February 24, 2024

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman will not attend next week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. However, the AI startup he leads will cast a long shadow over the event as firms integrate conversational technology into diverse gadgets.

OpenAI’s Influence Looms Large  

Despite Altman’s physical absence, OpenAI’s mark on CES mirrors the clout Apple enjoyed for years at the trade show. Companies will jockey to display products integrating elements of OpenAI’s ChatGPT and image generation tools to capitalize on surging consumer enthusiasm.

Funding and focus on AI exploded last year thanks largely to OpenAI reviving public fascination.

PitchBook reports generative AI investment skyrocketed over 500% through December compared to 2022 levels.

From devices assisting visually impaired users to in-vehicle cabin monitoring systems and gun detection at schools, exhibitors will unveil AI’s embedding across electronics. Analysts say it cements 2023 as the “year of AI in everything” at CES.

Automakers like BMW and Volkswagen will demonstrate AI-enhanced virtual assistants and distraction alerts for drivers. PC giants, including Microsoft, will flaunt AI capabilities to assist users.

Multiple firms will integrate elements of OpenAI’s conversational bot into their offerings, given its 2022 fame.

Beyond futuristic demos, companies increasingly deploy AI to provide customized recommendations and experiences. According to Boston Consulting Group’s Akash Arora, hyper-personalization represents automakers’ next frontier after years focused on autonomous driving.

On a practical level, manufacturers leverage AI to accelerate vehicle development and boost manufacturing quality control, reducing costs. But consumers stand to benefit from more intuitive, responsive assistance and entertainment features thanks to artificial intelligence.

Monetization Remains Uncertain 

However, while CES exhibits will highlight AI’s promise, analysts note uncertainty around whether firms can charge premiums for AI enhancements alone. 

Since applications like improved voice commands often perform subtle tasks, consumers may undervalue stand-alone AI capabilities outside of apps like ChatGPT.

Still, no company wants to risk falling behind by ignoring AI’s moment in the spotlight. That fear of missing out ensures AI seeping into all categories, even if its specific value case remains fluid.

The tech industry’s FOMO means CES 2023 will put this year’s defining technology on full display.

Funding for generative AI projects experienced a remarkable surge last year, exceeding $23.78 billion by December 2023, reflecting the heightened enthusiasm within the tech industry. 

OpenAI, with its high-profile projects and partnerships, remains a driving force behind this AI fever.

The collaboration with Jony Ive, the former Apple designer, on a secretive AI hardware project adds an element of intrigue to OpenAI’s contributions.

While the industry is buzzing with excitement about AI integration in various products, the challenge lies in convincing consumers to embrace and pay for these capabilities. 

Unlike the more obvious functionalities of OpenAI’s ChatGPT bot, the consumer benefit of having AI on devices like PCs is still unclear. Companies are grappling with the task of demonstrating tangible utility to consumers, sparking discussions about the true value of AI in enhancing everyday technology.

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