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What can CES 2019 tell us about consumer innovations in the digital future?

The 2019 Consumer Electronics Show is being held in Las Vegas this week. As the world’s biggest technology exhibition, it’s the place technology companies display their latest innovations and give a taste of what the consumer products of the future might be. With new 5G networks likely to increase the prevalence of internet-connected products and the sophistication of these products, our Communications Coordinator Nike Akintokun looked at three things at CES that might have the biggest impact on consumers.

All of these and more will also be explored at Consumers International Summit 2019, held in Estoril, Portugal from 30 April – 1 May 2019.

Registration for the Summit is now open with Early Bird tickets still available, bringing together technology companies with consumer organisations, civil society and governments to explore the digital world for consumers and ask the vital question: What could the future look like if we put consumers at the heart of digital innovation?

1. Our fitness fascination will continue in the future, but can you keep up?

Health and wellbeing remains a big topic at CES 2019 especially within the area of fitness and wearables where this years favourites include the activity tracking, wearable Fitbit and Samsung Gear 3 wrist watch with heart monitoring technology.

From the use of smart fabrics that monitor heart rate to 3-D printed watch strap prototypes, these products are marketed as helping us to improve our health and wellbeing. However there are many questions about how much of our personal data is being collected about us, how secure is this data and is it being sold or used to market other products to us? 

Consumers International is already working in this area, including new consumer advice created with the Internet Society as well as Connect SMART guidelines on how consumers can stay protected when using these products. The Internet Society is also a lead partner at our Summit where they will release new research on consumers and IoT.

2. AI robots and machines turn childhood fantasies into reality

Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to grow and at CES 2019 the discussion surrounding AI, robotics, and its ability to shape the world around us continues with the introduction of new products including an anti-collision suitcase, which uses AI sensors to avoid potential obstacles and an AI toilet with voice assistant created by American plumbing company Kohler.

Around the world voice-activated assistants like Google Home, or Amazon’s Alexa use AI in the home. We’ve written before about the lack of clarity surrounding AI and how, as it becomes more ubiquitous in our day-to-day lives, consumers are protected.

At the Consumers International Summit, we will have sessions looking at how we can build products and systems with consumer safety, fairness and ethical expectations in mind.

3. The next chapter in the connected toy story

Children’s smart toy revenue is set to rapidly grow by 2023 and CES showcased some of these creations including the voice interactive Woobo, a smart toy that aims ‘to bring children’s imaginary toys to life’ using cutting-edge robotics and AI technology.

However, connected toys typically contain a microphone and speaker, and an app to process the data, if not properly secured these can cause major privacy and security issues.

Testing by consumer rights organisations has uncovered weak security in many of these products, meaning hackers can access photos or audio, and even communicate directly with children.

Consumers International has highlighted some of these risks in our short videos ‘Huggybug Your Family Today’ and ‘Consumers Society TV - The Buggle Baby Monitor’.  

At the Consumers International Summit, we are bringing together leading thinkers and businesses to discuss what it’s like to grow up in the digital playground, and ask how we can support and empower children in the age of ubiquitous technology.

Register for the Consumers International Summit 2019, 30 April – 1 May 2019, to explore all these topics and more.