It’s December and that only means one thing – it’s time to get CES-ready. For the uninitiated, CES, or the Consumer Electronics Show to give it it’s full title, is the annual tech industry kick-off taking place in Las Vegas in early January ever year. Nearly 180,000 people descend on Las Vegas and take over the whole town to celebrate, criticize, negotiate, sell, learn and absorb all things tech. It is both the best and the worst of times – the best in all the innovation on show and the worst in the miles walked and crowds endured.

CES sets the agenda for the tech industry for the year. Want to see if self-driving cars are possible? Come to CES. Curious to see how the Internet of Things is really going to shake things up? CES. Desperate to see the latest iteration of foldable smartphone technology? You know where you need to go.

CES 2020 will be no different. We are certain to hear a lot round DARQ (distributed ledger technology, AI, extended reality and quantum computing) as all these elements have the potential to transform industries and behaviors. Blockchain will be big this year as companies continue to innovate beyond bitcoin and into real world, trusted applications as companies like Mastercard and IBM bring blockchain based solutions to the world.

Similarly, AI is going to continue to dominate conversations – perhaps literally given the tie up between voice control and AI in so many service-driven platforms. AI is steadily becoming ubiquitous, the red thread that underpins so many of our tech driven experiences. When you combine AI with voice recognition you come close to a human-to-human interaction, something that is certain to shake up the service economy.

One thing is certain – very few of the innovations shown at CES in 2020 will really take off without 5G. 5G is the difference between autonomous cars being a menace to society and a real-life solution. If we don’t have the kind of fast and reliable connectivity promised by 5G then even the most sophisticated AI is limited.

5G  networks have been available in the USA for over six months and it is one of the tech terms that garners high recognition. It seems as if the public is aware of the potential of 5G. Yet, understanding of what 5G means is low. A quarter of consumers in the US stated that 5G is an important feature when buying a new smartphone according to a recent study by UXS Group – but price made 5G far less appealing, and fully one fifth of consumers didn’t yet see a need for 5G. Maybe this is the year where consumer technology vendors convince us to spend that little bit extra on the 5G enabled device. Maybe this is the year where tech moves beyond the hype and shows us exactly how these incredible innovations will fit into our everyday lives and become as important and as commonplace as the washing machine and the streetlight. One thing is certain – we need technology that works today as much as we need the promise of tomorrow.