CES 2019: The shift towards an AI driven services economy has begun

May 4, 2020

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Cathay Innovation attended CES in Las Vegas this year – we visited the exhibitions and held meetings with our ecosystem of corporates to discuss the evolution of various technologies. As usual, the event continued to be massive, with more than 4,500 exhibiting companies and 180,000 attendees.

Perhaps most noticeable was the steady and ongoing shift towards what we call an “AI driven” economy. Smart devices, or any kind of connected smart spots with computing power inside, continue to emerge with great fanfare. However, most striking this year was how voice command + AI + IoT have started to merge as one single concept and usage. As such, these devices are now merging into a broader global landscape with capabilities driven by AI and enabled by voice. Companies don’t want to sell consumers smart devices, but AI-based services using a whole set of devices (or point of contacts) connected to their relevant ecosystems. For instance, with the emergence of smart cities, a deep shift in the car, energy and mobility businesses is clearly starting.

Second, was the global representation of CES innovation at the startup level. For instance, China tech was standing out for its leadership in automotive and mobility, enabled by AI. See Denis’ interview with CGTN below. This year a new record was established for the FrenchTech, since 410 French companies were present at CES. The French startups even outnumbered the American startups. Our portfolio company Ledger, the leading producer of hardware wallets for cryptocurrencies and blockchain based cybersecurity, was named by Les Echos as the “real french star at CES” (read the full article here).

Some important themes which have emerged at this edition of CES that we wanted to emphasize can be summarized in a few categories: 5G and IoT, Blockchain, Automotive, Health and Wellness, Robotics and Machine Intelligence, Home Delivery, and Gaming. Voice was an element that pervaded many categories, as the number of voice-enabled devices keeps increasing and as the technology itself advanced rapidly. All these fields will certainly drive profound change to our society, and major companies, like Google, Amazon, Uber, are pushing forward these topics according to their agenda. As in the previous editions, sustainability was also a big concern, and GreenTech and EnergyTech are likely to be omnipresent in a few years.

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