Cemetech has brought the T^3 conference to you for the past 3 years and now we've got (unofficially) CES! I had the wonderful surprise of attending the Consumer Electronics Tradeshow from January 6th through the 9th in Las Vegas while I was in town from the 1st to the 10th. I certainly went for my pleasure and experience but about half way through I figured I could turn this into an article for the site. Below are my observations and general takeaway from the convention; I am purposefully staying away form the big name vendors as they have plenty of coverage. Instead, I walked the booths of the smaller companies who have prototypes or complete products who are seeking funding, distribution and other obstacles. There was a lot on display and I walked out of there with flyers and pamphlets for lots of products. I have no intention of covering everything, instead I will cover what I personally find interesting as well as relevant to the Cemetech community.
There was a strong emphasis on the Internet of Things, also know as IoT, Smart Homes and Smart Appliances and Wearables + Fitness Trackers. There was also a lot of hoverboards, you know the ones I'm talking about. Okay, maybe not a lot, but there was a corner of the convention for mobility and almost every booth there was these things. All looked the same but from different "brands." There was also a mono-wheeled "hoverboard" booth that was raided by the U.S. Marshals so that was cool. Sadly, I did not witness it as I was at the Las Vegas Convention Center about a mile away.
The First day I was at The Sands Convention Center as my hotel was right down the street. It is a two story building with smaller booths on the first floor and bigger demonstrations on the second floor. The second day I was at the Las Vegas Convention Center where the bigger brands were like Sony, Samsung, Nvidia, Oculus and some auto companies. I got sick on the third day and opted to stay in the hotel and try my best to overcome my misfortune because on the fourth day we were checking out of the hotel so I wouldn't have the luxury of staying in bed. The fourth day I spent busing between The Sands and the LVCC getting more information from the companies I wanted to write up on.
It was great to experience where technology is headed. It's clear we are heralding the era of a socially connected and driven future brought on by everything from DIY to complete brand solutions for smart appliances, cars and, gadgets for the fabled "smart home". I think it's too early to adopt any particular smart home solution and instead will eagerly watch and follow the technology over the years. Hopefully by the time I purchase a house the companies behind the magic will create an open framework where it won't matter if your dish washer is a Samsung, your dryer is a LG, the fridge a Frigidair, your car a VW and, your cell an iPhone.
My only concern with the IoT and the Smart Home movement is the security/IP Camera service. Every maker I looked at during CES offered a subscription service. I want each home to be it's own personal cloud. I envision a server somewhere in the house to handle the smart home functions, to handle security. I don't mind subscriptions for monitoring but a subscription to store additional video footage is obscene. This is likely a personal qualm but I'd love to see companies offer smart home video surveillance that doesn't rely on the company for, at the very least, video storage.
I saw fridges that could keep track of what was inside (so long as you told it) and it could suggest recipes based on the food inside. Volkswagen had, in their booth, appliances ranging from fridges to thermostats and echoed a statement that mimic'd "Connected Home + Connected Car = Connected People."
My issue with CES is that is immensely huge and as a result likely missed lots of amazing presentations and booths. I got an e-mail after the show that had the statistic that there were more than 3,800 exhibitors across more than 2.47 million net sq. ft. of exhibit space. I walked a good deal of that. In fact, according to my phone I walked 31 miles last week where it was about 17 miles the week before. They did a good job of grouping similar booths together but after two days I felt like I'd seen everything. The app could have used some better planning tools; I was able to select booths and speeches I was interested in but that was it. It would have been great to get notifications that said "To make the 11:30 presentation you should leave now!" But there was none of that. The plus here was that the app had maps of the floors so I could find a vendor, the app would highlight it and I would be able to navigate myself to that vendor as I walked the floor, but it only worked if I was already in the building and on the appropriate level of the building. After the two days I really wanted to catch a few speeches but didn't know where they were or when I needed to leave. So I meandered until I got hungry and walked back to the hotel for food.
The bigger booths, like Qualcomm, utilized Beacon technology and pushed notifications to my phone such as "Welcome to Qualcomm!" as I neared their massive floor exhibit. I think it would have been cool to see these beacons used to introduce me to new areas. "Welcome to the 3D printing area!" or "Welcome to the 2 Wheel Scooter Copy Cat Section!"