CES2018: Reflections and Looking Forward

After a few days’ rest and some time to digest my experiences at CES 2018 last week, one things for certain: we are moving at a consistent and fast pace into some pretty amazing times. And I’m not talking about robots. Well, maybe I am… as long as they do not call me “master”, because that’s just weird.

No, I’m talking about the convergence of technology advancements that are all happening at once. In previous years, many felt overhyped. But now I feel certain in my prediction that my kids won’t need to learn to drive a car. It’s like we are headed to a new point on the horizon. And it’s going to be glorious… well, and quite scary for some.

AI is the new data

Last year’s CES was overrun with sensors providing data and metrics. Now artificial intelligence is here to provide the big “so-what” to all that data. AI enabled was the term to use when talking about personalization for all manner of items ranging from sports to health to food. While AI is the underlying tech connecting all the items below, 5G is providing the bandwidth.

Everything is connected

Sensors, IoT, whatever… now my toilet is connected and my baby’s bottle is tracking feeding.

The connected home was in full swing at CES. And, as opposed to last year, “smartified” products told a more complete story. Of course to a hub/each other, but also to content services like how whirlpool partners with yummly or how a folding clothes machine wants to be your fashion expert. And how will we interact? While many of the appliances sported touch screens, the dominate interface was voice.

Voice is the Interface

Since Alexa boomed onto the CES stage last year, we’ve been talking about the emergence of the conversational interface. Well, it’s here. Prior to the show, there was tons of discussion about who would win? Alexa or Google Home…. Despite Google’s best effort, I still felt Alexa had the upper hand with integrations, shopping, and being embedded in household objects. But a greater feeling was how similar the situation was to iOS v Android and there’s room for both (maybe Bixtby as well?) to coexist. With the rise of voice, inevitable questions come up like how will it impact mobile usage (people will use mobile less) and what does it mean for brands (a voice driven world will be a game changer).

Autonomous vehicles are close

Yes. I know they are actually here. But they are getting closer to being a reality for me. And I can’t stop thinking about how it will impact delivery. It’s become easy to imagine my Amazon/Blue Apron/Pizza packages will be delivered by a self-piloted shipping pod (Dominos and Ford partnered to show a pizza test solution right out of a recent Black Mirror episode).

We aren’t getting enough rest

Last year, we weren’t drinking enough water. “High tech” water bottles were everywhere. This year, AI driven mediation, sleep, and rest technology was peppered throughout.

The evolution from “I bought it online” to “it’ll be here in 2 days” to “it’ll to here in 2 hours” is on the trajectory to “Ben, this is your future assistant. Just letting you know I saw you had a stressful day. Your kid will be home from practice on Pod XYZ in 45 minutes. She has not done her homework yet. I’ve warmed up the shower for you to relax in and have picked out the family dinner for the evening. The ingredients are in the fridge.”

Or maybe it won’t say that. It will just do those things as we move from convenience and personalization to prediction.

Written by: Ben Gauthier, TPN VP, Innovation + Technology

CES 2018: More Connected Than Ever

Another successful CES is wrapping up and it did not disappoint.

While there were no major announcements this year, the event truly wowed and delivered more of everything: more speed due to 5G, more screens that fit in every space imaginable, more content to view, more ways to capture images, more ways to power devices, more ways to connect the online and offline worlds, the ability to understand more about you and the ability to automate tasks, like driving, so you have MORE time to do meaningful things.

In 2017, the big news was connected everything and the rise of Alexa. This year was a coming out party for Voice command. Whether its Alexa, Google, Bixby, Cortana or Siri you can magically talk to almost everything now in order to get information, get things done without the touch of a finger and instantly buy.

There was not one tech introduction that felt incredibly breakthrough. But, there were definite improvements and builds on past developments. As a marketer (and as a mom), its exciting to see more technology for the connected life. ARTIFICIALLY intelligent things are truly going to change our lives—how we do things, how we communicate, how we shop/buy. And, it gives us as marketers more ways to constantly connect with consumers and move them to engage or buy brands. From connected fridges to speakers—the route to reach consumers is becoming more complex and we have to be mindful of communicating to both the machine and the consumer in meaningful ways. A few examples…

Kohler Konnect – More from your bathroom

KOHLER Konnect, a new platform and suite of smart fixtures that can interact with owners through voice commands, adapt to user preferences and collect data to provide valuable water usage feedback. “When people talk about smart homes, they always leave out the bathroom,” Kohler innovation practices director David Funk explained. “We wanted to bring tech into the bathroom. Now you can talk to the mirror and ask it anything you would ask of an assistant.”

