CES 2018 preview: Amazon Vs Google voice wars and connceted cars - what to expect from the biggest tech show of the year

Lynsey Barber
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Las Vegas is host to thousands of visitors to the Consumer Electronics Show (Source: Getty)

The biggest technology brands in the world and the relative minnows wanting to take them on will be thrown together this week along with industry experts, for the annual technology jamboree that is the Consumer Electronics Show.

The gathering of thousands of people in Las Vegas will see cutting edge devices unveiled, partnerships announced and demonstrations of the biggest tech trends coming in the year ahead.

Here's what to look out for...

Battle of the voice assistants

Amazon Alexa dominated last year's CES, with the voice assistant being added to pretty much anything, from cars to fridges.

Book-ending 2017 with another stellar Christmas season, Amazon's unlikely to concede any of its smart speaker winning streak to rivals easily.

But this year, Google will be looking take on Amazon's already very established dominance in the nascent space. It has almost quite literally planted its flag to claim CES in 2018, going all out plastering advertising that reads "Hey Google" across the city signalling a large presence at a show it usually makes little fuss over.

All eyes will be on where Google Assistant will appear as a result of partnerships with other companies, rather than the Google Home speaker itself. Tie-ups with LG and Hisense to bring it to TVs and GE for smart home devices have already been revealed in the run up to the week-long event.

But, that may not be enough to catch up and Google would really have to pull a rabbit out of its CES hat to make it happen.

"We predict that Amazon's Alexa will be more pervasive than ever, cropping up in numerous device categories, including cars, computers, fridges, lights, radios, TVs and more," analysts at CCS Insight predict.

"Rival voice assistants such Apple's Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft's Cortana and Samsung's Bixby will be on show, but will significantly lag behind Amazon's Alexa, which will be the dominant platform for voice at CES 2018."

Connected cars accelerate

Cars took centre stage last year too, with CES making itself a date as important in car makers' calendars as any of the hottest motor shows.

The meeting of tech and transport still has many bumps to overcome, but this year is expected to offer a more realistic vision.

"An important trend will be the shift away from a preoccupation with completely autonomous driving to more emphasis on driver aids. This will provide much-needed balance, and offer a more realistic vision of the car of the future," said CCS Insight analysts.

"We expect a broad showcase of electric cars and lots of partnerships between automakers, semiconductors companies like Intel, Nvidia and Qualcomm, content providers and mapping companies."

Ford, Daimler, Toyota and Nissan are among the car brands to be heading to Vegas, with the latter already having shown off a "brain-to-vehicle" concept device - a head set that can understand what you are about to do when driving so it can then assist with that action, for example, braking.

Say hi to AI

Of course the common thread running through connected cars and smart assistants is artificial intelligence. Expect more hype around this and then some.

"The term 'artificial intelligence' will be more nebulous than ever and its widespread use in efforts to enhance the perceived value of a product is reminiscent of the way the 'Internet of things' moniker has been used to grab attention even if the definition of the category remains opaque," said CCS in a note.

LG's concept robots

And the same goes for robots, which grab headlines and look cute, but may not be the next mainstream must-have just yet with limited use.

LG, for example, will be showing off its new range of Wall-E faced serving robot, porter Robot and shopping cart robot, designed to deliver drinks and luggage at hotels and airports, and help guide you round supermarkets.

"We expect a further deluge of pseudo artificial intelligence devices at CES 2018, continuing the theme of faintly ridiculous products such as the 'intelligent' toothbrush that emerged at last year's show," the analysts said.

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