Race for ‘smart’ hits fever pitch at Consumer Electronics Show

Giving gadgets brains will be a hot theme at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) set to open in Las Vegas, with device makers’ big and small touting hardware with “smarts.”

Whether it’s a doorbell or refrigerator, a TV set or a toothbrush, chances are it will be connected to digital assistants powered by artificial intelligence (AI) aiming to anticipate needs or desires.

“I think you’re going to see the year of smart,” said Jack Gold, a technology analyst with J. Gold Associates.

One of the largest trade shows in the world, the Jan. 9-12 CES will attract about 170,000 visitors and 3,900 exhibitors from 150 countries and will showcase innovations in computers, gaming, robotics, vehicle technology, virtual and augmented reality and more.

Mr. Gold said gadgets will be increasingly tuned to glean insights about the people using them, with an aim of anticipating what might be desired at any given moment.

“Your device will learn about you and will know your preferences, and it’ll then try to get smarter about how to interact with you,” he said.

As consumer electronics evolve, an overriding theme has become voice-assisted digital assistants being integrated into more devices, said Stephen Baker of the research firm NPD.