The Big Tech Trends to Follow at CES 2018

Here are some highlights you can expect from next week’s show.

Alexa and Her Counterparts

Alexa, Amazon’s intelligent assistant that listens to your voice commands to play music, order diapers and place a phone call, will be everywhere at CES.

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Amazon said last month that it sold tens of millions of Echo devices, which feature the Alexa assistant, over the holiday season. The technology will be everywhere at CES.

Credit
Christie Hemm Klok for The New York Times

Smaller tech companies have teamed up with Amazon to bring voice-controlled smarts to their products. Devices like light bulbs, car stereo accessories, robovacuums, home security systems and even coffee makers will work with Alexa. In addition, thousands of companies have developed “Skills,” or third-party apps, that work with Alexa voice commands. Sonos, a premium audio brand, recently released a speaker with Alexa functionality built in.

What’s fueling interest in Alexa? Amazon’s success with Echo, the smart speakers enabled with the personal assistant. Amazon said last month that it sold tens of millions of Echo devices over the holiday season. Strategy Analytics, a research firm, estimates that 68 percent of voice-controlled speakers sold last year worked with Alexa.

Other tech giants want a piece of the pie, too. In 2016, Google introduced Home, an artificially intelligent speaker to rival the Echo. The search giant will have a large presence at CES, where the company is also expected to highlight accessories that work with its Home speaker and Google Assistant.

Apple this year will release HomePod, a speaker that relies on Siri, the Apple assistant, to control some smart home accessories. And Samsung Electronics, the South Korean manufacturer, is expected to unveil a major upgrade for Bixby, its virtual assistant, later this year.

“If I had to make a bet, it’s the year of A.I. and conversational interfaces,” said J. P. Gownder, an analyst for Forrester Research.

Smart Cities

Nowadays, it’s easy to shop for high-quality internet-connected home accessories, like light bulbs, thermostats and security cameras. At CES, Samsung is even planning to introduce a smart refrigerator at the electronics show that can listen to voice commands to control other home accessories.

Now tech companies are looking to push internet connectivity beyond products in your home.

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