​The Britton Digital Update—Week of January 8, 2018

​Five minutes to get you up to speed on this week’s digital, business, social media, entertainment, and marketing news

I have always loved the Back to the Future movies. While the original is my favorite, I am a pretty big fan of Back to the Future II. That installment took us on a great leap forward in time—all the way to the year 2015 (gulp)! OK, that “future” was almost three years ago, but it’s interesting to see how reality compares to the film. While the Cubs have won the World Series, we still don’t have flying cars—yet. It may be a few years off, but companies like Uber are working on that.

One of my favorite Back to the Future II scenes is when they show the future McFly household with all its smart home tech inside. The Pizza Hut pizza cooks instantly in a hydrator using voice commands; Marty McFly’s children are wearing goofy tech glasses that make them look like they are staring off into space; and the TV can use voice commands to call up different channels on a giant flat screen that didn’t exist back in 1985.

We’re not far off from that imagined version of 2015. Amazon just announced Alexa integration into microwaves so we can control with voice commands; virtual reality has given us goofy glasses; and we can already use voice commands to tell our Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Roku, and AppleTV streaming devices to pull up our favorite show. We have had some pretty huge TV sets, too. But the latest parade of futuristic tech may take the hydrated cake.

This week, at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, Samsung unveiled a 146-inch, 8K television that puts my 55-inch screen at home to shame. While it is technically a concept TV and not in production yet, it is being called “The Wall” because it is so huge. It uses millions of MicroLEDs which allows provide better color and clarity because no backlight is required. It also allows the television to be modular, meaning its size can be customized to fit your space. It can be as large as a wall or smaller to fit your needs. Price has not yet been released, but I bet you could actually build a wall much cheaper.

There were several other cool announcements to take us back to the future (hopefully not 2015, something further ahead). That is our focus for this week’s Britton Digital Update—our look the latest digital, business, social media, entertainment, and marketing news. Here’s what you may have missed at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show.

Welcome (Smart) Home

One thing is for sure: Unless you plan on living off the grid, there won’t be less technology in your home of the future. As a matter of fact, it seemed like half of what was announced at CES was related to your future smart home. We are just now beginning to see the tip of the iceberg when it comes to connected devices and the “internet of things.”

In the future, all of our refrigerators will be smart. Not just “it has a touchscreen” smart, either. LG announced its new Instaview ThinQ refrigerator, which has a transparent smart screen. Tapping twice allows you to see what is inside without having to stand there with the door open while you decide what to snack on. You can also add virtual stickers to food. That way, you can be reminded of expiration dates so the food doesn’t spoil. And being connected to the internet of things will allow it to talk to other smart home devices. It can communicate with your smart oven to know what temperature it should be preheated to or how long a recipe calls for it to cook. Yes, the the recipe can be viewed on the touchscreen, too.

Smart home products will also live outside the kitchen. Moen and Kohler want to battle it out in the bathroom, and they are taking Alexa and Siri with them. Each manufacturer announced smart shower products that can connect your digital assistant to your shower. In the future, we’ll just ask Alexa or Siri to start the shower so it can warm up to the right temperature before we ever set foot in the bathroom. And since we each have different preferences in the shower, the products have programmable presets and water temperature preferences associated with different individuals. You can also set time lengths to limit water usage and shower time. We’re not sure how integrated they are with Alexa and Siri, but it would be a convenient time to catch up on your morning news briefing while you suds up, as well.

Smart Home Delivery

Even with all of that smart kitchen technology there are times that you don’t want to cook after a long day at work. A partnership between Toyota and Pizza Hut could help you out. The two companies are teaming up to create a driverless pizza delivery concept vehicle. The vehicle may eliminate the need for drivers and cook staff, with plans depicting the vehicle’s ability to cook the pizzas on the way to your house. The technology is still being developed, but it is interesting that a similar idea was used in a recent episode of the Netflix series Black Mirror. Toyota plans on testing the concept vehicle at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Domino’s Pizza is already testing autonomous pizza delivery in a venture with Ford. In 2017, Domino’s tested delivery in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with a self-driving Ford Fusion. According to MIT Technology Review, “Customers had to approach the car and enter a number on a touch screen on the side of the vehicle to get their pizza.” There were valuable insights gained about user experience, such as the fact that many customers say thank you (to the vehicle) and often came out of their house barefoot to grab their pies. Domino’s plans to test the concept in a second market this March.

Alexa, Alexa, Alexa

Amazon has plans for getting Alexa into more than just your kitchen and bathroom. It plans on gaining connectivity in portable devices like headphones and smartwatches, too. This week, the retail giant announced an Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit that will allow hardware manufacturers to easily integrate the digital assistant without major investments.

Alexa could hit the road in 2018 thanks to two new Amazon partnerships announced at CES, too. Toyota and Lexus plan to integrate Alexa into its Entune and Enform systems in yet-to-be announced 2019 models. Panasonic is also teaming with Amazon for Alexa OnBoard in its in-car infotainment systems. These partnerships would likely lead to vehicles being able to interact with Alexa to manage appointments, lists, etc. like you can on an Echo device, as well as manage vehicle features.

OK, Google

Of course, Google Assistant and Siri won’t just let Alexa take rule the digital assistant universe without a fight. While sales of Google Mini smart speakers were strong over the holidays, Amazon has as much as 70 percent of the smart speaker market cornered. Google, however, says it has now surpassed more than 400 million devices with its Google Assistant including “Android smartphones, tablets, TVs, headphones and Google Home smart speakers.” Basically, don’t count Google out just yet. Much like Alexa’s skills, Google assistant can perform “actions.” This week, Google announced a new directory for users to find and access the more than one million actions that are now available for Google Assistant.

During CES, Google announced Assistant integration into smart displays from Sony, JBL, Lenovo, and LG. It thinks these devices can compete with the Amazon Echo Show. Picture an iPad screen with a speaker on each side that can sit on a table, and you’ll understand what’s in store. It could be interesting to see how consumers react to these devices.

The Rest

There were plenty of other fascinating smart products that were announced at CES that could eventually make it to market. They include:

For the rest of the latest news, here’s a compilation of the best news stories that we don’t have time to expound upon but that you should probably take notice of:

If you liked this, check out our previous Digital Update posts or the Digital Update on Flipboard.

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Dave Goode

Dave Goode

My name is Dave B. Goode (yes, it is my real name). If it sounds like a radio name, it is—well, it was. I had a 22-year radio-broadcasting career as a brand manager and morning-show host. I’m an amateur photographer. I love to cook. I am obsessed with social media. I have come to the realization that Chia Pet seeds do not work on a human head and that it is OK to be bald.

Meet Dave Goode