Highwire CES 2019: Industry Trends, Gadgets and Gizmos

CES 2019

Robo-sharks. 8K televisions. A machine that makes fresh-baked bread. We came, we saw, we conquered all of CES 2019 — and a few weeks later, we’re still dreaming of some of the latest and greatest in tech innovations! The Highwire team reports back to you with the trends that stood out to us the most (with a few cool gadgets here and there):

Madison Moore, Digital Strategist
Smart home design has moved from fantasy to reality for consumers. Everything from smart wine refrigerators (to help you perfectly pair your roasted chicken dinner with a Chardonnay) to smart toilets (yes, that’s a thing), to alarm systems and connected kitchen devices were front and center at CES 2019. What’s impressive is how many of these smart home devices are working in tandem together, controlled by smartphones and Alexa/Google. The emphasis here is not on robots and smart devices taking over your home. Rather, they can help you cut down on the little things so you can spend more time with friends and family. The downside? A lot of this technology is not yet available in the United States, although reports say that most of the tech is easy to modify for U.S. markets. It’s safe to say we might have fully connected homes and apartments in the not-so-distant future (and I’ll be the first person in line to purchase that smart wine fridge…).

There was also a strong focus on mobility at CES 2019. Of course, there were some sexy, futuristic smart cars to ogle over (think: the rosy-gold futuristic BMW Vision iNEXT), but the real discussions around smart cities and smart communities were what Highwire was after. At the forefront of the discussion around autonomous and self-driving vehicles was safety, privacy, and policy. How will Congress take action to create policies, especially as things become more connected and we begin rolling out this technology to the general public and not just test subjects? Companies like Samsung, Waymo, and Verizon believe that America is in a leading position on connected and autonomous vehicles, but there needs to be bipartisan consensus and some sort of congressional infrastructure legislation in place to bring them to the masses: safely.

Sarah Koniniec, Account Manager
I thought one of the more interesting topics was the very sudden disillusionment (or rather – reality check) with 5G. In the weeks leading up to CES, we saw a significant groundswell around 5G thanks to the Verizon keynote, as well as a myriad of to-be-announced products claiming to be 5G ready.

If you ask the major U.S. telecom companies, they’ll tell you 5G has arrived. That’s not really the case though, and we saw this play out on a very public stage. *grabs popcorn* We saw both Verizon and AT&T claiming to be first to 5G, while KT argues that a robot in South Korea is its first 5G customer. We saw AT&T updating phones with a fake 5G icon, and almost immediately we saw John Legere (T-Mobile’s CEO) clapback on Twitter. And all of this arguing about what 5G is (or isn’t) doesn’t bode well for consumers who are looking for faster connectivity, lower latency, and a seamless experience from device to device.

I’ve long been saying that 5G will be America’s next big infrastructure project, and I think in the next two years we’ll start to see this play out in a major way. The private sector will need to rely heavily on the public sector if we’re going to bring improved connectivity to the masses. But working closely with politicians and government agencies will be a challenge for many large tech companies that are not feeling the love from Washington right now. Things like working with the FCC to open up additional spectrum, or working with city planners to map out smart cities enabled by 5G, are crucial for setting up the infrastructure that will encourage widespread 5G adoption.

When you combine the power of 5G technology with a bunch of other technologies that are also evolving at the same time, many of which we saw at CES — from autonomous vehicles to augmented and virtual reality, to smart home and IoT trinkets — you’ve got capabilities that can absolutely transform the way consumers live and work. But for now, we’re not ready.

Sophia Gribbs, Business Development Coordinator
A major topic of conversation at CES this year was data privacy. Apple, a brand that usually doesn’t have a presence at the conference, made an impossible-to-miss jab at its competitors. A massive billboard overlooking Google and Amazon booths at CES read, “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.” In October, Apple CEO Tim Cook warned our data “is being weaponized us with military efficiency” at the Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners held annually in Europe.

At a CES panel about American privacy regulations in a post-GDPR world, former House representative Darrell Issa discussed data privacy with industry leaders. The FTC does not have a best practices document, and the panel agreed the obligation is on the Commission for further guidance. When discussing whether the United States should adopt GDPR, the consensus was that human rights should be protected and that we should set a baseline for what data rules should be. Issa emphasized the industry has to lead because “Congress will not get it right.” A state-by-state solution for data laws was proposed for a harmonized nation.

