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The annual Consumer Electronics Show is always a celebration of the most cutting-edge, futuristic designs and products that startups and big brands have been developing. While many of the products are interesting for their novelty factor, there are always a few trends that emerge that software developers, programmers, and tech leaders need to know.

CES 2020 provides a good indication of where product development, tech innovation, and design will evolve in the year to come. Freelance developers who are looking to future-proof their skillset can take note of these trends emerging from CES to learn a new coding language, shore up their UX/UI credentials, or branch out in an entirely new area of expertise. Here are our big takeaways from CES 2020 for developers.

AI, 8K, and 5G are becoming the norm

As one analyst at The Verge noted, artificial intelligence, 8K resolution, and 5G data used to be the hottest buzzwords in the tech industry. This year, there’s a little less excitement surrounding these three features. “Companies still insist on mentioning AI in their press releases, but don’t wait for you to ooh and ahh anymore. We all know it’s just another way of saying ‘computer models do it’ and with a few exceptions (like Neon), nobody is pretending otherwise,” writes The Verge.

That’s not to say that companies aren’t incorporating AI and 5G into their products. Even industrial tractor company John Deere has been positioning itself as an AI and data company. That consumer electronics include AI and are compatible with 5G has become a given, rather than a novelty. It’s no surprise that machine learning is one of the most in-demand skills for developers this year.

Consumer privacy concerns clashed convenience

There were plenty of new products designed to be both inclusive and invisible, meaning voice and vision-activated technology took center stage. For instance, the OrCam Hear camera uses a Bluetooth headset linked with AI so the user can see who is talking and boost the frequency so that the hearing-impaired can use the headset reliably. However, these technologies collect a vast amount of data in the process.

“Not just your face, your voice, your body, even your sex life is being tracked and monitored by massive technology firms, which means that something we’ve always said in the BizTech world forever, consumers are now experiencing this balance, this trade-off, between convenience on the one hand, and security and privacy on the other hand,” CBS News’ Dan Patterson told TechRepublic.

What does this mean for developers? Two things: first, that privacy concerns will lead to a greater demand for cybersecurity expertise. And second, with all the data being collected by consumer electronics companies, there will be a demand for talent to organize and analyze it. Developers will need to be up to date with the best cybersecurity practices and ways for storing, sorting, and using big data.

Design is getting more subtle

Forget the flashy world of the Jetsons: today’s technology is all about subtlety. The technology showcased at CES showed that products of the future are “becoming less obtrusive, more subtle and blending into the environment in more natural ways.”

Coders and developers are going to re-think the customer experience as design changes how the user will interact with a piece of technology. Two consumer tech companies introduced smart surfaces made of plastic, metal, wood and other materials. Sound-wave technology takes user commands outside the traditional home-button UX. “Pressing and holding one spot could activate a power button. Sliding your finger up and down one side can change the volume. Squeezing the phone can take a selfie. Running your index finger down the back of the phone could act like a scroll wheel,” describes CNET.

Mobile developers and front end programmers need to consider how this outside-the-box UI will change their approach to creating a great in-app experience. Use your freelancer portfolio to show how your code is flexible, customizable, and able to evolve with whatever screen, material, and shape an app is delivered.

Consumer tech is infiltrating the workplace

CES tech from 2020 is likely to quickly make it from consumer homes to our offices. The challenge for developers will be to bridge the gap in software from entertainment to business. “Whether it’s smart TVs in our conference rooms, new laptops, tablets, or foldable phones that might be perfect for mobile workers, voice-enabled apps used by our sales teams, or AI-driven health tech designed to improve employee wellness, CES is the perfect place to see a lot of the consumer tech that will eventually make its way into our workplaces,” write the experts at ZDNET. We predict software developers and programmers will be tasked with designing programs optimized for tech tools with built-in automation, high resolution, and data capabilities.

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