​I had time to reflect on my way to CES 2020 last month. My phone continued to work at cruising altitude and I toggled between emails, texts and the constant stream of content coming across different channels. I finally turned the damn thing off and used my time in the air to think about my plan for the show.

My goal was to focus on the vehicle technology exhibits, to meet up with old friends, network with new contacts, and absorb as much as possible about new trends and technologies. You know what they say about well-laid plans…

The North Hall of the Convention Center is located, of course, on the north end of the strip. Travel from point A to point B takes more time every year. Things will get only get more congested with the opening of the new NFL stadium and the 1.5 m square feet expansion of show space at the Convention Center. There’s no such thing as too big in Las Vegas! I digress…

This year, there were multiple companies showing urban helicopters for last-mile transportation. In addition to well-established Bell Helicopters, Hyundai (Hyundai S-A1 electric Urban Air Mobility concept) is moving into this evolving space. Many of the automotive brands and suppliers highlighted autonomous vehicles geared towards comfort, entertainment, and human interaction and communication. These two trends will continue to point out where we are able to leverage new modes of transportation. This new day, in my opinion, awaits us in 2025 and forward. 

The biggest challenge to the real-world application of autonomous vehicles and air transport is the lack of infrastructure and practical safety guidelines. As described in my post from CES 2019, collaboration on a vast scale with government, large corporations, and innovative thinkers and startups will be required to begin to solve the significant challenges of infrastructure. I am encouraged by the risk-taking and scaled investment on display at CES every year. We are on the right path with lots more work to do.

I was very encouraged by the number of EV concepts on display. Henrik Fisker never gives up and he was at the show with his Ocean concept and taking orders for a nominal downstroke of $250. I’m not sure how the path to production will play out for Fisker. The car business is unforgiving, hyper-competitive, and capital intensive. 

Rivian’s RT1 was displayed in the Amazon exhibit along with numerous products designed to work with integrated Alexa, smart home, and communications platforms. There was even a motorcycle helmet with Alexa inside! I just want to get on my motorbike and ride!

Sony, yes that Sony, introduced their own EV concept car. My initial thinking is they invested in the concept to draw attention to the audio and video offering. It worked in spades since the concept was a highlight of the show. I was surprised, maybe shocked, to learn that Sony intends to enter into the EV space fully loaded with technology. The point of Sony’s concept is to show what it can do inside and outside a car, so there are 33 sensors, including radar, lidar, and cameras. The car also integrates Sony’s immersive 360-degree audio technology, 360 Reality Audio, which features speakers in each seat. Sony also built the capability for continual over-the-air updates into the car.

“This prototype embodies our contribution to the future of mobility and contains a variety of Sony’s technologies,” Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida said at the unveiling.

Wow, who would have envisioned this future?

Mid-afternoon through day one at the show, the thought occurred to me that all this technology is being developed to make our lives easier, to save us time, and to improve our quality of life. This is not a new thought, of course, and the key is to be able to turn off our gear, think, talk with another human or just read a book — preferably a bound, printed book. The more gear we bring into our lives, the tougher it is to turn the stuff off and think. It’s a big-time dilemma!

We were fortunate last year to embark on and complete a kitchen renovation in our home. We’ve lived in the same bungalow for the last few decades and the renovation was long overdue. Early in the project design phase, I was asked by the general contractor if we wanted to integrate smart home technologies into the kitchen. I reflected on this big question and my recent visits to CES and responded with a measured “it depends on how we define smart home”. 

As we developed the design, we decided to apply LED lighting with dimmers and a NEST thermostat. We decided to hold off on the Ring doorbell and any other app-based functions. We can always add technology in the future. For now, we are happy with manual light switches and a fridge that simply preserves our food and makes ice with no problems.

Last week, I decided to commit to a digital fast for either two half-day blocks or a full day every week. This simple and rebellious act has already resulted in more time to think, reflect and work on things that really matter. We’ve become so reliant and expectant of the immediate response to every text, call and email that we’ve lost sight of the importance of meeting people face to face. Technology should be leveraged to help us live better lives and engage more fully with each other, as humans.

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