Earlier this month, CTA (Consumer Technology Association) put on the 53rd CES show in Las Vegas. More than 170,000 attendees gathered from 160 countries to see the latest and greatest products and technologies in the consumer electronics industry. The show’s product categories ranged from AI (artificial intelligence), education, mobile payments, smart homes and cites, virtual and augmented reality and everything in between.
Every year at CES, the CTA puts together a “Five Technology Trends to Watch” and picks five topics to explore how these areas could impact the future. This year’s edition’s topics included Technology Tackling Therapy in the Digital Health Space, What’s Coming Next for Transportation, The Future of Food, How Facial Recognition is Impacting the World and Robots that Will Continue to Improve Lives.
Each of these topics in their unique way could be of significance to CRE owners. Here’s a look at what the CTA discovered about these technology trends and why CRE owners should know about them.
Technology tackling therapy
The number of people using wearable devices for health and wellness tracking is growing significantly. According to Datwyler Sealing Solutions CEO Torsten Maschke, more than 300 million people used a wearable device for health and wellness purposes in 2019. Consumers are embracing wearables because they offer insight into the user’s health fitness and wellness. Additionally, consumers are becoming more aware of health technology like personal health connected devices implantable medical devices and online telemedicine appointments with physicians, according to CTA’s recent report, “Connected Health and Remote Patient Monitoring: Consumer and Industry Use.”
Technology is also helping address mental health, according to the CTA. Patients can get treatment from their home or anywhere else they choose rather than going to a therapist’s office with a virtual appointment.
Next up for transportation—flying cars?
Vertical Takeoff and Landing Aircrafts (VTOLs) are evolving fast because they’re using a lot of the same tech that was developed for self-driving vehicles and electric cars like sensors, computing hardware and software, batteries and V2X (vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure) connectivity, according to CTA. There’s a possibility that the first flying taxis could be available in four years through Uber Air.
The success of flying vehicles will come down a couple of factors, however. Battery technology is one example, as it will need to be determined how much power can be delivered to a VTOL given how much weight it is carrying. Connectivity is another factor. The Bell Nexus prototype displayed at CES 2019 wants to offer a connected in-flight experience, both in terms of on-board wireless access for passengers and V2X technology for full autonomy in the future. The aircraft will have a pilot initially however.
The future of food
According to CTA, more than 500 million small-scale farmers operate around the world and grow almost 75 percent of the world’s food. These farmers are now using digital networks to connect with each other and those in the supply chain. One example is WeFarm, which lets farmers connect in whatever language they speak to discuss agricultural issues like preventing crop disease or sourcing affordable equipment. Meanwhile, the World Food Program created the smartphone app, Share the Meal, which lets people share a meal with someone in a key hunger area.
Vodafone has taken part in Project Health Children, an organization that scales tech and business solutions to help feed people in the most food insecure parts of the world. The company has used its cellular-enabled tech to monitor flour mills in real time, allowing food to be produced quicker for those who need it most.
Facial recognition could transform the world
As AI has improved, so have computers’ ability to analyze images and faces. Today, facial recognition software is being used for security uses like building entry and unlocking mobile phones, identifying criminals and medical applications like helping Alzheimer patients identify their families.
Facial recognition is also becoming more present in retail settings, according to CTA. Companies are using the software for marketing and customer analysis purposes. Retail stores facial recognition software use varies—it could be used to stop shoplifters or measure a customer’s emotional reaction to a product or ad. Facial recognition can also be used for targeted assistance in stores to more easily integrate loyalty programs. Wal-Mart and Lowe’s have already started to use the tech, according to CTA.
Robots reporting for duty
Robots are not new to us, but their expanding abilities are. For example, BUDDY the Emotional Robot lets users make video calls though his “face”, can navigate a home and interact with users with human detection. Robots are also becoming more present in schools whether it’s as a teaching assistant or enabling remote class participation for students who can’t make it to school.
Retail stores are another potential landing spot for robots. SoftBank’s humanoid robot Pepper serves as a greeter at more than 100 Softbank Mobile locations in Japan, according to CTA. The robot has a 10-inch display that provides information for customers. Pepper has also been a hospital receptionist and participated in an elderly care study.
What these tech trends mean for CRE
These technology trends vary greatly, but they do have a common theme—they’ll require strong wireless connectivity. It’s not out of the question that a CRE owner will come across a potential tenant who will plan to deploy any of these technologies—whether it’s a psychologist or psychiatrist who sees patients remotely and needs a good connection for video appointments, a retail store that uses facial recognition software to prevent shoplifting or a learning center with has a robot educational tool, the first question they’ll ask is how strong is the building’s wireless connection. Make sure you’re ready to give them answer they want to hear.