Five Tech Trends at TAVES Consumer Electronics Show
Toronto Public Library staff are exhibiting at this year’s TAVES Consumer Electronics Show, taking place October 13 to 15 at Toronto Congress Centre in Etobicoke. Staff will showcase and answer questions about the technologies available at our Digital Innovation Hubs and Pop-Up Learning Labs, including our 3D printers and virtual reality equipment.
TAVES is a showcase of cutting edge technologies and features a mix of tech workshops for all ages, product launches, and an eclectic program of speakers offering insights into consumer technology.
We chatted with TAVES President Suave Kajko to get his thoughts on this year’s hot technology trends, his thoughts on artificial intelligence and augmented reality, and the role he sees public libraries playing in the field of new and emerging technologies.
For those who've never been to TAVES, can you give some guidance on how to navigate the show?
Be prepared to have fun with the whole family! TAVES showcases the very latest products and prototypes in just about every technology category, including robots, wearables, augemented and virtual reality headsets, kids tech toys, 3D printing, neural tech, drones, personal transportation, electric & autonomous vehicles, home automation, and home entertainment.
TAVES also offers a great wealth of kids technology workshops. I encourage parents to sign up their young ones for one of these activities and explore the show floor in the meantime. TAVES prides itself on providing a highly interactive environment where visitors are able to try all the technology first-hand. So be sure to try the various VR experiences, test drive an electric car, fly a drone and take a self-balancing hoverboard for a ride.
When you're done exploring the exhibits, I encourage you to grab a seat and enjoy a TAVES Talks Tech discussion panel, where you can learn about the latest innovations across different tech categories from the experts.
What are your five hottest technology trends for this coming year?
Robots are an area that has fascinated me since I was very little and I feel like we are closer than ever to having useful robots in our homes. I expect a number of new social robots and personal assistant robots to make it to the market in the next year at approachable price points.
Autonomous features in cars will continue to trickle down into more affordable cars and I also believe that in the next 12 months we'll witness a great jump in the adoption of electric vehicles. I'm one of the "crazy" people who put a deposit down on a Tesla Model 3.
Virtual reality and its ability to teleport you to a completely different world is another area that I have been thrilled by ever since I experienced VR for the first time in the late 80s. I just love the immersion that the Oculus Rift and HTV Vive offer and hope to see more exciting VR software and games released over the next year.
2018 is also likely to be a big year for augmented reality as useful apps begin to appear. Apple's integration of AR into its latest iOS 11 will place the technology very quickly in the hands of mainstream consumers and at the same time make it attractive for developers to release AR software.
I also expect consumer medical wearables – think Star Trek tricorder-like devices – to become more widely available during the next 12 months. We all know that early diagnosis of health issues can lead us to living healthier and longer and that's exactly what these devices will enable us to do.
Related to the above question, augmented reality seems to be the rage right now – with Apple's iPhoneX heavily featuring an AR component. What are your thoughts on AR?
Augmented reality is an amazing technology with great potential. However, until very recently most of the AR apps I have played with have been gimmicky and not particularly useful. I would use them once and never go back.
Thanks to Apple's deep integration of AR in iOS 11, AR apps now have the potential of being adopted much quicker by the mainstream consumer market. If software developers can come up with apps that offer real-world applications and enhance the way we use our phones, the future could be very bright for AR.
However if most AR apps offer a five-minute wow factor and we never use them again, they will quickly go the way of the dodo. To date, one of the best AR apps I have seen is the Ikea Place app, an app that allows you to preview furniture in your home before you buy it. It's very smart and useful and if other developers follow suit, AR could be a big hit.
Elon Musk has a dystopian view about AI, while Mark Zuckerberg thinks the opposite. Which side do you sit on?
There is no question that artificial intelligence will play an increasingly important role in our day-to-day lives. How we choose to apply this technology will have a major influence on whether we end up living in a world that is peaceful or one in which we are oppressed by robots.
I side with Elon Musk on the issue. Let's continue developing AI, but let's do it in a calculated and careful manner. Every major new technology could be used to improve our lives or destroy them. This is no different from some of the greatest scientific discoveries of the past, such as nuclear fission energy.
Nuclear fission has enabled us to build nuclear power plants, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and their devastating impact on the environment. On the flip side, nuclear fission has also led to the development of the atomic bomb.
TPL is excited to participate in TAVES. What role do you see public libraries playing in the field of new and emerging technologies?
Personally, I love the fact that libraries are playing an active role in making cutting-edge technologies accessible to all residents of the city. The very latest innovations usually come with a big price and may not be practical for consumers to own. New technologies also often require education and training, and I'm happy that TPL offers free workshops where everyone can learn how to take advantage of the latest tech products.
At a time when the number of brick and mortar stores continues to shrink and most technology products are available only online, I imagine that public libraries will play an increasingly important role in connecting consumers with technology and allow consumers to try these products out in hands-on environments.
Libraries can also serve as a connecting ground for like-minded individuals and provide inspiration for kids to study science and technology much earlier before these subjects are introduced in the education system.