A gathering of the geeks
Every year, in a peregrination like the salmon going upstream to spawn, over one hundred and fifty thousand people invade Las Vegas for CES. The Consumer Electronics Show, as it was formerly known, is a gathering of all things tech, from gadgets, to the latest advancements for almost any industry imaginable.
Every January, we have to fight the long and excruciating taxi lines, the full and price-gouged hotels and jostle amongst thousands of people to catch a snapshot of the latest tech craze device, be it a vacuum shoe or hair regenerating gadget.
This year was no exception; we came, saw and conquered, even though we didn’t stay at Caesar’s. We visited the show and broadcasted live to millions of people through Univision’s morning show Despierta America and many other outlets that wanted to see what’s cool in tech for 2017.
While the show is about consumer electronics, it’s not for consumers. It’s an industry trade show where many distribution deals and even acquisitions are made. It’s also the perfect place to see from a 10,000 foot view, what’s happening in the different areas of the industry. Here is some of what I saw.
From every type of Virtual Assistant to Internet of Things devices to toys – lack of connectivity is no longer an option if you want your product to make an impact. The formula is simple, take an ordinary product like a hairbrush or a trash can, add some sensors, an app and some internet monitoring capabilities and you have a winning formula to garner some headlines. Will many of these products make it? Not so sure but they are sure fun to watch.
The Car Electronics Show
This should be the new name in many people’s opinions. Auto manufacturers have been trying to steal the headlines from the techies for quite some time and they are succeeding. Manufacturers such as Ford, Chrysler, Toyota and Honda announced concepts and products at the show ahead of next week’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit. For them, it’s a good way to prime the pump and to invade fairly virgin territory ahead of the highly competitive show next week.
The battle for the new TV standard
UHD, HDR, LED, QLED, OLED are some of the terms being thrown around. The price of Organic Light-Emitting Diode TVs has gone down considerably and even though it will not reach the super low prices of their now old LED counterparts, these TVs promise to be thinner than ever and provide amazing contrast and color range, even better than the revered plasmas that have been out of production for a while. As far as resolution goes, HDR is the new golden boy of high resolution since the term seems to have caught on in the past year (You never know with these things). HDR means high dynamic range and it basically means a better range of colors and contrast. OTT providers such as Netflix and Amazon have embraced the term so goodbye HD, UHD and welcome HDR.
Everything is a drone
Add a few motors, lightweight materials and you can turn almost anything into a drone. The Hover Camera Passport is one of these nifty inventions. It’s basically the size of a small notebook, when you are ready to fly it, open the propeller covers like a book and voila, you have a portable 4k camera drone.
The smartization of dumb stuff
Yes, sensors are cheaper than ever and they are being placed into all kinds of devices – whether they need it or not. We’ve seen the trend over the past few years: a smart fork, a smart toothbrush. This year, we saw a smart hair brush, a trash can that listens to voice commands to open and a Wi-Fi enabled, cloud connected shower valve that controls pressure, temperature and can connect to other shower heads, sprayers and hand showers. Have we gone too far? The answer is short. YES!
In the end, CES is an acquired taste. It’s like that rare wine that you don’t necessarily know how to appreciate. It’s lots of walking, lots of looking at boring stuff to find the real gems of the show. Like the gold miners on TV, sometimes you find some good gold such as gadgets and inventions that make a real difference and sometimes you run all the dirt to find there are very few golden nuggets in your sluice box after walking the whole convention center. And then, as if we all had the memory of a goldfish or, perhaps salmon, we go back and do it again the next year. Long live CES!