Samsung – More from everyday living

Samsung will also double down on smart home technology this year, promising to bring connectivity seen in its popular Family Hub smart fridges to other machines around the home.

Samsung Electronics’ Family Hub Refrigerator offers “connected living” and is both a storage and communication device. With a built-in screen on its door, family members can leave messages, see what’s in the fridge while at the store, adjust the thermostat or even check on a sleeping baby in the next room.

Users will be able to direct their vacuum cleaners or query milk expiration dates with a voice command. Samsung’s SmartThings network will connect to devices from other manufacturers, including Ring’s video doorbell, Philips Hue lights, and Netgear security cameras.

Polaroid – More from your moment

Have digital photos left you longing for something more … tangible?

Retro Meets Modern at CES with the first immersive Polaroid Originals experience showcased in a colorful and creative exhibit. Meet the Polaroid OneStep 2 camera – an analog instant camera that is a proud successor to the original Polaroid OneStep camera that democratized instant photography 40 years ago. Polaroid instant digital products are the perfect blend of retro instant prints and modern digital camera technology.

Written By: Amy Lanzi, TPN Managing Director, New York

#CES2015 – Faster, Smarter – and connected.

 

The #CES2015 mission by the numbers: In 72 hours, you have to cover 2.2 Million square feet of exhibit floor, wade through over 3600 exhibitors, not to mention a record number of Kickstarter and Indiegogo startups. Oh, did I mention you get to do this with over 170,000 attendees?

Here a quick hit-list of trends for the coming year:

The Connected Home
This year the battle for the smart home continues as the big-time players with recent tech company acquisitions are gaining traction. We are starting to see more some fruits of their labor with even smarter appliances, smarter home devices such as Google’s “Works with NEST” initiative, or Samsung’s “SmarterThings” and Apple’s “Home Kit”.

Connected Cars with Self-Driving/Self Parking Functionality
As the automotive industry continues to squeeze more and more mobile tech into cars, we expect to see more integrated smart watch apps that help  automate tasks or act like a remote control of the car. New platforms to connect the car to the “smart-home” will be coming and, there may be some devices that leverage Apple CarPlay or Google’s Open Automotive Alliance that were announced earlier in 2014.

SmartPhone Accessories
Samsung and Apple don’t have anything big planned since they updated their flagship phones in 2014, but we expect to see some new smartphone accessories that extend the functionality of the smartphone. There continues to be innovation in new battery charging technology and new cases that offer more than just protection.

SmartWatches + Wearables + Fashion/Apparel
We think a lot of the smart watch tech innovation may be overshadowed with Apple’s Smartwatch looming on the horizon. While we’re sure see new and updated smart watches and possibly some cheaper ones, we don’t expect anything too revolutionary this cycle. However, this should lead to renewed innovation in Wearables, as we’ll have access to Apple’s new “HealthKit” platform. We expect to see smarter wearables that track and monitor more biometrics, well beyond sleep tracking and pedometers. Companies such as Adidas, New Balance and a few others are showing technology that moves away from the wrist to become integrated into the clothing, shoes and apparel.

3D Printing, Robots/Drones and VR.
These 3 categories continue to grow each year and, while they are still in their emerging stage, its always interesting to see what type of trajectory they have for the upcoming year. 3D printing may focus more on food, Robots + Drones will continue to get smarter and smaller. More personal drones with built-in cameras are debuting and VR looks to be on the horizon. Facebook, Sony, Samsung and Google are all working to become the dominant player for this specific category.

Smart TV’s Get Smarter, Faster and Better
Samsung is switching over all of its TV’s to their Tizen operating system which should make for a better experience for viewing, interacting and even shopping on TV. LG continues to evolve WebOS. This year, it looks like the big innovation is Quantum Dot, which basically brings better color quality to LCDs so they can compete better with OLED screens.

Cable TV’s Business Model is Under siege – 
Dish debuted their cheap $20/month Sling TV service allowing people to watch an assortment premium channels on major streaming devices (Roku, Xbox One, FireTV) -as well as on mobile devices (iOS/Android) with no contract. A few other interesting devices like Sony’s PlaystationVUE and the Channel+ DVR were at the show, these platforms combine the streaming of over the air channels with some premium subscription programming. As if this isn’t enough competition – Netflix is in the process of certifying even more smart TV’s – and all of the new connected TV’s have streaming capabilities.

CES 2014 Trends

ces2014

 

CES 2014 may have ended last week — but what I saw at this show will fuel my techno-geek dreams until CES 2015. This year’s show turned out to be the biggest one on record, with 3,200 exhibitors in over 2 Million square feet of exhibit space. The show floor was so big I logged 6.2 miles of walking in one day (thanks to my wearable tech band).

