Over the past few years the CES trade show has become a familiar post-holidays pilgrimage for many of the country's biggest marketers. They see the event as a way to get a sneak peek at the latest tech gadgets and technologies that can help them engage with their customers. This year marketing executives from companies such as Coca-Cola, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Campbell Soup and PepsiCo Inc. made their way to Las Vegas for the gathering. The convention was jam-packed with everything from self-driving cars to robots that play chess to Procter & Gamble's air-freshener spray that can connect with Alphabet Inc.'s Nest home to automatically release pleasant scents in the home. But there was one category that seemed to especially win over marketers: virtual assistants.
This week about 180,000 visitors flocked to the world's biggest technology exhibition, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. And while all the usual gadgets made an appearance, from smart fridges to self-driving cars, there was one dominant theme: speech. With nearly half of people in the US using voice-activated digital assistants in their smartphones or tablets, and the ownership of standalone digital assistants, like Google Home and Amazon Echo, expected to double in 2018, every tech company now wants a slice of the pie. Alexa, Amazon's voice assistant, is now available in everything from microwaves to cars, and from TVs to mirrors. Google had more than 350 voice-controlled devices at the show, including speakers, cars, and a giant toy town complete with a railway.
Researchers have revealed how Microsoft's Cortana could be used to bypass the security protection of Windows 10. Speaking at Black Hat in Las Vegas this week, security researchers Amichai Shulman and Tal Be'ery from Kzen Networks, alongside the Israel Institute of Technology's Ron Marcovich and Yuval Ron, said a vulnerability existed in the voice assistant which allowed the bypass of the Windows 10 lock screen. As reported by Threat Post, the vulnerability, dubbed "Open Sesame," opens the door, bypassing the lock screen, and allows threat actors to locally perform "dangerous functions." The bug, CVE-2018-8140, lay within Cortana's default settings. As the Windows 10 lock screen disables the keyboard, users are able to utilize their voice to issue a limited range of vocal commands.
CES 2019 will be my 16th consecutive jaunt to Las Vegas to see the latest and greatest that the consumer electronics industry has to offer. So I'm extremely confident in predicting that we'll see plenty of the following: Those, of course, are the table stakes -- the same trends that have been on display for the past three, five or even 10 years of the world's biggest electronics show. To that end, these are the biggest questions we have going into the show -- the answers to which will set the tone for the rest of 2019. Qualcomm showed off a 5G phone prototype in Hawaii last month. There is little doubt that 5G -- the next-generation wireless standard that promises hyperfast speeds with almost no latency -- is the key game-changing technology for 2019.
Some come to CES for the self-driving cars and smart sprinkler systems; media companies and advertisers are in Las Vegas to talk voice and artificial intelligence. And pour some cold water on virtual reality. Thanks to products like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, it's impossible to escape the growing hype behind voice technology and artificial intelligence from both publishers and advertisers alike. Turner Sports, for instance, has launched Catch Sports, a "digital personal assistant" available on smartphones and the Amazon Echo that tells you where you can watch or listen to a game as well as the latest scores. Publicis Groupe, meanwhile, went even further by having a robot give a full powerpoint presentation -- a "proof of concept" to demonstrate how voice and AI will impact everything from medicine to day-to-day tasks at ad agencies.