How can innovation help us reach the UN sustainable development goals? The CES2020 report.

Voor digitale technologie gedreven verandering

How can innovation help us reach the UN sustainable development goals? The CES2020 report.

The Consumer electronics show in Las Vegas (CES) is one of the largest tech show on the planet with 4500 exhibiting companies. (source Statista

Where the tech world convenes

CES is more than just consumer electronics. It is everything tech. Basically, if there is an electrical current flowing in the product or service, you can see it at CES.

New bee experience

It was my first time visit and let me start by giving you some beginners advice/lessons learned.

  • Put on walking shoes. Day one, my Garmin counted 22000 steps. Actually 28000, but I went for a run in the morning.
  • Focus on a topic per day. Conference topics are clustered on specific days and locations. Mixing topics will make you travel back and forward between different locations.
  • Pick a hotel near the monorail. Ok there is a big queue at the end of the day, but taxi’s/Uber are not available either.
  • Some conference sessions are free, others are paid, and some are private. Make sure you get your invites.

Tech for good

I decided to look at how we can use tech to deliver a positive societal impact. i.e. Innovation that matters

I took the UN sustainable development goals as my guideline. The United Nations (UN) adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I know that sounds a bit counterproductive, flying to Vegas to learn about how tech can help us reach sustainability goals. I do enjoy sailing and cycling, so going there by boat and bike would have been a blast. However, it would have taken me at least two months to get there.


Tech at CES per SDG goal

Goal 2 is aiming at zero hunger and sustainable agriculture.

At CES2020 shows sustainable greenhouses where fish waste is plant nutrition. GroPod has a sort mini fridge size appliance that grows fresh produce in your home that requires no distribution, storage, or preservatives. John Deere tractors are equipped with AI to detect bad herbs from good crops and as such reducing the use of chemicals. Sherpa light from Sherpa Space offer led lightning which simulates a certain geographic location. Allowing you to grow strawberries in Iceland. I guess that is more environmentally friendly than shipping them over. Coolfinity is a refrigerator designed for use in countries with unreliable power to prevent food waste.

Goal 4 is aiming at quality education and learning opportunities for all.

To be honest there is not a lot of Ed-tech at CES. The Educause conference is a much better source for that.

Everfi runs a high school program to teach entrepreneurial skills. Three young entrepreneurs entered a pitch competition “the future innovators” 

The presenters were:

  • Bitloop extra-curricular education to learn programming
  • Unotify is one app to rule all app notification 
  • Quokka saving helps young people manage their finance

Most Ed-tech shown at CES is aimed at kids.

  • EPIK’s HighQ tablets provide educational tools and games to learn languages, math and programming
  • Start to learn coding at the age of 4! with Tangiplay
  • With Handy Block you learn programming skills while assembling physical blocks with code to control a robot.
  • Creacube is the worlds first bluetooth math exercise toy
  • Roybi is a little robot to help children learn math, science, and tech
  • Adok is a smart projector has the power to turn any wall, any surface into a Digital Whiteboard.

Goal 5 is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Happy to see this is a topic at CES. The hosted the Equality Lounge. I attended a session where P&G showed what they do to achieve equality. A major international brand like P&G can help create a world free from gender bias. A good example was the Gillette campaign. Companies can drive change by managing their partner eco-system when it comes to gender equality.

New Voices did a pitch competition for female entrepreneurs of color. Only 1% of Venture Capital money goes to colored female entrepreneurs. New Voices Fund is created to empower women of color by providing access, capital and expertise.

Goal 6 is to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. At CES Zero mass water showed its product which turns air and sun into water.

Goal 11 is aimed at making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.

The Seoul smart city platform is a city dashboard. It allows real time monitoring of traffic, pollution, energy use, water use and more in real time. Maps and monitors the quantity of green space in cities. 

Goal 12 is to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Promising sounds from big suppliers discussing in a forum how to bring sustainability into account in product design. Investing in the development of a smart thermostat. The manufacturing process creates waste, but the benefits outweighs the environmental impact of producing the device. More study should be conducted to determine if the development of a new product will provide a positive environmental impact over its total lifecycle.

Take responsibility a sustainable supply chain. Set a minimal standard and educate business partners.

Make a product which can be dismantled.
Have a recycle and or return part. Dell’s goal by 2030 is that for every product sold, one comes back.
A sustainability strategy is key for recruiting and retaining young talent.
5 years ago, nobody knew what a PhD in sustainability meant and what you could do with it. Now we bring together Industrial design students and sustainability students. 

Companies can drive change by managing their partner eco-system when it comes to sustainability.

Goal 13 is to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Under this chapter I would like to present all the electrical transportation initiatives. Assuming we generate green electricity all the bikes, cars, trucks and drones add a lot to this goal.

Robots at CES2020

Ubtech showed its AIMBOT. A robot which can monitor datacenters.

Samsung has unveiled Ballie a tennis ball-like robot that beeps and rolls around, following its owner. You can give it voice instructions like google home or Alexa. A caddy that follows you around. Delta airline showed a robot arm which will help you lifting heavy suitcases.

The Claw-Wheel robot can transform between the claw mode and the wheel mode. The claw mode driven by four unique claws is used to overcome rough terrain, like a stairs case.

A restaurant robot collecting and trays, various toy robots and transformer robot dancing the Haga. Finally a programmable education robot and an Ironman robot.

Take away

My overall conclusion of the show is that all the tech is there. The technical innovation will continue at a staggering speed. With the technology currently available we can change the world more than we currently do, but technical components alone are enough. Major changes in our society can only be achieved if we move beyond technical innovation. How do we can bring it all together in business ecosystems in the legacy world? This requires a new type of innovation. architectural innovation or distributed innovation