At the conclusion of day two of NACD and Grant Thornton’s board-focused experience of the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), my feet are throbbing, my head is spinning, and I have a clearer picture of what the future holds thanks to a much sought-after spot at Shelly Palmer’s breakfast lecture on innovation and future trends, which was followed by an exclusive, small-group tour of this colossal show—some 3,900 exhibitors in all.
According to Palmer, the next-generation automobiles displayed by Mitsubishi, Nissan, Ford, and so many other companies raises the following question: How will we move—or want to be moved—from point A to point B?
“What does it mean to get from here to there? Uber is already self-driving. I push a few buttons and the car shows up,” Palmer said as he took us through the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center—home to what has been dubbed the world’s largest auto show.
Among the flashier electric vehicles on display was the Mercedes-AMG Project ONE Showcar, an electric hybrid Formula 1 race car. While only 275 of these cars will be made, the technology applied in its engineering eventually could end up in your self-driving car.
Palmer also highlighted the following provocative insights to the directors in our tour group:
- Smart speakers are among the fastest-adopted technologies, having achieved 50-percent penetration in U.S. homes in just three years.
- Any device powered by electricity will be voice-controlled.
- While Amazon is not exhibiting at this year’s show, its presence was abundantly visible through some 30,000 examples of apps compatible with its Alexia device.
- Companies that may be considered old-line—Blackberry, Honeywell, ADP—have reinvented themselves through their understanding and embrace of technology that makes us more secure. “Security,” Palmer said, “is the gateway drug to home systems.”
- At Honda’s booth, spectators were charmed by an adorable three-foot robot. The Japanese automaker discovered after the devastating tsunami in 2011 that children responded to the robot, which is capable of expressing empathy. “Americans have no interest in this,” Palmer said, adding this nugget: “Robotics are way ahead of anthropology and sociology.”
- Chinese companies are the world’s leader in artificial intelligence. Google and Facebook lead in America. The presence of Chinese companies exhibiting at CES was a quantum leap over last year.
- Some 15 million American homes have cut the cable cord and instead have roof antennas for TV service. So how can Comcast expect to flourish? The broadband giant will provide its customers the ability to connect various Internet of Things technologies that can be controlled through its voice remote.
More insights from CES and directors’ impressions of the governance implications raised by some of what they experienced will be covered in the January/February 2018 issue of NACD Directorship magazine.