Personally, I admired the emphasis on wellness this year in Vegas. Yes, Royole’s foldable phone, HYPERVSN’s 3-D holographics and LG’s rollable OLED TVs are quite alluring. But the technology that directly impacts one’s health and understanding of one’s body has the capacity to greatly improve the quality of life.

Omron’s HeartGuide smartwatch measures blood pressure to allow for continuous monitoring at home. Stanley Black & Decker unveiled Pria, the home care companion that can serve medication and act upon voice commands. Pria features a camera, speaker and microphone so caregivers and family members can administer care in real-time. TouchPoint provides wearables for stress release with haptic vibrations at different intensities. Philips showcased a number of SmartSleep technologies to better understand sleep problems and to identify solutions.

Walking around the massive trade show floor is bound to make anyone hungry! Impossible Foods debuted its Impossible Burger 2.0, a patty that identically mimics the look, texture and taste of beef. The food truck even gave out free burgers so conference attendees could taste for themselves. In the Technology’s Innovators and Disruptors supersession, Impossible Foods CEO Patrick Brown cited his motivation originates from focusing on the most important problem he thought he could solve.

These brands combine science and tech to take a stab at improving consumers’ general well-being. I look forward to watching healthcare technology continue to take center stage in 2019!

What the RSA 2019 Speaker Submissions Tell us About Security Trendlines

The RSA Conference in the U.S. has maintained its stance as one of the most popular events in security since its founding in 1991. In 2018, RSA welcomed approximately 50,000 attendees.

While many attendees have griped about how corporate the show floor has become, the keynotes and speaker presentations continue to draw some of the industry’s most forward-thinking leaders on a broad range of topics.

This year, representatives from the committee that selects RSA sessions hosted a podcast where they identified the most popular topics submitted for each track and what they predict to be the 2019 industry trends as a result. Highwire’s #CyberSquad listened in and summed up the key points, which we expect to closely mirror 2019 media trends. Read on for the skinny:

Hackers and Threats Track: DevSecOps to Become Mainstream

This year RSA added a new speaking track called Hackers and Threats to meet a more technical audience that’s focused on live demos and/or code dissection. There are two popular session topics for this track, the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as AI and ML. For IoT the focus is on how security teams can maintain security with the increasing amount of data coming in from multiple devices. For AI and ML, these sessions tie to tactical ways that businesses can leverage these capabilities while also breaking down how adversaries are working just as quickly to create techniques to subvert them. The main message throughout all the speaking sessions in this track is DevSecOps. This is a term the industry will see taking over headlines in the years to come as security teams prove how successful this approach is in ensuring agility, automation, and scalability.  

Emerging Threats Track: Ransomware Maintains Popularity Over Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking took over headlines throughout 2018 as a newly publicized form of attack whereby a bad actor gains unauthorized access to someone’s computer to mine for cryptocurrency like bitcoin. However, recent research revealed that despite the attention, cryptojacking does not have a very high return on investment, with popular websites only making $119-340 per day. So, while cryptojacking will continue to be a focus in the media, due mainly to its newness and ties to organized crime, ransomware will maintain its popularity with cybercriminals and media focus on successful attacks because of its increasingly high earnings – a $2B industry in 2018.

Blockchain and Applied Crypto Track: Blockchain for Good

Blockchain has continuously been a buzzword in the security industry, although the conversations around it have started to shift from a magical unicorn to a tool that organizations are working to understand so they can leverage it for their own security practices. In the Blockchain and Applied Crypto track, leveraging blockchain for good prevailed as the most popular track topic. Moving into 2019, as more companies across industries learn how to create a blockchain system applicable to their security ecosystem, we’ll begin to see a rebranding of this technology toward protection for all.

Security Strategy and Architecture Track: Zero Trust in Third Parties

Organizations face one of their biggest challenges when securing their trust with third-party partners – the grey area between a trusted company employee and an obvious outsider threat. In this year’s Security Strategy and Architecture track, the majority of speaking sessions focus on dealing with this challenge and defining Zero Trust. In order to have a functioning and successful partnership, trust in the access granted to third parties needs to be authorized and access needs to be monitored. This will continue to be a topic of discussion throughout 2019 as companies look inward at their own third-party trust processes and ensure the proper access for all sensitive data they are storing.

Highwire’s cybersecurity practice will be at the RSA 2019 conference to catch up with our clients, speak with industry influencers on the showroom floor, and learn as much as possible about the latest trends to inform new ideas and storylines in 2019 and beyond.

Want to catch up at the show? Email secleads@highwirepr.com.