AI Talk: Consumer Electronics Show, future of autos and cashless society

Jan. 10, 2020 / By V. “Juggy” Jagannathan, PhD

This week’s AI Talk..


The big news of this week is of course the Consumer Electronic Show (CES), with over 175,000 attendees and 4,500 companies exhibiting—it must be a veritable zoo! The amount of press the show generates is truly unbelievable. So, what are the big stories here with respect to health care? This USA Today article provides a glimpse.  Smart clothes (including your underwear) that monitor your vitals, a Star Trek-like Tricorder called MedWand that can do ten diagnostic scans, from listening to your chest like a stethoscope to measuring your temperature and blood oxygen levels, to examining your tonsils—it has the possibility to galvanize telehealth. Sleep tech is big, monitoring your sleep in every conceivable way. Monitoring babies is big business and heart monitoring is continuing to improve. Wearables and more: a smart helmet that gives you directions, a headband to make you sleep better, scales that measure not only your weight but your balance, a bracelet to measure your mood, a smart mirror, to which you can probably say…”mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all” (well, not really). It analyses your skin and provides personalized recommendations. What will they think off next?

Future of Autos

CBinsights has published a really nice summary of what we can expect in terms of tech advances related to automobiles. Self-driving cars will take some time to work their way into the mainstream, but in the interim there is plenty of tech that can help with driving convenience, safety and entertainment. On the convenience side, one can expect biometric authentication, in-car voice assistants, automated-parking and augmented-reality (AR)-based display superimposed on your windscreen to provide directions. On the safety side, we will start seeing monitoring of driver behavior for fatigue and distraction and monitoring of vitals and heart rate with sensors on steering wheels. On the entertainment side, instead of showing a small screen of video in the backseat to keep your kids quiet, you can start fitting them with VR headsets for full-on entertainment! Perhaps the chorus from the backseat will turn from “Are we there yet?” to “Hope we are not there yet!”

Elegy for cash

Last week, MIT Technology Review had an article charting the dying role of cash in our society. To be sure, cash is not going to disappear anytime soon. However, electronic payment systems are putting a serious dent in the use of cash, and countries like Sweden, Denmark and China are racing towards a cashless society. True features of cash like anonymity, no middleman, and ease-of-use are yet to be replicated in the electronic form. A big drawback with bank-issued cards is that there is no anonymity—your every transaction is monitored and neatly cataloged. Bitcoin is a leading contender to provide electronic transaction anonymity, but is still pretty hard to use and transactions can take a while to complete. A number of governments are implementing their own version of blockchain-based currency, but it is unclear whether they will provide similar personal protection. Facebook Libra and currencies from private corporations likely put monetizing data over privacy protection. In short, this article concludes that your financial privacy in the future might be a thing of the past!

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V. “Juggy” Jagannathan, PhD, is Director of Research for 3M M*Modal and is an AI Evangelist with four decades of experience in AI and Computer Science research.