It’s the most magical time of the year…

I love this time of year. That sense of expectation in the air, the sense of anticipation about the people we’ll see and the parties we’ll enjoy, all those boxes just waiting to be investigated, the travel plans, the anxious planning of footwear and bulk buying of extra power packs. Yes folks, its just 38 sleeps till CES.

CES, or the Consumer Electronics Show to give it its full title, is the lodestar event of the technology world. It sets the agenda for the year, for the technologies that we will come to depend on over the next 12 months. First held in 1967, CES is now a giant event and in 2018 will account for a staggering 2.5 million net square feet of exhibition space. In 2017 over 165,000 people attended – 2018 is set to be even bigger.

As a life long technology-lover, it is perhaps understandable that I get overexcited at this time of year. However, even the most luddite among you should take time to understand what CES truly represents. For me, CES is the point in the year when we can truly take stock of how ubiquitous technology and innovation have become and to question how we adapt and adjust our behaviours in the face of what is now technologically possible.

CES 2018 is set to have a strong focus on three areas – home, car and the public realm. Just taking a look at the show guide demonstrates that there are few areas of human life where technology is not being applied, whether we look at the huge keynote events from automotive giants like Ford or the new CES Sports Zone, where game-day tech takes centre stage with gadgets to enhance athletic performance or innovations to put fans right in the centre of the action.

Health and wellness continue to be hot topics. Accessible technology, such as that developed by VFO, who make technology for the visually impaired, is changing lives, making the world more accessible and enjoyable for those with impairments. Digital health continues to make us ever more aware of our couch potato lifestyles and we can expect a whole new slew of trackers, diagnostic tools, health monitors and motivational tools to be launched at CES. My personal bête noire, insomnia, is being tackled by a whole range of solutions like SleepPhone’s headphones for sleeping and the brain sensing meditation headband from Muse. Maybe this year we’ll also see an app to prevent me getting the inevitable CES cold, too.

There has been a lot written about automation and self-driving technology, much of it scaremongering. I’m expecting a lot of new approaches to self-driving tech at CES, including a focus on technology that controls the transport environment. Smart cities bring together an entire connected ecosystem that can be deployed to make self driving truly safe. Combined with the application of visual processing and machine learning within the car and we have the potential for cars to be more than a means of getting from A to B, but to be a true personal technology hub, collating, analysing and sharing data for our benefit.

Finally, the home. Last year I was not alone in wanting to immediately replace every piece of kitchen and home equipment I owned with the LG Signature suite of connected products. A washing machine smart enough to adjust water temperature and save me the pain of the washed out red sock and the crimson streaked work shirt? Hell yes, bring it on.

Last year was the year of possibilities—this year I hope will be the year where CES shows us exactly how we will integrate technology into our lives and in doing so give us more time, peace of mind and fewer shrunken jumpers.

My final wish for CES 2018? Better WiFi in the venues and softer flooring. If they could nail that then CES truly would be the most technologically magical time of my year.

Sara is the Global Technology Practice Director at Hill+Knowlton Strategies.

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