Artificial Intelligence Takes Center Stage at CES

by Parks Associates | Jan. 18, 2019

Artificial Intelligence’s (AI) growing importance to the consumer electronics industry was on full display at CES® 2019. Almost thirty AI companies were featured exhibitors at the event; however, products incorporating AI were on display in almost every category. From startups to leading companies like Google and Sony, vendors are deploying AI across the CE landscape.

 

AI-powered voice assistants maintained their momentum from last year’s event, with Google and Samsung making the product category a focal point of their exhibits.

 

·       Google announced a new set of tools called Google Assistant Connect that makes it easier for third parties to incorporate Google Assistant into their devices or customers to connect their smart home devices with their Google Assistants. The new platform strengthens the company’s position against market leader Amazon by providing a competing service to the Alexa Connect Kit.

·       Google also announced that Google Assistant would be on Google Maps for Android and iOS starting this month, greatly expanding the reach of the voice-enabled assistant. The Assistant in Maps will let users get directions via voice, share estimated arrival times with others, and play music and podcasts. Of more importance to Google, it provides the company with a direct connection to millions of Google Map users on iPhones who otherwise wouldn’t interact with the Assistant.

·       Samsung announced last year that it would include artificial intelligence capabilities in every device it manufactures by 2020, and this year, Samsung announced that its Bixby voice assistant would be incorporated throughout its product ecosystem as an open AI platform for products such as mobile devices, TVs, appliances, air conditioners, and smart home devices. Samsung is far behind market leaders Amazon and Google, so the company’s strategy is to leverage its strong presence among U.S. consumers (the company estimates that 70% of U.S. consumers have a Samsung product) to drive adoption of Bixby.   

Parks Associates estimates that at the end of 2018, voice-first smart speakers from Amazon, Google, Apple, and other manufacturers were in more than one in three (35%) U.S. broadband households and adoption will increase to almost one in two households by 2022.

 

Smart TV manufacturers highlighted the AI functionality built in to their 2019 offerings.  Chief among these was integration with voice assistants to meet the growing consumer interest in voice control for connected entertainment products. According to our research, 43% of U.S. broadband households consider voice control to be an important feature when selecting their next streaming media player or smart TV. But since voice is becoming a common feature in smart TVs, vendors need other features to differentiate their products. Other AI capabilities showcased at CES focused on enhancing picture and sound quality. Product introductions included:

 

·       Samsung introduced new versions in its 8K lineup with an AI algorithm that learns user preferences and simplifies content search and discovery. New sets will also work with the Bixby platform and the AI Remote as well as Amazon Echo and Google Home.

·       LG Electronics enhanced its LG ThinQ smart TV capabilities to include AI-optimized image and audio quality, applying deep learning techniques to analyze source content and determine the best way of presenting it. For example, the TV can adjust the brightness levels depending on lighting conditions and volume levels based on background noise. The new TVs will also support both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

·       Hicense introduced the H8F series Android TV with Google Assistant voice control and compatibility with Amazon Alexa. The company also introduced artificial intelligence chips, which can enhance the viewing experience by detecting the content being broadcast and adjust factors such as motion rates to optimize the content presentation. 

·       TCL introduced a series of AI-powered 8K TVs under its new TCL AI-IN branded AI platform, which incorporate Android TV, Roku TV, or Amazon Alexa technologies, depending on geography. 

Artificial intelligence wasn’t limited to personal assistants and TVs. Vendors in many different categories offered solutions ranging from language translators to autonomous driving:

 

·       Intel and Alibaba announced a partnership on developing an AI solution for 3D-tracking of athletes during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.  Combining deep learning algorithms with images from multiple cameras will enable creation of "3D mesh" digital models of the athletes. This will provide broadcasters with greater ability to instantly review content and better determine what to air.

·       NVIDIA announced that it will be building AI architecture for Mercedes-Benz cars.  The new NVIDIA Drive will centralize the cars’ computing functions, controlling areas such as windows, door locks, power steering, and braking to provide a greater autonomous driving experience.

·       Samsung demonstrated its Digital Cockpit 2019, which provides a personalized connected car experience. Using Bixby, drivers can perform actions such as checking fuel levels or setting interior temperature via voice control. Onboard cameras can recognize specific drivers and passengers and modify their personal space (seat position, display preferences) based on historical data.

Despite the plethora of offerings being highlighted as CES, artificial intelligence usage in the consumer electronics space is still in the early stages.  To drive real value, the industry needs to evolve from offering a myriad of devices that automate simple tasks to more integrated solutions that better simplify and improve consumers’ lives. There is a good deal of momentum in this direction, with companies including Amazon and Google developing ecosystems with significant AI capabilities. It will certainly be interesting to see what progress has been made by January 2020.



Next: Parks Associates releases 2019 Connected Home and Entertainment Trends Market Review
Previous: Brett Sappington’s Top 5 Things from CES – 2019 Edition

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