Editor’s Note: An ARF Report by Christopher Bacon, EVP Research Quality & Innovation
CES is massive with an estimated 3,900 exhibitors. But despite all the hustle a couple of themes stood out:
Everything will soon be connected. All the electronics manufacturers demonstrated how they were linking together everything in your house through voice-activated devices. You can turn on the lights, brew the coffee, make toast, read (or listen to) your emails/posts/tweets, watch morning news reports all by simple commands to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. And if you’re too sleepy to talk, you can turn on your 148″ screen on the wall and touch all the devices you want to activate.
Driver not required. Nearly every major automotive company had a car on the CES floor and every one of them had some form of autonomous driving capability. There’s more emphasis on the experience inside the car since there’s less effort required to actually maneuver the machine from point A to point B.
Consumers control content and distribution. Speaker after speaker emphasized that the consumer is at the center of everything they do, be it original content, “shoulder” content—the add-ons to create 360 engagement and allow consumers to immerse in the experience—or means of access. Marketers talked about the importance of brand storytelling to inspire consumer “fans”, taking brand loyalty to the next level of consumer demand. But “fandom” may not be relevant in all industries. Marketers consistently spotlighted how technology is helping to create consumer experiences to drive growth and build brand loyalty.
While CES showcases the potential of what can be, we had some reminders of what’s required to make the future a reality, e.g. the infrastructure has to be in place for all this technology to work. The irony wasn’t lost on anyone that the lights went out for more than 2 hours on the convention floor. Technology won’t work without reliable power, high-speed internet access, and rules of the road. The question is, Who’s going to provide this?
Also, while VR and AR abound, they were still relegated to games and entertainment. There were still long lines of people waiting to take the VR roller coaster ride or big-game safari. But there weren’t many examples of VR and AR being integrated into everyday experiences.
Finally, the juxtaposition of the 148″ television screen with the 6″ mobile screen questioned whether bigger is always better. Will a larger screen encourage more attention or just become more expensive wallpaper?