CES 2018 didn’t disappoint, but it didn’t necessarily amaze, save for a few standouts like “The Wall” – the new modular TV, with MicroLED technology, from Samsung. It’s a definite must-see in person.

Beyond the bright shiny objects, the promise of a “connected life” was the prevailing narrative at the event this year. With that in mind, here are three themes that were ubiquitous at CES 2018:

You’re talking, but who’s listening?

At last year’s CES, Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant made a splash with its product integrations.

This year, voice control was omnipresent, with Alexa and Google Assistant seemingly embedded everywhere – and in everything. Samsung also demonstrated how it is scaling up the integration of its Bixby 2.0 digital assistant, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple takes this as a cue to ramp up Siri. (Who knows what will become of Microsoft’s Cortana.)

Despite the hype about voice technology, an underlying question remains: Do you want these devices always listening no matter where you are?

Intelligence of things

A toothbrush that connects to an app to guide your brushing regimen is so 2017. The focus today is on pushing internet-enabled devices to be intelligent. That’s where the proverbial rubber meets the road – in some cases literally, as evidenced by the unveiling of Byton’s first concept car.

While terms like “artificial intelligence” (AI) and “smart” technology continue to get thrown around at CES, however, there were few products that leveraged true AI and machine learning.

Open the door

Home automation took center stage again this year, but many of the products were just upgrades of what we saw at CES 2017.

Vivint, which had an impressive connected home display last year, took its technology outside with the introduction of Streety, an app that allows neighbors to share security camera footage with one another. Hello, neighborhood Listserv!

But as myriad things in a home – from garage doors to thermostats, lights, ovens and door locks – can now be controlled with an app or using voice tech, the next question centers around security. It’s great that you can remotely open the door for someone when you’re running behind, but making sure an unwanted visitor can’t do the same for themselves will soon become a hot topic.

While these security discussions continue to gather steam, the promise of a “connected life” is certainly becoming a reality. And since the devices and technologies are now all here, the focus now will be on whether they can achieve mainstream adoption as we move toward CES 2019.