Insights from CES 2018: Connected Everything

CES 2018 demonstration of Flex AR reference design

If you thought smart technology couldn’t get smarter, think again. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Flex featured a fully immersive experience showcasing innovative solutions in a range of industries, from smart home and lifestyle to automotive, healthcare, and enterprise computing.

“CES is always an exciting time for Flex, even more so in this Age of Intelligence™. Our presence at the event gives us the opportunity to showcase our portfolio of cross-industry capabilities and have conversations with companies who share our passion for the future,” says Mike McNamara, Flex’s CEO.

What trends stood out?

1. Innovation in connected products starts with design

CES showed a greater focus on the importance of design, to enable rapid innovation in connected technologies. Many products Flex highlighted are Sketch-to-Scale™ solutions, including a thermostat that displays the weather and changes the temperature with a voice command, a neurostimulator that helps treat brain cancer and an elegant wearable wristband that not only opens a car’s door, it can customize the driving experience for each person. What does that mean? Sketch-to-Scale changes the way products are designed and developed to fit a market need. Prototypes rapidly come to life through 3D printing. Products are built to scale through robotics and AR/VR, and introduced to customers globally through real-time supply chain logistics.

2. Designing AR technology just got easier  

IDC predicts that total spending on AR/VR will to increase to $215 billion by 2021 — and better design options will make that vision a reality. Flex introduced an augmented reality (AR) reference design to reduce time to market for companies making AR devices for enterprise and consumer applications. The Flex AR reference design is a complete product specification, including a head-mounted display (HMD), an external processing unit (EPU) and a gesture-based software platform to manage interaction. Companies can use the Flex AR reference design instead of having to develop their own hardware to reduce product development costs and quickly scale manufacturing.

3. Consumers want smart products in all areas of their lives

“Consumers no longer want a product, they want a smart connected system that collects, manages and analyzes their data and applies that intelligence to how they live, work and play,” says Mike Dennison, President of the Consumer Technology Group at Flex.

Flex displayed a variety of solutions to help meet future consumer needs, including a refrigerator connected to an oven that can tell you what you can make for dinner; a ride-share bike with tubeless wheelchair-inspired wheels that won’t go flat; and shoes that lace themselves. Smart innovation is touching all areas of the way we live and work.

4. Whole industries are going "smart"

One of the most exciting trends is the wide range of industries that are going “smart.” Re-imagined technologies are creating more relevance and value than ever before, such as wireless Bluetooth earphones that can also amplify a conversation in a crowded room. By integrating “intelligent” functionalities into existing products, we’re changing the relationship between businesses and consumers, turning information into action and creating new capabilities and richer experiences. Industries from consumer tech to health care are exploring the possibilities of not just making smart devices, but creating smart environments through intelligent connections.

If this year’s CES underscored one thing, it’s that the next wave of growth and differentiation in consumer products — across all industries — focuses on smart, connected products. Flex is excited to help our partners create the next wave of Sketch-to-Scale products and help build a more connected world.

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