As I walked the Consumer Electronics Show this past week in Las Vegas, I was struck by more than a few new products. Mind you, it’s hard not to be struck by something at CES, because there’s one of the most lavish displays of innovation and leading-edge gadgetry you’ll ever encounter.
This year, you might have literally been struck by something, since CES was swarmed with plenty of new aerial drones (even ones that fit on your wrist), and even automobiles: carmakers turned to CES this year as an avenue to show off how they’re integrating consumer-friendly electronics into their vehicles.
One pundit said that electronics-laden concept cars like the Mercedes-Benz F 015, the company’s vision of what an autonomously-driven car might be like, were “more smartphone than automobile.”
Is that a bad thing? Anyone who has to get around L.A. by car, as I do, loses a lot of productive time to L.A. traffic. I might not mind switching from driver to passenger, doing business or socializing (the Mercedes had four swiveling lounge seats – you can imagine a table accessory, too, good for sitting your laptop or serving up biscottis!) while my car chauffeurs me to the next appointment.
Wearables like the Child Angel bracelet may make people debate privacy concerns, but being able to track my kids on their way home from school, or knowing they’re where they’re supposed to be, just by checking my smartphone? For a mom, there’s no debate.
If your tykes are toddler-sized or smaller, there are wearables for them, too…like the Pacif-i, the “world’s first Bluetooth smart pacifier” that lets you monitor their temperature and location, and even tells you when it’s been misplaced.
We had a terrific time touring the Oculus display and experiencing the Oculus Rift virtual reality platform firsthand. It’s a truly mind-bending experience, and it’s easy to see how it’ll change gaming and marketing alike. Marketers are jumping to integrate VR into consumer experiences; a number of our clients in the entertainment category have been out in front on that, giving people truly immersive encounters with the worlds they’ve created on the screen in order to draw them into the theaters.
Who knows? The VR storytelling technologies they’re refining might someday replace the 2D or 3D projection formats we’re used to, allowing us to bury ourselves in virtual worlds. Brands will benefit from VR if these platforms achieve greater saturation. That’s the caution: there are always innovations that don’t catch hold exactly as predicted (hello, Google Glass?) so marketers need to figure out if there’s real, scalable ROI in a new technology.
There were scores of other products on display, but a few of them that grabbed our eye as marketers included…
- Logograb might be the death knell for QR codes, connecting connects mobile and mobile-using consumers with brands in a perfect, seamless way: using the app, people can “grab” a picture of a logo to simply be connected with whatever content, site or message a marketer defines, so tour own logo serves as portal to deeper engagement.
- Oovoo was another intriguing attendee, for two reasons: first, you’ve got to wonder what branding consultant came up with that name. Second, it’s a video messaging chat that integrates a face-mapping technology, so marketers who integrate Oovoo into their products or sites will be able to tell how consumers feel about their products, content and other points of interaction – turning their user base into a huge focus group!
- Sezam is a way-cool evolution of the concert/event wristband: it’s a smart wearable, only costing a few dollars, that allows ticketing, user tracking, at-event purchases or other transactions and data capture, and can be used with a full-service suite of event planning and execution apps and hardware, and which can plug into your email and eCRM efforts. B2B events have used e-badges with these functions, but they’re too dorky for a concert or festival event, unlike these sleek units.
CES 2015 was totally engrossing, especially for anyone who’s been a part of marketing for 25+ years. I can recall the days when “red reveals” and scratch-and-wins were a big deal, let alone this “Internet” everyone was crowing about. Remember those days?
Consumer technology is taking some giant steps, and this year’s CES was just a taste of what’s to come. I can’t wait to see what’s in store next, and put some of those innovations to use solving our clients’ engagement challenges.
In the meantime? Hey, kids…I’ve got some really cool bracelets for you to wear!