Cloud computing is the unheralded hero at CES 2020

CES traditionally shows off flat screens, self-driving cars, and digital assistants, but cloud computing drives all this innovation

Cloud computing is the unheralded hero at CES 2020
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I’m speaking at CES 2020 this year. This is the first non-cloud-focused event I’ve attended in years, and I’m looking forward to learning about new things. What strikes me though is that this is actually a cloud event in disguise. Although cloud is certainly a topic at CES, I’m not sure that those who are attending and exhibiting understand how foundational public cloud computing is to the success of almost all consumer-focused electronic devices.

We all know that digital assistants use cloud computing for back-end processing, but the cloud also drives most wearables, most smart TVs, autonomous driving systems, tracking devices, even smart kitchen appliances. My estimates may be conservative, but I believe that 70 percent of the smart devices I’ll see this week have some back-end cloud service supporting them.

What does this all mean? It’s a matter of best-of-breed tools, really. The public cloud initially provided basic compute and storage services, which were helpful in supporting consumer devices but had other more traditional options.

These days public clouds are loaded with everything that a device manufacturer could need, including advanced analytics, multimodel data storage, machine learning, augmented and virtual reality, even IoT and edge computing cloud services (built specially for device management).

This array of services that may be leveraged on demand has made the public cloud more than compelling for most of those in the consumer electronics field—both within the product itself, or as part of the manufacturing, logistics, or sales of the product. 

Of course, all technology providers and promoters think that their technology is the core enabling technology of any industry. It does take a great deal of innovation to build new things, and mixing technology as well as creating new technology will be the ongoing game. What’s different is that cloud computing is a platform for new, emerging, and existing technology: it’s one-stop shopping.

That said, CES 2020 and future consumer electronics shows likely won’t be cloud focused. As a cloud expert, that really does not bother me. I think cloud computing will be largely baked in pretty soon for all technologies, including electronics. People may not often use the term “cloud computing” but it will be as much a part of electronics as silicon and plastic.