November 18, 2017
    5 transformative consumer tech trends assns should watch out for

    How do these trends affect your association?

    By Gary Shapiro | 04/27/2017

    Each January at CES® – The Global Stage for Innovation – my organization, the Consumer Technology AssociationTM, hosts tens of thousands of technology professionals from across the globe to grow their businesses and see how technology is making the world more connected, convenient and caring. Here are five of the most transformative consumer tech trends you should be on the lookout for over the next five years:

    1. Self-driving cars are transforming transportation networks. CES 2017 was the world’s showcase for the latest in self-driving technology. The technology is amazing on its own – but the implications for our quality of life are even more amazing. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 94 percent of crashes are caused by human error, and over 35,000 people died in 2015 from accidents. Self-driving cars could eliminate the human error factor, making our roads safer for everyone. They can also give older adults and people with disabilities much greater access and undreamed of independence. With the right federal framework, the transition to this new technology will be seamless, bringing extraordinary benefits that will profoundly impact where, how and why we travel.

    2. Drones are transforming the shopping experience. Amazon’s first Prime Air drone delivery, to attendees at a conference in March this year, received significant media buzz – deservedly so. Each year, we receive six billion packages weighing under three pounds. If many of these packages were delivered via drone, we could cut carbon emissions, fuel consumption and urban traffic, boosting our health and safety. 

    CTA estimates we could reach one million drone flights by 2025 – a shift that would not only change the country’s aerial landscape, but change consumer expectations on key values such as speed and customer service. Expect more drone deliveries in the years ahead. 

    3. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies are transforming how we see the world. Although most people think of AR and VR as new and exciting mediums for entertainment, the technologies also have more practical benefits. For example, these technologies can also be used to help treat mental health issues, such as paranoia and dementia. And the military is turning to VR to help veterans suffering from PTSD. Far from being an escape from the real world, AR/VR technology can help us learn how to see the world in which we already live more clearly – and envision the possibilities of the future.

    4. 3D printing is transforming the way we build and create. Additive manufacturing has been around for decades, but in the last decade, 3D printing has grown in possibility and promise. It has become invaluable in countless industries: Manufacturers use 3D printers to develop parts. They can also be used to develop prosthetics and organs and to prepare for transplant surgery.

    A study found that, of 900 supply-chain professionals, almost half expected that they would use the technology in the future. And CTA research projects a record year ahead for desktop 3D printers, with revenues reaching almost $250 million. More, the technology will streamline prototyping, allowing life-changing concepts to become reality quicker than ever.

    5. Wearables are transforming healthcare. It seems like we all know someone who has a Fitbit and loves it. And they’re not alone: 85 percent of people who use fitness wearables say it helps them meet their goals, and just last year doctors used information from a Fitbit to save a patient who had a seizure. 

    But fitness trackers are just the beginning of the possibilities of wearables. This year at CES, we saw technology that empowers consumers to manage aspects of their health. Wearables also allow people to share health information with family and doctors. In the shifting landscape of American healthcare, the connectivity and immediacy that wearables provide can help ensure that we get the best possible care.

    Healthcare, transportation, entertainment, communication, manufacturing, shopping – tech will transform all these industries in the next five years. Although we cannot fully predict the final results, we can all prepare by watching the technologies that will propel us into the future and make our lives better.

    Shapiro is CEO of the Consumer Technology Association. He also was a TRENDS Tech 10 in 2015. He is author of the New York Times best-selling books Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World's Most Successful Businesses and The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream. His views are his own. Connect with him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro

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