At the Heart of the Tech: Reflections from CES 2020

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Sensum was back on the Vegas Strip for CES again this year, to showcase our latest tools and get a feel for where the tech world is headed.

Our team arrived at the world’s biggest technology event in a hire-car rigged out with our new Synsis™ Empathic Tech Developer Kit so people could get a hands-on demonstration of how to measure how people feel when they’re in a vehicle. The portable kit is the first of its kind to provide real-time human state measurement from body, face and voice metrics. It takes five minutes to set up, enabling innovators to understand how people respond to their products and services, and to create technology that interacts empathically with its users.

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Sensum CEO Gawain (with The Beard, obvs!) demonstrating Synsis in a vehicle

While the Sensum team was driving people around the CES complex, our partner Valeo was also at the show, demonstrating how our empathic tech underpins its Smart Cocoon concept. In Valeo’s words:

As machines further and further replace human interface, they must be able to have a finer understanding of our emotions. And as mobility continues to evolve and take on new forms, the focus will be less about driving performance, but about the most individualized in-cabin experience mobility has to offer. – From Smart Cocoon to “Empathic” mobility by Valeo

Last year we shared our insights about The Evolution of In-Cabin Sensing, From One CES to the Next. This year the presence of mobility tech continued to grow, along with a raft of solutions for in-cabin monitoring. This is hardly surprising as we enter the year that Euro NCAP mandated for driver monitoring features to be included in new vehicles, in its Road Map 2025 initiative.

As the mobility tech becomes increasingly ACES – autonomous, connected, electric and shared – it’s not just about the old auto brands any more. Consider that Amazon is embedding its software in electric vehicles, and Sony surprised the world by unveiling its own electric concept car. As the business of transport becomes more about selling services than steel, there is a growing argument that the sector will be led by those who understand data and user-experience more than cup-holders and turbochargers.

Some of the most exciting innovations on display at CES 2020 served not only to validate that mobility is increasingly about the delivery of smart experiences, but also helped to set smart mobility solutions in the wider context of smart cities, and ultimately smart living. For example, Uber and Hyundai showed off a flying car concept for future air taxis. And Toyota announced its plans to build a ‘Woven’ City under Mount Fuji, which focuses on a range of smart features.

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One of the flying car concepts on show – this one from Bell

There was also some explicitly empathic tech on display this year, such as Audi’s AI:Me concept car, and Samsung’s rhetoric of human-focused tech in what the company is calling the ‘Age of Experience’.

With car companies building cities and electronics companies building cars, we are seeing a blurring of the boundaries between brands, services and devices. But through it all there is still one essential thread, the heart of the technology, if you will. It’s you. Or me. It’s the human. And the better we can teach our machines to understand what it means to be a human, the better our interactions with technology can become.

Ben Bland

Chief Operations Officer