As we head into 2017, artificial intelligence (AI) is an emerging technology trend that is generating increasing buzz among business leaders of both start-ups and well-established companies. From virtual assistants to image recognition to self-driving cars, we're only just beginning to scratch the surface of how AI-related technology will impact our daily lives and transform how businesses operate. IBM's Chief Innovation Officer Bernie Meyerson optimistically predicts 2017 will be "the year of the solution as opposed to the year of the experiment." The worlds of artificial intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT) are poised to collide. This year's CES conference in Las Vegas was packed with all kinds of smart devices touting new AI capabilities.
First it was personal computers, then smartphones. Now the year's largest tech expo showed us what the next growth driver is: connected cars. At CES last week, tech giants like Microsoft, Intel and Nvidia showed off their latest plans for the fast-growing connected car market. Worldwide sales of connected car products is expected to increase almost fourfold between 2015 and 2020, according to a report by PwC's Strategy&, adding more than $149 billion in revenues in the passenger car segment alone. Some of the biggest bets have been by Samsung and Qualcomm.
In his final Twitter post as President Obama's deputy Chief Technology Officer, Ed Felten dryly notes one of his accomplishments: "Robot apocalypses: 0." Robots and automation have received lots of attention over the past year, with much of the interest ranging from alarmist to curious. Elon Musk has said that robots will take your job. And, at the recently concluded 50th annual Consumer Electronics Show, companies rolled out robots to monitor your child and brew your coffee and tea. Robots are everywhere, except, as it turns out, in the data. To be clear, I don't mean there's no data about robots.
Startup Intuition Robotics emerged from stealth today, announcing a social robot aimed at keeping older adults active and engaged. The design and actions of the artificial intelligence-based device, ElliQ, make it look and feel less like a traditional robot and more as a friendly and approachable digital companion. It is unveiled this week as part of the exhibition New Old: Designing for our Future Selves at The Design Museum in London and was developed in collaboration with famed industrial designer Yves Béhar and his studio, fuseproject. The world's advanced economies are facing today the challenge of responding to the needs of a rapidly aging population (about 15% of people in the United States and 26% in Japan are older than 65). Loneliness and social isolation are serious issues that sometimes accelerate specific health conditions and worsen the physical disabilities of older adults.
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer. Over the holiday, I spent a great afternoon at the Boston Museum of Science, which is currently running an exhibition called "Da Vinci – The Genius." The exhibition brings to life the genius of Leonardo da Vinci as an inventor, scientist, engineer, architect, sculptor, and artist.
We're two days out from the tech-filled extravaganza that is the Las Vegas Consumer Electronic Show, an epic display of wealth, gadgetry and bling to an audience of 150,000 people. Drones have their own wing of the event now, and a number of companies were displaying drones aimed directly at consumers. Leaving aside the growing business market for these models, I've taken a look at some of the most interesting options in the consumer space. Some can be classified as toys, some as aerial selfie sticks, but if this market gets traction, it will greatly increase the public support for business usages, so it's a carrot-stick-carrot approach. Drones are big business, predicted to be worth billions in the next decade.
Waymo CEO John Krafcik speaks at a press conference at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Jan. 8, 2017. Waymo, the company born from Alphabet's Google Self-Driving Car research project, is designing and building all the sensors, radar and computers used in its automated test vehicles, along with the artificial intelligence programs that control everything. Yet to make its technology affordable for commercial use, it anticipates a manufacturing alliance as it looks ahead to mass-scale production of components, according to Chief Executive Officer John Krafcik. Waymo this week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit revealed that the latest generation of its hardware and software is being used on Chrysler Pacifica minivans that begin road tests this month. A total of 100 of the vans are getting radar, sensors, cameras and laser Lidar units for 360-degree, high-definition images of a vehicle's surrounding, all made by Waymo.
World-renowned global futurist Dr. James Canton envisions hotel experiences that include supersonic travel and DNA-driven spa treatments, so what can we expect in the next decade? Canton, a former Apple Computer executive, author and social scientist, worked in conjunction with Hotels.com, to present the Hotels of the Future Study at a recent conference in San Francisco. In the study he describes hotels with everything from RoboButlers and virtual reality entertainment to hotel restaurants based on gourmet genomics and the emergence of neurotechnology to make sleep more refreshing. Canton, who has advised three White House Administrations and over 100 companies, believes these megatrends will shape the future of the hotel experience and that the RoboButler is the change we will most likely see first. Although, he also notes that plans are already underway for a supersonic hyperloop route from Los Angeles to New York City.
The machines haven't taken over. However, they are seeping their way into our lives, affecting how we live, work and entertain ourselves. From voice-powered personal assistants like Siri and Alexa, to more underlying and fundamental technologies such as behavioral algorithms, suggestive searches and autonomously-powered self-driving vehicles boasting powerful predictive capabilities, there are several examples and applications of artificial intellgience in use today. However, the technology is still in its infancy. What many companies are calling A.I. today, aren't necessarily so.
Welcome to the new age of robotics, just like Rocky 4. (Photo credit: Joe Jones) While most of us in the tech industry were tweeting and fawning over the latest innovations in virtual reality, augmented reality, self-driving cars and mobile phones revealed at CES 2017, there was much more going on in the crowded convention center. In the dark corners, the back aisles and next to the bathrooms, there was tech just aching to be uncovered and praised. CES is a place for discovery and while we could focus on the big ticket items like everyone else, there is much more fun to be had outside the main aisle. With the help of my intrepid on-the-ground reporter Joe Jones, these are a few of the things you might have missed at CES 2017 this year. They aren't big screen paper thin televisions, they aren't drones but they are certainly on the cutting edge of tech.