personal data… but why all so sneaky?
And those are the big guys. How about all those smaller players of which we always see so many at CES as well, who don’t have the finances, skills or tech needed to make sure our data is securely protected when we use their service? Norton stated there have been 3,800 publicly disclosed breaches or a total of 4.1 billion records exposed, and as stated, those are just the breaches that we know about. What will the industry do to make sure products and services in the future are designed for privacy?
So, I know what I’ll be looking for at CES in January. Next to the range of exciting new gear, the self-driving cars or ever-growing tech in healthcare, there’s a need for big tech to show their responsibility and I hope we will see signs of that in Las Vegas.
Kris Hoet is chief innovation officer at FCB.