23 May 2019
A demonstration of a vehicle on auto-pilot at the Consumer Electronics Show. Photo: CNSA
A demonstration of a vehicle on auto-pilot at the Consumer Electronics Show. Photo: CNSA

A third Industrial Revolution is on its way

I attended the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas days ago.

The CES is a showcase of the world’s technology development. This year, I didn’t see as many revolutionary products as it had in previous years, but the upgraded or more mature models of those revolutionary products.

It means many of the products are ready for the market.

In the coming five to 10 years, there are at least three ways technology will change our lives.

First, the unmanned vehicle. Nine major manufacturers joined the show this year. They are the internet giants as well as the traditional carmakers like BMW and Ford.

The huge success of Apple’s products accelerated the development of many suppliers along the “Apple supply chain”.

Once unmanned vehicles are broadly adopted, demand for screens, vehicle processors and cloud computing will increase. Is it possible for an “unmanned vehicle supply chain” to emerge?

Valuation of Uber has surpassed US$60 billion. Is its unmanned vehicle business priced in?

The broad adoption of unmanned vehicles will turn the vehicle manufacturing and transportation sectors upside down.

Moreover, amid increasing concern for environmental protection, unmanned vehicles powered by renewable energy could be more promising.

Another focus is on virtual reality (VR) technologies. Sony, Samsung and Oculus all displayed their new VR devices.

I had a try. It was amazing. However, users will feel a little dizzy after wearing it for a long time.

For now, VR devices are mainly used for educational and medical purposes. Adult entertainment on VR can also be a potential demand. Investors should keep an eye on the “VR devices supply chain”.

A third trend is the development in smart home appliances. In Samsung’s showroom, all things are interconnected via the internet.

This has the potential to completely change people’s lifestyle. For example, when people can work anywhere, even from their homes, what would be the impact on demand for office buildings?

Mainland developer Vanda has been developing its movie and culture businesses. The logic is that, while online shopping is now widely adopted, only catering, cinema and cultural businesses can attract consumers to physical shopping malls. Will demand for shopping malls be affected?

Technological advancements in the internet era will pave the way for the third industrial revolution.

The changes will be faster and have a deeper impact than most of us have thought.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 15.

Translation by Myssie You

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Columnist at the Hong Kong Economic Journal

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