In comparison to CES 2013, CES 2014 wasn’t much in the way of truly innovative technology, I saw more evolutionary vs. revolutionary improvements to existing consumer electronics categories. That said, the show was still very impressive. Key trends to note:

  • Wearable technology has advanced. Sensors are cheaper, smarter, smaller and can track more types biometric data. This technology is being integrated into clothing, sports equipment and health monitoring systems. This presents new opportunities for pharmacies, retailers, health + wellness brands and insurance providers to partner with the manufacturers.
  • Smart TVs are getting smarter, more resolute (4K) and a little curvy. Personally, I think the curved TVs are more of a gimmick than an enhancement in viewing experience. However, these new TVs will offer new ways to integrate native advertising and the ability to make purchase decisions on items within the show programming. Allowing viewers to “shop the show” and buy items they see in the storyline. This may have a profound effect on the expectations of consumers’ shopping experiences.
  • Driverless cars are further out in the future — but near term, the connected car presents a whole new dynamic for consumers. New ecosystems for car-centric apps will begin to emerge. Agencies and brands will be able to create new ways to advertise to consumers who are on the go, on their shopping missions. For example, push-alerts to drivers that are in close proximity to a retail location, which can be informed by previous on-line purchases or search history.
  • Robots — offer both utility and entertainment. This is specific category is still in a nascent stage of development with several opportunities for growth. Some robots perform repetitive household tasks, act as therapeutic surrogates, perform elder care services, home security monitoring or as tireless sales associates.
  • 3d Printing continues its forward momentum, with newer more affordable scanning and printing devices launching this year – both for consumers and commercial use. Advances in 3d Printing goes beyond being able to create small plastic objects, spare parts, and shoes but now the technology can print food (chocolate) and ceramic items.
  • The rush by LG and Samsung to create the ultimate Smart home is quickly fueling creation of The internet of things. Smart fridges, washing machines, doorlocks, ovens, thermostats and even lightbulbs can not only be controlled by your smartphone, but they can also communicate with each other. This trend may also have a significant effect on consumer shopping behavior especially when key purchase decisions become automated as appliances have the ability to place orders directly to grocers, retailers for replenishment inventory.

Can Fitbits Be Fashionable?

Wearable technology brand, Fitbit, announced a partnership with designer Tory Burch at CES 2014. Items by the designer will include necklaces and wristbands that hold the Fitbit Flex – a product that launched in 2013 with the intention of providing consumers with a more stylish fitness tracker device.

Despite a lack of style among fitness tracking devices, the technology has surged in popularity in the last few years. The partnership between Fitbit and Tory Burch shows the prevalence of fitness technology and the potential it has to expand across multiple industries and brands.

Seen @ CES

Last week many of the finest and brightest in media and technology met up in Las Vegas for the Customer Electronics Show. What cool gadget will become next year’s “have to have” gift? Odds are it debuted at CES.
As screens, sensors and other technologies are becoming part of the mainstream retail experience, we use CES as a chance to see this stuff up close and personal. Our team of digital experts scours the convention floor, looking for new tools and technology that could benefit our clients. Of course there’s the “shiny new toy” factor, but out of 20,000 new products on display, there are a few that really can be game-changers for retailers and shopper alike.
 
After 3 exhausting days, covering 1.86 million square feet, these are the top ten findings from the TPN Digital Team. Drumroll please…
1. User-centric focus on ease of use, more natural user interfaces (voice, gesture and biometric interaction with devices).
2. Cloud-based user profiles accessed for real-time analysis of consumer behaviors to create personalization of user experiences.
3. Devices automatically talk to each other, making connections easy and content sharing seamless.
4. Connected wearable tech goes mainstream, e.g., health and wellness devices are integrating with home automation + security systems.
5. Mobile positioned as the main lifestyle hub, command and control device.
6. Automotive manufacturers adopting open source strategy to jump-start app stores for on-board platforms. 
7. Smart TV’s continue getting smarter, bigger and thinner, with more resolution. Features enhanced to support multi-screener behaviors.
8. Home appliances are more connected and function on “auto-pilot.” The Internet of “things” continues  to grow.
9. Cloud-based “Grid” gaming platforms will be very disruptive to the console gaming industry.
10. The premise of the movie “Terminator” is becoming a reality. Drones and robots are everywhere.
Keep following the blog for a deeper dive on some of these and how they will influence our thinking in 2013 and beyond.