With the event officially over as of yesterday, and given that it’s my first CES ever, I’d like to share my impressions and overall findings here, perhaps to reflect back on them down the line and have a reference point to what I thought of as the most important upcoming shifts in the technology world.
There were more refrigerators than PC’s on Display!
If anything screams the end of the PC era it won’t be louder than CES. Not a single major PC manufacturer exhibited, no Dell, HP, Lenovo. I saw far more refrigerators and dishwashers there.
People are competing on the marketing front now, think commoditization
CES was clearly about an industry going through mass commoditization, differentiation on innovation was scarce, most companies competed on design, color, marketing muscle. This is a clear indicator for the lack of innovation and regression to industry norms. Even the coolest ideas there were more about conveniences that would be nice to have at most like a USB stick that doubles as a AA battery or a robotic drink mixer.
Another place I saw this was during the key notes from NetFlex and Youtube. Both organizations were highlighting their original content. They brought in actors on the main stage, and announced new shows. Nothing about technology was mentioned except for higher resolution perhaps.
The future is full of drones and people with goggles on their heads
The first personal drone was on display, many companies were showing off more of the same stuff around drones, but it was a big section indicating the level of interest. Regulators were also exhibiting, perhaps indicating the need for regulation in this space as it goes main stream to transport goods, deliver medical supplies, monitor facilities, and even transport people very soon. VR and augmented reality was also a big section. I feel like VR will become a main force in the future however not just yet. The goggles are heavy and bulky, the views are still a bit distorted, the software still lags behind desktop. I think it still needs a couple of generations more before it becomes compact and agile enough for everyday use.
The innovation that did come up was behind CES
Its no longer about the stuff on display, it’s about what’s behind it that makes it run better. IBM keynote was all about that, at first I thought, whats IBM doing here!
But once IBM CEO started explaining it all made sense. The intelligence IBM is building to make consumer robots smarter or sportswear more aware is IBM’s part of the story. Cloud intelligence and power delivering more intelligent things at home.
Which takes me to the next point, IoT, which was also there, Samsung made that very clear. the real technological competition is there as Samsung gave a subtle hint as to what we should expect. On the stage with Samsung were Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, Ascott, and BMW. This cross industry collaboration on building IoT platforms where all the different things from the different industries start to work together is massive.
One interesting idea that I ran into was by a startup that building intelligent UPS systems for consumers, once plugged into the home, this UPS gets connected to the internet and depending on electricity rates would optimize charge and discharge times, so what electricity is expensive, it would discharge and feed the house with battery power and vice versa. This is a great example of how the backend is making the dumb front end smart.
Some technologies are changing perspectives
Two examples I saw there, the first was with VR impact on creative production, VR is changing the perception of production, from one camera pointing at an event, in effect the viewer observing the event, to the observer as part of the event. Google made a VR movie where every viewer would have a completely personalized experience of the movie depending on where they moved around during the story.
The second example was with medical care perception. With medical wearables hitting mainstream, health monitoring is going real time anywhere, from tests carried out every so often at the hospital, think of ECG for example, today most people go to the hospital to get one done every so often, with wearable ECG doctors monitor heal real time, all the time.
Initially I thought I may have wasted time attending CES, after all I’m in the enterprise side of technology, but upon further reflection I began to at least have a sense of where technology as a whole is moving. My updated understanding is that its moving towards art, towards design, and towards convenience. At the start of the event I attended a session by seasoned CES speaker who I quote here “we are witnessing a shift from what’s technically possible to what’s technically meaningful “