Our Top 5 Insights from CES. Chris, Jason, Jeremy, and Ray

From our perspective, iterative improvement and innovation was the theme of CES 2014. While many of the biggest platforms previously introduced at CES are now driving their own conferences (e.g., Apple or Mobile World), that doesn’t mean that this year’s CES was any smaller in terms of importance or scale –  in fact, auto now fills much of the void left by these two major vacancies. Overall, it was still exciting to see the numerous incremental improvements and, to some degree, validation of exciting technologies that were already on our radar. Notable examples this year included Mercedes, which delivered on integration with the now mature iteration of the Pebble watch, and CES winner Razor Nabu, a new better type of wearable. CES is certainly an indicator of market opportunity, and with the new number of wearables at CES 2014, it seems likely we can expect more wearables adoption by consumers.

Here are our top five examples of iterative improvement and innovation at CES 2014:

  1. Internet of everything. “Anything that can have a sensor, will have a sensor,” says Chris Bowler. And we saw a wide array of examples of this, from baby clothes providing important health data to the proximity sensor on your nest turning down the heat in your house when you leave for work. Cisco at CES imagined a fully networked future. Qualcomm, meanwhile, was driving the theme of context-driven interactions, which is really the strength of sensors and timing. Near-term implications: Some rumors include live kiosks across NYC with a geofenced/proximity based ad network. “This will move from reactive to predictive with passive experiences,” says Jeremy Lockhorn.

  2. Technology wearables and fitness. There were endless rows of wearable tech, some trying to get us more fit and better notified, with the best including the award-winning Razor Nabu wearable fitness band, Audi cars that track your health, and a xboxone that can derive your pulse from video. Near-term implications: The number of “me toos” here show that a lot of organizations think there is room to grow in the market.

  3. Smart TV and co-browsing: Operating systems are getting better and better in TVs, though it’s still anyone’s game as to what consumers will gravitate. LG’s web is clearly a big evolution driving contextual sports content or extrapolating show metadata to display relevant ads in real-time. With more and more time shifting and people skipping ads, this seems like a logical, but unfortunate step for non-cord cutters. Near-term implications: “Samsung’s Super Bowl ads will drive experiences synchronized with the content or it will be synchronized second screen experiences”, says Jason Goldberg.

  4. Device diversity: Tablets and laptops are increasingly looking the same – in some cases, we won’t be able to tell the difference between them. All the PCs are running windows 8 with new browser paradigms, like snap mode, etc., and smart TVs have different browsers with resolutions. Near-term implications:  With so many devices with different interations, we need a much cleverer system to publish across devices. Driving past responsive and adaptive design to more fluid publishing will be critical for the work we do at our clients.

  5. Auto tech: There was lots of news around the adoption of Android by Audi, GM, Audi, and Hyundai and the nearly formed Google and NVidia open automotive alliance. The vision is more than just Google Play apps in your infotainment, but also the connected vehicle. Imagine the car ahead of you slips on ice and warns your car to slow down ahead of the slippage. Near-term implications:  Take Mercedes’ announcement about integration with the new Pebble SteeI, for example. It won’t start your car, but it will warn you of upcoming hazards with a vibration, help you find your car in a parking lot, fuel status, etc.

Also of note:

  • This CES validated the power of Kickstarter and Indiegogo and their ability to drive real consumer success. There were 40 hardware devices funded by indiegogo and 30 current or completed Kickstarter projects.

  • Of course the next version of the amazing Occulus Rift had people blown away, now it supports motion with crisper imagery.

  • Things you might want to short from CES: The bluetooth toothbrush. Short the Bluetooth toothbrush and anything curved, but of course only time will tell.


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