Every year, I'm approached by other attendees and asked the same question: “What is the link between insurance and the CES?” The answer is simple: CES is more than just new TVs and cell phones; it’s now an integral part of the global innovation system. From autonomous cars to connected healthcare and smart homes, technology is changing nearly everything about how we live, work and relate to each other. The insurance industry is driven forward by these exciting developments and is increasingly offering more personalized, customized and engaging solutions.
Being at the CES is like stepping through the collective mind of invention: today’s innovators are working long hours and late nights to change lives for the better. Below I've highlighted some of the most impressive trends I found at CES 2017. These trends will surely play a major role in the insurance industry, if they have not already done so.
Voice control systems are making the "Internet of Things" more human and interoperable
Virtual assistants were everywhere at this year’s CES, both as hardware and software – but one spoke much louder than the rest: Amazon’s smart speaker, the Amazon Echo, and its intelligent personal assistant, Alexa. With this device, the U.S. e-commerce giant is becoming the leading developer of operating systems for the so-called Internet of Things (IoT), just as Apple's iOS and Android have come to dominate the mobile environment. Amazon's Alexa is now making its way into various third-party devices, such as home security systems, robots, refrigerators and even cars. For example, Ford and Volkswagen teamed up with Amazon’s Alexa to enable drivers to command Internet-enabled functions such as lighting, garage doors and other smart home devices. Amazon's opportunity is quite straightforward: if the online retailer convinces companies to incorporate Alexa in their devices, it locks consumers into buying through Amazon. This is also a powerful way to collect data about consumers' everyday activities.
Today, customers expect railway companies or banks to have mobile apps. They may very soon also expect to talk to their virtual assistant to find out whether their train has been delayed, or to check their bank accounts. This is already happening in the insurance industry: for example, Aviva and Liberty Mutual are already integrating Amazon Alexa into their ecosystems.
Autonomous car technology will be life changing, even life saving
This year, the “C” in CES may as well stand for "car." Indeed, cars have become an increasingly prominent feature of CES in recent years, as the vehicles themselves become ever more connected and high-tech. This year, many companies announced projects and technologies to connect cars to each other, and to everything else. For example, Bosch announced its community parking system: connected cars can now identify open parking spaces when driving through a city center, uploading the data to a digital street map. Bosch estimates that by 2025, connected parking systems could reduce parking traffic by 380 million kilometers, which is equivalent to driving to Venus and back. Bosch is already testing this parking system in Germany and plans to add US pilot projects later this year. The car is also now becoming a digital wallet: in partnership with Visa, Honda showed off a proof of concept for in-vehicle payments which would enable drivers to pay for services such as gas and public parking through smartphone integration.
The car world is changing, and fast: in a keynote, Nissan Motor Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn said that the car of tomorrow will be autonomous, electric and connected: “By 2030, Nissan estimates 15% of cars will be fully autonomous […], 25% will be pure electric […], 25% of miles driven will be within car-sharing apps […], and almost all new cars sold will be connected.” The combination of all these technologies could create a new generation of vehicles powered by artificial intelligence systems able to anticipate and predict users’ behavior and adapt the experience accordingly.
The future of healthcare will be almost entirely digital
With the Digital Health market expected to reach $233 billion by 2020, it’s no surprise to see many digital technologies applied to healthcare at CES. “Very soon, technology will replace 80% of what doctors do today,” said experts from Philips, Qualcomm and Intel in a panel discussing the impact of digital technology on the healthcare space. Advances include a smart pillbox that reminds you to take your meds (e.g., Memo Box, p-heal); a car that provides drivers with essential data about their health (e.g., heart rate, fatigue level, etc.), both inside the car and out (e.g. Mercedes Benz and Philips); a connected wearable device for pregnancy (e.g., Bloomlife); a smart belt to measure waist size, record eating habits and track activity levels (e.g., Welt); an automatic insulin dosage tracker (InsulinK by Dnurse).
There are many exciting breakthroughs designed to give consumers the power to manage their health and wellness like never before. Advances in digital health have the potential to transform society in much the same way as the personal computer did years ago. Digital health has already had a transformative impact on healthcare and the way insurers manage the protection business: these tools also have the potential to improve the management of and prevention of disease.
Robots are invading your home … to help you
As expected, many companies showcased robots during the CES 2017. In a recent report, the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) predicted that sales of service robots for personal and domestic use will reach 35M units by 2018. Dozens of new robots have been introduced into the marketplace during the CES. A Bosch-supported start-up called Mayfield Robotics introduced Kuri, its home robot, a 50cm robot equipped with speakers, a microphone, a camera and multiple sensors. Kuri can understand context and surroundings, recognize specific people, and respond to all kinds of questions. LG also announced a robot that uses Amazon's Alexa to answer questions or perform household tasks such as turning on the air conditioner, playing music and controlling lighting. In the near future, we expect personal robots to become commonplace in households: it will help users book taxis and air tickets, open bank accounts, make investments and much more. Tomorrow, we expect that our customers will use personal robot assistants for companionship, home security, and assistance for the dependent.
At CES, I experienced a world in which objects could talk to each other and express their feelings, a world with no driving fatalities, one where incurable diseases are a thing of the past. This future will take years, but all of this is within our reach.
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This article was written with Julien Neveu and Mohamadou Yacoubou, AXA France