So what can we learn from Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2016 apart from the fact that as tech savvy as we are we can’t seem to figure out recycling? Well here are some of the highlights from CES 2016 if you didn’t make it out there.
The first trend was that there was nothing that new or game changing at CES this year. A number of the products we saw were at CES 2015 and were simply just updates or improvements at this year’s event. In fact CES 2016 almost went back in time with retro products like: the KODAK 8mm video camera, the Polaroid Snap camera and Panasonic’s Technics Grand Class SL-1200 GAE turn table. What was noticeable about these products were that they were all beautifully designed and took what was great about the 80s and combined it with the modern digital world. A possible takeaway for marketers would be: don’t throw the baby out with the bath water but be prepared to innovate – that way you at least look retro rather than dated.
Despite there being nothing new, one key focus of CES 2016 was drones. There were drones everywhere, ranging from the Yuneec Typhoon H with Intel’s RealSense technology, making it virtually un-crashable, to the Parrot Disco Drone, which flies as soon as you shake it and throw it in the air. The one big surprise in the drone market was Ehang’s driverless drone. While everyone else is going smaller Ehang went bigger with a drone that you can actually sit in. Just hit your destination on the map and the drone will take you there, as long as it’s under 20 mins flight time as that’s how long the battery lasts. Aviation authority issues aside this could be the future of autonomous travel. Not a huge amount for marketers to do here but the more intrepid marketer might consider creating features for drones that users can download. Maybe Volvo might create tech to make a drone the safest flying machine out there or Rolls Royce could supply an engine that can get your drone up to astounding speeds.
The other point to note is the Internet of Things (IoT), which has become a staple of CES. Samsung and LG made big plays into the smart fridge market meaning fridges that order milk for us when we run out might actually happen. The exciting aspect is less the technology itself that saw smart spoons, vases and even a rubber duck launch at CES this year but the software behind it. Open source seems to be word of the day with Google and LG partnering over the belief that all products, regardless of make and manufacturer, should be able to ‘talk’ to each other. This is a view shared by many others, but whether that will result in a VHS vs Betamax battle with Amazon also playing in this space through its Echo product and Panasonic through Ora, or all three playing nice and syncing their software, remains to be seen.
For marketers this may mean an easy solution to advertise or acquire data through IoT products or it may result in having to pay premium prices for the privilege. Either way brands need to start playing in the IoT space with their products or be left behind.
Finally Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) made a bit of a push this year. Carl Zeiss launched a pair of augmented reality glasses that actually look good on rather than making you look like a ‘Glass-hole’. Garmin went one further with its Varia Vision that you can clip on to your existing sunglasses and Daqri showcased its smart helmet that allows electricians and construction workers to get real-time information about the job there are working on. Samsung also presented its first 360deg camera as did 360fly. Both cameras allow users to create automatically stitched footage, which can be shown through VR goggles or your smartphone. This is an inexpensive way for consumers, and marketers, to create really immersive content.
Alongside these trends and tech there were many other notable products that people could see and try out at CES. There was LG’s incredible 4k TV, Identilock’s smart gunlock to improve gun safety, and the Xiamo Ninebot that is a cross between a Segway and an artificially intelligent robot. I could go on listing all the weird and wonderful products but there are plenty of articles on them. Instead I just want to reiterate to marketers that if CES 2016 proved anything it’s that we need to keep one eye on the future whilst keeping the other on what made our products and services great in the first place. Do that and you can’t go far wrong this year.