by Pete Deutschman, Chief Buddy
I love CES. There, I said it. I love it!
Apparently, I am not alone as more than 140,000 Geeks flooded Las Vegas for this year’s International Consumer Electronics show. I took special care Tuesday night to ensure that my Android cell phone, my Samsung Tablet (also Android) and my loyal Fujitsu Tablet PC were fully charged ready for the days ahead.
A quick read of last year’s blog post and you can see that I was less than enchanted by 2010’s focus on 3D. Between last January and now I lost (or my kids broke) 3 pairs of Oakley prescription glasses and 4 pairs of Oakley sunglasses (I only buy Oakley). I can only imagine how many 3D glasses I would have lost last year if I made the unfortunate investment into one of those over-rated displays. I sincerely hoped that this year’s lead story would be more founded on reality and not hype or sizzle. What I found was very exciting, especially for The Buddy Group and our big announcements coming in the next few weeks ahead. This year I have assembled my take on the top 5 take-away or souvenirs from my trip to the land of Geeks and honey (CES).
We arrived on Wednesday just in time for the 4th Annual Mashable awards. Of note were three awards presented for best mobile operating system (Android), best mobile game (Angry Birds) and best web video (Bed Intruder). While the ceremony left a lot to be desired (sorry Mashable) I would be remiss in sharing one of the best acceptance speeches by an overnight sensation of all time as Antoine Dodson talks about his fame and plans for internet domination after the video he was featured in reached 65 million YouTube views.
But enough about the parties, let’s talk tech!
Pete’s top “souvenirs” from the 2011 trip to VEGAS CES -
1) Connected TVs will change the way we search, see and store media!
Pretty much every major TV manufacturer is including the ability to connect your TV to the internet. Each brand has their own take, their own app store and their own challenges ahead. A few players have set out to create connected TV platforms (ROKU, Microsoft, Boxee, GoogleTV, Apple and of course ….WD TV Live Hub which is the only of the devices that boasts a 1 Terrabyte hard drive for storage of media locally). While all of these players are looking for ways to ink content deals in a new “non-cable” frontier, customers are left with confusion as to what the differences are and if they should “upgrade the TV” or buddy up their TV with a smart TV platform/box. But the vertical is growing…rapidly. I truly see this space today the same way I looked at mobile in early part of last decade (that was weird to say). The consumer experience is maturing very quickly and as the barriers to entry fall as a result of more standardization and defragmentation among players, so will the opportunity for brands to play in unique ways.
At The Buddy Group we are referring to it as “Connected 14”. Be sure to subscribe to our blog as we explore just exactly what Connected 14 is all about.
2) I say power, you say where?
One of my biggest frustrations with all the gadgets in my life is power. The hassle of charging, re-charging is only trumped by those damn cables I have to lug around the country or have strewn across my car. Well, one company has embraced the idea of wireless power and harnessed its potential into more than just recharging our devices. Wireless doesn’t just mean no-wires, as we saw power transferred over air up to 5 or so feet! As seen in this video, soon we will have wireless recharging available to us at all times, built into conference room tables, kitchen counters, garage floors (yes, Tesla was showing off their wireless rechargeable car solution). Some of the more creative examples of this technology were focused around inventory management and retail marketing. As seen in the video, the store would have product that lit up when on the shelf. Remove it and the box resumes its original state of cardboard and ink while the shelf tracks the inventory removal and alerts inventory management for replenishment. The same shelf also was able to heat up a can of soup during cold, busy periods (presumably just the cans that are “in the front row”). Lastly, they showed a coffeepot that brewed and stayed warm on the conference room table, sitting next to the laptop and phone….all recharging.
3) What would Moses say?
Tablets were everywhere. Small and large manufacturers were boasting their new tablet or eReader. This market is overly saturated and about to get worse . One player that really stood out to me was Blackberry. Their tablet is, ummm….nearly perfect. Not just form factor mind you, they have embraced the Adobe Air platform. This will allow for unbelievable flexibility, provide a very low barrier for developers to create amazing tools and apps and should prove to be a platform that breaks open mobile development opportunities far beyond that of Apple and their app framework. Yup, I said it…
4) Control in my hand and is my hand
Where in years past, focus was on accessing and viewing media, lots of innovation going on right now has to do with how we control our media. Smart remotes, wands (motion gesture controlled) have been limited to controlling just what is on the screen. For the first time we are starting to see our mobile and tablets become remotes as well. This opens up new ways to control our media locally, on TV or even allowing the device experience and TV experience to work together in new ways.
BUT, the most interesting and FUN evolution has been capitalized by Microsoft with their Kinect technology. This technology allows the user to move their hands, point or slide images or navigational elements on the screen. While people are primarily using and building games for this experience today, we at The Buddy Group are exploring with some clients the use of this technology for web-enabled experiences on the television. Not only will this be entertaining but it could create a whole new level of engagement for the brand on your TV.
5) Worst souvenir ever
This year, nearly everyone I spoke with who attended CES came back with some sort of cold/flu combination. By far, that is the worst souvenir ever and one I hope CES will work hard to remedy with some sort of technology. Maybe everyone wears branded rubber gloves and masks or is forced to load a GPS germ tracker on their smartphone? The CES ick as we call it, has now spread thru the family, infected Buddies who did not attend and forced us to watch just a bit more Judge Judy from the home sofa. Let’s hope we all recover quickly, this is going to be a great 2011 and I don’t want to miss one more day of it.