AI Virtual Assistants Take Center Stage in Las Vegas

The Consumer Electronics Show often showcases some of the top new technology of the year. Consumer Technology Association CEO Gary Shapiro said, “A.I. will pervade the show.”

The New York Times writer Brian X. Chen says you can expect more of what you already have:

“The future will be on display next week at CES, a consumer electronics trade show in Las Vegas that serves as a window into the year’s hottest tech trends. Artificially intelligent virtual assistants will take center stage as the most important tech topic, with companies big and small expected to showcase voice-controlled devices like robot vacuums, alarm clocks, refrigerators and car accessories. Most of these products will be powered by Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Assistant, the two most popular artificially intelligent assistants, industry insiders said.”

So it appears you will be talking more to your devices in 2019, while moving less to operate them. Hmmmmmm, might mean more security issues. Fortunately, since it’s clear that WiFi routers are security doors into everyone’s smart-life, companies at CES are offering fixes. Consider Eero Plus, a subscription service that Eero, a maker of Wi-Fi equipment, released last year. Eero Plus includes protection against viruses and malware for all the devices connected to its Wi-Fi network. Last year, NetGear released NetGear Armor, a similar security service.

Here are some of the exciting products attendees can expect to see between visiting the casinos.

It’s hard to believe three years ago Amazon gave us Echo, featuring Alexa the virtual assistant. This year consumers will be able to give Alexa many more orders within a smart home, also within a smart city that consumers can traverse in smart cars. Amazon likes to call this year’s roll-out, Alexa Everywhere.

Amazon has introduced a microwave that can be operated through Alexa.

5G Will Arrive in a Big Little Way

This year, the wireless industry will begin to improve mobile phone service with 5G. Phone carriers like AT&T and Verizon Wireless say the 5G technology will deliver data at incredibly fast speeds, allowing people to download entire movies in a few seconds. Phones and data will be faster, but only in selected U.S. cities and a few foreign countries.

VR, Self Driving Autos Still Not Mainstream

They are already here, but what they are not, is foolproof and popular.  Over the last two years, tech companies like Facebook’s Oculus, HTC, Google and Samsung have flooded the market with virtual reality headsets and plenty of software and games. Yet consumers haven’t exactly embraced most VR products on X-Box and other gaming systems. This year’s offerings might gain more interest.

Self-driving cars are also still many years from becoming a pervasive mode of transport. While some companies have permits to test autonomous cars in California, Arizona and elsewhere, several technology leaders  — such as Alphabet’s Waymo — have refrained from committing to a release date for self-driving vehicles.

Same Products, Different Features

So in the previews for CES 2019, it appears the same products are on display as last year, but with new bells and whistles. Drones are being demonstrated.  Even improved underwater drones will be on display. Visitors will find lots of appliances that will talk back, as well as autonomous vehicles by Mercedes Benz.

Read the overview of CES at