CES is the largest consumer electronics show held with 3,800 vendors from around the world descending upon Las Vegas each January to pitch the coolest gadgets and deliver the latest product announcements for home, automotive, robot and fitness technology. Many product trends are first proven in the consumer market and then evolve to find their way into business environments. In this article, learn about top CES trends and the precursor products that CPAs could one day find in their offices.
Ultra high definition monitors with resolutions that are two or more times more precise than existing screens are becoming commonplace, meaning that it’s time to start upgrading monitors to take advantage of these better resolutions which will help us be more productive at work. Many of the monitors we see utilized in firms today are more than five years old, often mismatched with different size screens and varying resolutions/clarity. Monitors such as Samsung’s 28” U28D590D and Dell’s 29” U2913WM are under $600 and can replace two existing screens; some CPAs are even going up to 40” curved screens to make the most of their desktop real estate.
Intel’s 6th generation of processors are compressed into a smaller form factor that is two-thirds of the previous generations, meaning the transistors are smaller, closer together, requiring less power and creating less heat. What does this mean to accountants? Thinner laptops and tablets with longer battery life. Samsung Notebook 9 Series and Lenovo’s Yoga 900S Hybrid (laptop/tablet) are both less than a half inch thin. PC components have gotten so small you can carry a Windows 10 PC in your pocket! Intel’s Compute Stick PC comes with 32Gb of RAM and works by attaching a Bluetooth keyboard, mouse, and connecting to the HDMI port on a TV/display. Along with a USB 3.0 and 2.0 connection, there is a microSD slot where up to 128Gb of additional storage can be added.
Standing and exercise desks were scattered throughout the Fitness pavilions touting increases in individual productivity by getting up out of that seat that so many of us labor in for 10 or more hours per day. Autonomous.ai showed off one of the most cost effective automatic standing desks at under $600 and LifeSpan showed off their treadmill desks, where you can knock out those Fitbit steps while reviewing tax returns. The most used treadmill desks are in companies where two of them are setup side by side!
While activity trackers such as the Fitbit and Garmin Vivo products fall into the wearable fitness category, the new trend is providing turn-key corporate wellness programs as part of their appeal to adopt these tools. These companies now provide webinars on optimizing health, individual and group dashboards, and volume discounts on their devices to make adoption easy for any CPA firm.
Robots with Eyes
Single purpose robots such as the Roomba that sweeps your floor, Winbot that washes your windows, and the GrillBot (yes, one that scrubs your BBQ grill) have had successful consumer launches at CES, but this year the trend is adding video to any moving object such as the LG Hom-Bot that is a vacuum cleaner that lets you see what is going on in your house by broadcasting video to your smartphone while sweeping up the floor. A company called MyOrbii showed off a robotic ball that can move around your home and stream video, sounds, and report temperature, humidity and air quality live to your phone. Bigger mobile robots from Double Robotics and BeamPro combine a Segway-like robot with a tablet/video camera so not only can you see what is going on around the office, but you can be on the video call from your desk so the remote person can see and speak with you. These robotic surrogates will allow auditors to be in more than one place at a time and maybe even record information for continuous audit processes.
Drones such as the DJI Phantom 3 and Parrot Bebop with high resolution cameras were another strong CES trend and could someday be used not only for delivering goods, filming events, and search and rescue missions, but used by CPAs for recording inventory observations. While the vast majority of today’s drones are “unmanned,” the most extreme drone was the Ehang 184 which was capable of transporting a person. Think of an Uber or Lyft service that works via a drone which you would enter your location and where you want to go and the drone would come pick you up and deliver you. Forget about autonomous self-driving cars that still get stuck in traffic; fly above the crowds while clearing your email!
Consumer technology and innovation will always push the barriers of our imagination and today’s crazy ideas often become tomorrow’s practical solutions. The annual CES gathering is one of the finest opportunities to see what’s on the “bleeding edge” and a pilgrimage every technology geek should do at least once in their lifetime!
Roman H. Kepczyk is Director of Consulting for Xcentric, LLC and works exclusively with accounting firms to implement today’s leading best practices and technologies.
Last updated: 21 October 2019