I’d like to take an intermission from our posts on Clinical Communication & Collaboration and provide some trend-spotting on technology. I’ve been writing a technology blog separate from Mobile Heartbeat for some time ─ it’s actually a hobby of mine ─ and the inspiration for most of the articles stems from my visits to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January of each year. I just returned from my annual foray into this jungle of cutting-edge tech and thought I might share some observations. The event each year gets even larger, so I’ve really had to focus my efforts on what I find intriguing. So, in no order of importance…

Self-Driving Automobiles

To be fair, I thought that self-driving cars were more likely to be found on an episode of The Jetsons than in real life. This was my biggest “Aha” moment at CES. Not only is the technology that powers these vehicles advancing at light speed, but every technology company (really!) is rushing to get involved. Not only were all of the automobile manufacturers present with their latest self-driving offerings, but the ecosystem of supporting technology vendors (mapping, decision systems, etc.) was evident as well. If you’re a follower of the strategy guru, Michael E. Porter, you will recognize this remarkable “five forces analysis” now beginning to bear down on the automotive industry via this new technology. Namely:

  • Threat of substitute technology (rendering older vehicle technology obsolete).
  • Threat of New Entrants (as seen by the technology-driven start-ups in self-driving car technology displayed at CES).
  • Industry rivalry (this goes without saying for the automotive market).

Looking at these three forces and how they are impacting this  market means that we will see great upheaval – and big winners and losers – over the next few years.  I think that we will need a comprehensive scoreboard to keep track.

Personal Wellness

Frankly, I’ve grown bored looking at all of the “wearables” ranging from “smart clothing” to sports-specific fitness trackers. Honestly, do you really need a fitness tracker to monitor your curling performance? What did catch my eye, however, is the number of firms present at CES who were showing off new “sleep technology.” Apparently, we are a society that does not get near-enough rest, since the booths for these products were busy every day. I was skeptical but, being a technologist, I had to sign up for a trial of a few of them. I hooked up to some electrodes, put on headphones and then reclined with the pre-conceived notion that “this couldn’t really work.” The proposition was that, in 20 minutes, my mind would experience the equivalent of a two-hour nap. I’m the biggest skeptic when it comes to these types of claims and when, after twenty minutes, I emerged feeling like I do on  a Saturday watching golf on TV, I was impressed. I’m now attempting to get this vendor to send me a sample to “test.”

Televisions – Can they get any larger?

Finally, no write-up about CES would be complete without mentioning the latest and greatest in TV technology. CES is the show where every major television vendor goes over the top. Five years ago, it was all about 3-D technology. Unfortunately, the 3-D content for viewing was so scarce and poorly produced that the push for 3-D TV is now officially passé. I noticed zero vendors trumpeting their 3-D monitors. What I did observe, however, is OLED (organic light emitting diode) technology that was truly awesome. With its extremely high contrast and deep black levels, the OLED TVs were stunning. Since I watch a significant amount of televised sports (no comments, please), an 80” OLED screen for watching the Pats in the upcoming Super Bowl would look great in our family room.

I hope that you enjoyed a bit of technology trend-spotting from CES 2018. Now it’s time to get back to my day job at Mobile Heartbeat and get ready for HIMSS18, where, as a manufacturer of CC&C software, I’m on the other side of the trade show experience.