Some of tech’s most influential companies may be engaged in internecine digital warfare, but they shared an eerily common vision at the Consumer Electronics Show.
With lockstep precision, each company explained how it was uniquely positioned to stitch together an estimated 20 billion connected devices worldwide in a market expected to reach $470 billion in 2020, according to Bain & Co. estimates.
They conjured images of cityscapes and homes where the physical and digital worlds blend in a panorama of artificial intelligence, mixed reality, connected devices, and driverless cars—often with the command of a voice or click of a smartphone app. And don’t forget the occasional robot for menial tasks.
“If you want to look into the future, look at people,” says Shane Wall, chief technology officer at HP Inc.(ticker: HPQ), noting that connected devices will surge to 25 billion by 2020 and 70 billion by 2030. “We’ve reached hyperglobalization, where the world is completely wired.”
A day after Tim Baxter, CEO of Samsung Electronics North America, led a demonstration of the connected home through its virtual assistant Bixby, Sony Electronics President and Chief Operating Officer Mike Fasulo concisely summed up the vision at the company’s sprawling booth at the Las Vegas Convention Center. “How do we make people’s lives more enjoyable and simple?” he asks.
Samsung’s “multidevice experience strategy” included news of enhanced Bixby functionality on Samsung TVs and refrigerators, the world’s first MicroLED TV, and a connected car project with subsidiary Harman International Industries that features an “intelligent digital cockpit.”
At Sony’s (SNE) booth, Fasulo underscored the experience of a family enjoying a Sony film on one of Sony’s 4K HDR TVs while using a Google Home voice-activated speaker to dim the living room lights and set a mood.
“We’re at the very beginning of another transition in tech, just as we had with the internet,” says Greg Sullivan, director of communications for Windows and devices at Microsoft. “The separation of the physical and digital worlds is going away.”