The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) usually highlights important technology trends that could shape the future. This year, artificial intelligence (AI), the smart IoT sensors that fuel it, and increasingly powerful and seamless human machine interfaces (HMIs) topped the list for me.

On the AI front, almost every automotive company is working on driverless cars, powered by dramatic advances in computer vision and deep learning.  With regard to sensors, in the Honda booth we saw a tiny optical sensor that can fit in the rearview mirror and measure throat movement. This significantly improves the Honda Throat Motion Sensorclarity of speech in noisy environments.  In the Denso booth we saw a wide range of imaginative innovations from vacuum cleaner shoes to a robot barista; we also saw a novel contactless haptics system based on an array of ultrasound speakers. Combined with holographic projections and a leap motion hand sensor, this could create a revolutionary HMI where you not only see and interact with a software defined “virtual dashboard” but you can feel it as well!  In the ChangHong booth we saw a contactless EEG brain control device. Embedded in a headrest, this smart sensor picked up enough brain waves for a user to control the speed of a car in a video game!

While far from perfect, these smart sensors and HMIs, when combined with leading AI, could create some incredibly promising advances in the way we work, live, play, and learn.

Nowhere was this more prevalent at the show than in the automotive industry, where we saw smart new experiences in mobility as a service, with personalized driver and passenger journeys that surprise and delight.  In the Hyundai booth, for example, you could explore the future commute to the office – and even step inside the vehicle to choose your mood on arrival. The car monitors biometrics and facial expression, and controls temperature and lighting; it even emits scents like peppermint or sandalwood to help make sure you arrive highly energized or completely relaxed. No more stressful commute to ruin your day!  But this vehicle is only the beginning of the

Denso Contactless Holographic Haptic Controller

mobility experience – Hyundai also showcased a smart mobility chair that transports you seamlessly between the vehicle and the home – to which it docks. It controls music, video, lighting, appliances, security, and much more in a highly intelligent,

anticipatory fashion, based on rich context from ubiquitous networked sensors and actuators – all with voice control, of course!

These new experiences require continuing advances in the flexibility, robustness, and security of networks.  For example, while many auto manufacturers are working on very advanced self-driving capabilities, the “network” in most cars today is where it was 30+ years ago in the enterprise, with a variety of siloed protocols that are difficult to secure.  The Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), highly automated vehicles, and next generation mobility experiences we saw at CES will revamp in-vehicle networks.  To that end, Cisco is working with Hyundai to create an IP / Ethernet backbone for the vehicle that will streamline and simplify the vehicle and its connectivity to other vehicles, to the infrastructure, and to the cloud.

If CES 2017 foreshadows the future the way it has in previous years, we have a smart new world to look forward to!


Shaun Kirby

Director and Chief Technology Officer

Cisco Consulting Services