The Consumer Electronics Show, or CES for short, is one of the world’s greatest celebrations of advancement in consumer technologies. Running throughout the week in Las Vegas, both the biggest players in tech and new startups alike have descended upon the conference to discuss and show off some of the biggest breakthroughs in tech throughout the past year.
While new tech is always exciting, each year presents its own challenge in separating hyped-up optimism from reliable use cases. But this time around, it seems that some technologies have graduated past the hype curve and are settling into proven, worthwhile use cases. Here are some of our highlights from CES 2019.
Fragmentation is the enemy of speed.
The Family Came Together
To kick off the conference, the faces of S4 Capital shared the stage for a panel session on the first day of the show. Sir Martin Sorrell was joined by Wesley ter Haar of MediaMonks and Peter Kim of MightyHive, bringing the whole S4 family together to discuss the ever-evolving landscape of storytelling in the digital age. The three discussed some of the biggest challenges for organizations, mainly the need for always-on creative and personalization as well as control of data required to deliver on those creative opportunities. On that latter point, Kim offered a solution.
“Fragmentation is the enemy of speed,” he said, “and we see the opportunity to unite the creative and media function in a way that hasn’t been done for decades.” It’s clear that it’s time to tear down the walls that lock away the data needed to provide a better experience to users and help brands in their media buys. And speaking to that need for personalizes data at a faster output, Sir Martin Sorrell identified the platform that will have perhaps the biggest impact in the next five years: voice.
Everything’s Getting a Voice
Just how important is voice, anyway? Take a look at the CES show floor and the answer is obvious: extremely. In the past year, Amazon has made a point to introduce its Alexa assistant to seemingly any and every device and appliance in the home. Kohler showed off its Alexa-controlled Numi toilet, which allows users to heat the seat, control lights or play ambient sounds via voice. If that signals anything, it’s that no space is off-limits.
Voice is turning homes into the new frontier for business.
Now Google, who has given its Google Assistant a heavy presence at this year’s show, is following Amazon’s example in unveiling its Google Assistant Connect platform. The tool enables developers to integrate the assistant into their own devices more easily, allowing for an entire home ecosystem of Assistant-enabled devices and inviting entirely new user contexts into the home.
Voice-enabled interfaces are “turning homes into the new frontier for business,” according to MediaMonks Innovation Director Geert Eichhorn. While AI has been ubiquitous in our lives for some time—controlling air traffic, recommending movies based on our view history and more—it’s this new humanization of AI that’s helping brands get their foot through users’ front doors.
AR and VR Continue to Show Promise
Voice isn’t the only hot interface at this year’s show. AR and VR also made an exciting splash—for example, HTC’s announcement of the Vive Cosmos, a virtual reality headset that promises to pair not just with PC’s but also smartphones as well, letting users take it on the go
Our Weber Pulse app reveals not only product features, but also how useful AR can be for retail.
At a panel titled “The Augmented Reality Experience,” Managing Director at MediaMonks LA Olivier Koelemij offered a few key insights and takeaways about AR for brands who want to take advantage of the tech, but don’t know where to begin. First, “Mildly branded, shareable filters like you see on Facebook and Snapchat have been really positive examples for the new types of advertising enabled by AR.” But most exciting to him were platforms like Google Playground, which enables users to create shareable AR content directly in their smartphone’s camera, opening up new types of interactions for users.
Pick the right reality for the right idea.
Whether your experience is the right fit for virtual reality, augmented reality or mixed reality depends on what you’re trying to achieve: AR selfie filters are great for letting users express themselves, though it can be a powerful tool for showing off how a product fits into users’ lives (for example, previewing how furniture looks in the home). VR, meanwhile, provides a great environment for storytelling and building empathy.
And that’s a wrap! CES never fails to disappoint, and there’s plenty to look forward to in the next year. While creative ideas like roll-up displays and flying cars take the imagination for a wild ride, the real theme of this year’s CES is the data that, when used effectively, lets organizations develop content and experiences in demand by their audience. We’re excited to watch—and continue to participate in—the industry’s evolving trajectory.
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