Jan 04, 2020

A focus on privacy, cord-cutting, and phones that predict the future will drive tech evolution in 2020 and beyond.

CES is where the future is uncovered. Every year, thousands of people from the tech and media industries crowd Las Vegas just days after the ball drops in New York City to discuss which technological advances will happen in the upcoming year, the next five years, and beyond.

Lindsey Turrentine, CBS Interactive SVP of content strategy for tech brands,  including CNET, has covered CES for more than 10 years. When she first stepped foot on the conference floor,  the show primarily focused on hardware, such as the latest televisions. The CNET booth during Turrentine’s first year at CES was tiny—no more than 15 feet by 15 feet. Now, the conference is about a variety of up-and-coming tech, like 5G or the use of technology in the health and wellness space, and CNET has a broadcast stage that attendees can see from across the Sands Convention Center.

“I would say this show, in many ways, is the show where the entire industry comes together to talk about the future and that is really exciting,” Turrentine says. “Leaders in tech, marketing, media, advertising—nearly every industry—come to CES ready to get started on the year ahead, reimagining how technology will change our world.”

Turrentine and CNET editor-at-large Brian Cooley will be on this year’s “Next Big Thing'' panel, on Tuesday, Jan. 7. Turrentine explains that their main focus this year is “anticipatory tech,” which will guess your next move before you make it.

Here’s a look at Turrentine’s predictions for trends and breakout technologies at this year’s conference:

Nicole Bitette: How would you describe CES to someone who has never attended?

Lindsey Turrentine: It is the largest consumer electronics show in North America. It is gigantic. It is an industry show, it is not open to the public, which means that everybody at the show is somehow involved in the consumer electronics industry.

Though the net for that attendee pool has been getting larger and larger every year, about 20% of the people who come to the show are buyers. They are there to find out what is coming to the market in the coming year and what they should get excited about and what they should actually purchase for their companies or for the stores and retailers they represent. That leaves 80% of the attendees there to talk about the future of consumer technology. Increasingly, it is a show where big conversations happen about what is coming and they happen between marketers and people in media, and people who actually create the technology themselves.

"There is no industry that is not touched by technology in terms of what they offer or how they offer it. "

Lindsey Turrentine

SVP of content strategy for tech brands at CBS Interactive

NB: Why is the attendee pool growing? Why has it shifted from tech only to more people in media attending?

LT: It is everyone because technology is everywhere. There is no industry that is not touched by technology in terms of what they offer or how they offer it. Understanding what is coming in technology is essential for anybody who is planning a business and especially a big business and it is particularly important for media, because media companies and people talking about media—ad buyers and sellers—really need to understand the potential reach for their products and services and where they could meet new audiences. They get excited to learn about new places to interact with audiences.

NB: Is there something that during your years covering CES that everyone thought was going to be huge, but never ended up catching on?

LT: I can think of technologies that took longer than we thought they would take to develop. We actually had a very good idea of what the 5G landscape would look like a few years ago and this will probably be the third year 5G has been a huge conversation topic at CES, and we are still not in a place where most consumers have any experience with 5G. Sometimes we as an industry are really eager to talk about what is next and then we have to patiently wait for the technology to get fleshed out and distributed.


NB: What are some of the trends and technologies you expect to be discussed this year?

LT: We have mapped this out at CNET. CES has historically been focused on hardware, over the past few years it has evolved and is adding more layers to the technology conversation. This year we expect a lot of conversation about services; consumer services, B2B services, media services, you name it. Privacy and security are going to be big topics. Apple is sending people officially to CES this year to talk on panels about privacy and security. Apple hasn’t officially sent attendees for a long time, so their attendance signals the importance of the privacy and security conversation.

We’re also going to talk a lot about what we at CNET are calling ambient computing, which is the extension of voice input to gestures and other ways of interacting with technology inputs. Think brain waves and facial recognition.

Health and wellness is a big topic for CNET in 2020 and it is also going to be a big topic for CES in general. We are seeing more exhibitors come in that space, and media-specific topics including streaming and cord-cutting have been big topics for the past few years and will continue to be this year.

NB: What will you and Cooley be covering on “The Next Big Thing” panel?

LT:  We are talking about moving into an anticipatory tech world. Next Big Thing is always about what we see coming in the mid-term future. We try to look about five years out.

In this case, we are talking about AI and computing that will anticipate what we need as consumers without us having to direct it. You have probably had a version of this experience where you get in your car to go somewhere you have gone at the same time multiple times before. Instead of having to enter, “how long to work,” you will actually just get your Google Maps and Apple Maps popping up and saying, “your commute is going to be 45 minutes to work.” Your software is anticipating what you are going to need to do based on your prior activity. We are talking about more sophisticated versions of this kind of technology and how it will evolve to take care of our needs even before we ask for it to, and the privacy and security concerns that go with those changes.

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