CES Wrap Up

Take aways from the big show

Meetings are complete, smoldering socks have been retired to the laundry, and the flashing lights of Vegas are another memory. What should we learn from this year’s carnival?

CNET provides some basic takeaways, though most have been well covered. To review, here they are…

  1. Plant based foods can help reduce the resources required to raise cattle and feed the planet. Impossible Pork got good marks from those that tried. Did you know that pork is the most commonly consumer meat worldwide?
  2. Toyota’s Woven City will be a sustainable city built at the site of a former manufacturing plant near Mt. Fuji. Ordinary people can live at Woven City, but no drivers can be found there, as the city will feature driverless cars, smart homes and renewable energy. Time will tell if this living experiment will alter the course of city building.
  3. Sensors for life. Our bodies are quickly gaining as many gauges and dials as our cars, with devices such as Withings ScanWatch, and many other wearables, providing up to the second information about the health and performance of our bodies. If these devices will make for healthier lives is yet to be determined, but often awareness leads to action. 
  4. Foldable computers. It is too soon to know if foldable computers or foldable phones will change the form factors of the devices we use daily, however we can be assured that foldable digital signage will lead to bus seats, kiosks, countertops and hallways filled with streaming video displays that are wrapped around objects all around us, more than doubling the amount of streaming advertising content we see all the time.
  5. Tech looking less tech. UltraSenseSentons and Mui Lab are companies that are making technology controls and interfaces appear in ordinary places. Desktops, switches and surfaces are becoming smarter, providing a natural looking way to activate and control computers without having to use screen, mouse of switch. Holographics and sensors are overlaying keyboards on top of ordinary surfaces, making our experiences feel more natural.

And then there is Quibi, the new mobile only streaming service from Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, that has already raised over $1 billion to bring 8 minute or less videos to your mobile phone. The company “came out” at CES and is now waging its own private streaming battle in a unique format. All content is filmed in both portrait and landscape mode, providing two separate story perspectives that you can switch between on the fly. The company has lined up big talent to persuade users to pay between $5 (with ads) and $8 per month to watch these mobisodes.  The Verge


CES Insights

Day 1: cars, computers, avatars, faux pork

The most amazing carnival of light, sound, language, culture and vision has, once again, started in Las Vegas. CES is wonderful, dreadful, productive, superfluous, exciting and exhausting. It is a force of the industry, a bellweather of world economy and culture, and the central meeting point for a large percentage of the world’s business people. The annual question for participants and bystanders alike is, “What do I really need to know about CES this year?” Let me offer some assistance over the next few days.

Day 1 is complete and there is plenty to talk about…

Neon virtual humans. Neon is a company hatched from an R&D incubator of Samsung, called STAR. The company has developed human looking virtual assistants. These things are images on a screen, not 3D objects, with the capabilities to sound and act like humans, remembering what you talked about a few minutes ago. CNET

dis-rup-shun: So it appears that Neon has upped the game on chat bots. When we need technical support, or perhaps a restaurant reservation, we may be speaking to an attractive human looking image that remembers our preferences, the usual number in our party, or other personalized facts. Expect better and more pleasant customer support, and expect it to be harder to find a real person to speak with when we need to get to a decision maker. Some great applications are using Neons as teachers of virtual courses, like learning French. Neons may become bank tellers, acting pleasant while nearby machines dispense cash. My sympathies to the cold callers looking for decision makers at the corporate front desk.

Foldable computers. Many, including Dell and Lenovo, or showing a concept computer that is essentially a screen that folds and displays in many ways: a big continuous display, one screen is a keyboard while the other is a display, split screens that fold like a book with virtual pages. The manufacturers have created apps that tell Windows 10 how to use multiple displays. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Will this technology change the form factor of the laptop? Chances are unlikely that the laptop, which now for over 20 years has remained a clam shell, will change drastically. If a screen can function as a solid, productive keyboard, then we could be looking at a clam shell with two screens that can be twisted and turned based on the application. We could also expect that the back of the display is a screen, so people can watch our presentation on one side of the computer while we take notes on the other. This will take a while to evolve, but has interesting possibilities.

Sustainable electric vehicles: The auto section of CES is a show in itself, and Lyft autonomous cars are actually maneuvering through one of the most congested cities to ferry people to the event, but of note is Fisher’s “most sustainable SUV.” The electric SUV seeks to undercut Tesla and, at less than $38,000 with capacity to drive over 200 miles, it appears interesting. The attractive Fisker Ocean is supposed to be available at the end of 2021. The company boasts that its components are highly eco-friendly with full-length solar roof, recycled carpeting (from where?), a vegan interior textiles that are “eco-suede”, and rubber components made of byproducts of tire production.  CNET

dis-rup-shun: While credit for popularizing electric vehicles goes to Musk, Fisher may get the credit for making recycled materials important to car manufacturing. Re-using the massive amounts of discarded materials in manufacturing makes sense, and if it is a badge of honor to buy new things made of recycled parts, then we are all better off. Ford, GM, Toyota — look out for the eco-friendly manufacturing trend.

Impossible Pork is on the grill: The makers of the Impossible Burger, all plant substitute for meat are back at CES with a pork substitute. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Understanding that meat lovers will continue to be meat lovers, Impossible Sausage will enable us to continue our culinary habits while lowering our cholesterol and easing the burdens on the earth of raising and processing livestock. We will watch the market drivers for plant-based meat substitutes, and see if acceptance (assuming it occurs) will be based on health concerns or environmental responsibility. Given that SUVs are still the leading auto category sold in the U.S., early theories are that health concerns will be the market drivers for manufactured meats.