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CES Adds Momentum to Consumer AI Push

If next week’s Consumer Electronics Show is any indication, artificial intelligence is moving from the world of engineering and technology to the province of consumers, commerce and the connected economy.

“We didn’t get the full CES fire hose of AI announcements last year like we’re going to have,” says Anshel Sag, a principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. “If you thought it was a wave last year, it’s going to be a tsunami this year.”

The show runs Tuesday (Jan. 9) through Friday (Jan. 12) in Las Vegas.

Keynotes planned by Qualcomm and Intel and announcements already made by traditional consumer electronics companies underscore this trend. Promising “AI all day,” the show’s organizers are putting the technology in a similar position as 5G and the Metaverse in previous years. However, the spin on AI is decidedly more practical. In fact, recent research done by CES shows consumers have already started to incorporate it into their daily lives. Expect that theme to be sounded early and often next week as 75% of all consumers say they’re comfortable with AI-generated shopping choices, and 83% say they’re using AI-generated entertainment choices.

“Shopping discovery is changing,” the report reads, “and brands should dedicate more resources and data science toward ensuring their products are surfaced via recommendation engines. Given the speed at which consumers shift their habits from year to year, the opportunities for marketers to reach consumers are only getting more powerful — and complex. Keeping ahead of these trends is a job unto itself for marketers. Ruthless prioritization of the insights on consumer behavior shifts that matter most will set marketers up for success in navigating the “all on” technological shift expected in the year ahead.”

That shift is expected to be addressed by Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon in his keynote address. The company’s Snapdragon chip set, currently in use on Android phones, has been in the forefront of AI mobile applications including immersive augmented reality, mobile shopping applications and advanced camera features. The company added to the features for Snapdragon at its recent Snapdragon Summit and is expected to add more in Las Vegas.

“We’re entering the age of generative AI, and on-device generative AI has the potential to profoundly impact how we interact with our devices,” said Amon. “Running AI pervasively and continually on the device will transform our user experience, making it more natural, intuitive, relevant and personal, with increased immediacy, privacy and security. I’m excited to share more about how our devices will be seamlessly integrated into our lives at CES.”

Intel CEO Pat Selinger has also promised a focus on AI in his keynote. He is expected to address “the interconnectivity between technology and humanity” enabled by AI in retail, in the auto and in business. Intel has been using the tagline “unlock better business outcomes” during the past year, with most of its published use collection focused on healthcare, life sciences and retail. An example of one of its deployments can be found in Texas-based grocery chain Town Talk Foods, which purchases groceries and restaurant supplies that would otherwise not be salable under strict industry regulations—enabling them to offer extreme discount prices to customers. Intel’s AI-based video analytics platform produced six months’ worth of actionable insights for the chain on shopper demographics, hours of operation, inventory outages, customer journey maps, and footfall projections that enabled the retailer to optimize its marketing, operations, and merchandising.

On the more traditional side of the show, LG, Samsung are leading the way with a slew of consumer applications for AI in the home. LG is bound to steal a lot of attention with its AI-driven smart home agent, which the company says is part of its “Zero Labor Home” vision. With what looks like a Disney-designed mini-robot, the “agent” will verbally interact with users, combining voice and image recognition along with natural language processing to understand context and intentions as well as actively communicate with users. LG also claims the agent can autonomously patrol the home if it’s empty, move from one room to another, and send notifications to the user’s smartphone if it finds an open window or any lights left on. Additionally, it can help conserve energy by connecting with a smart outlet and turning off unused devices throughout the house.

Samsung, which introduced “smart” internet of things kitchen and home appliances as early as 2016, will add AI to the mix in 2024 by focusing on the kitchen. Its new Flex refrigerator, for example, has an AI Family Hub that uses a smart internal camera that can recognize items being placed in and out of the refrigerator. It’s also equipped with “Vision AI” technology, which can identify up to 33 different fresh food items based on a predefined set of training data comprising approximately one million food photographs. With the food list that is available and editable on the Family Hub screen, users can also manually add expiration date information and the refrigerator sends out alerts through its 32” LCD screen for items before reaching that date.

Other companies, including NVIDIA and Sony, have teased big announcements at CES. NVIDIA has indicated it will be deeply involved in the event’s entertainment industry tracks and will have a press conference on Monday. Sony is expected to present new automotive innovations with Honda and is also expected to double down on its developers program initially launched in August 2023.