SparkOptimus News Highlights – 2017: The year of smart assistants and the relational economy?

smart_home_controlWritten by Emilie Blauwhoff

No better tech way to kick off the New Year than with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) happening this week in Las Vegas. The yearly event is characterized by an abundance of Internet of Things products: “Think of any product you can, and then make it smart”, that’s what you will find at this year’s CES. Especially ‘CES Unveiled’ is an exciting part of the event, where thousands of new gadgets and whacky products are presented, ranging from smart home, to smart fitness, to smart beauty, and more.

With all these smart devices emerging, it is no miracle that smart assistants are taking center stage as well, e.g., with the unveiling of LG’s Hub Robot. What is intriguing to see is that smart assistants are now becoming the linchpin of Internet of Things because they function as the operating systems of our homes. Very much like Microsoft dominated the PC world for decades, Amazon Alexa is starting to pop up in products of numerous different brands. LG, for example, has announced a fridge that is powered by Alexa, and Lenovo introduced their first smart speaker with Alexa built in – similar to Amazon Echo, with which Amazon originally launched Alexa.

Since incumbents succumb to newcomers’ operating systems, does this mean that 2017 is going to be the year where digital definitely turns the tide and brings us another step closer to a fully relational economy? 2016 already saw Netflix beating all traditional media providers by airing the most popular TV show of the year – Orange is the New Black. And while IBM’s Deep Blue has beat Grand Master Garry Kasparov at a game of chess in 1997, it was deemed impossible to beat a reigning champion in the board game Go, Google’s AI system AlphaGo did exactly that one year ago (it recently also won 60 games (while losing zero) of Go on Chinese online board-game platforms). And for whoever thinks digital only serves millennials, think twice: this smart cane is especially designed to support the elderly.

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