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Initial Thoughts from CES 2015

In the world of trade shows, there is nothing bigger than the International Consumer Electronics Show. Last week, frogs from around the world joined 200,000 attendees in Las Vegas, Nevada to learn more about the future of connected automobiles, 3D Printing, drones, wearable technology, and more. Below, frog Daniel McCallum (Executive Strategy Director) highlights some quick takeaways from CES 2015.

Alejandro De La Cruz: What was new at CES 2015?

Daniel McCallum: There wasn’t really a blockbuster new category, but more of a maturation of the existing categories. Homes are a little smarter, drones a little more accurate, and robots a little more “human.” Things like quantified self and performance Wearables have not progressed as rapidly as I had expected; products are still largely tracking and reporting on a point basis, rather than synthesizing and generating lifestyle or wellness recommendations. And while fashion and Wearables are starting to move closer together, a lot of what was showing was one-dimensional in aesthetic. Withings really stands out as the exception here.

ADLC: CES is usually an overwhelmingly screen-saturated trade show. What was the dominant product or experience you saw this year?

DM: At times it felt like an automotive show. Mercedes provided the most inspiration here, with the luxury self-driving concept car. However, there were lots of announcements from the OEMs, and chipset players – like Nvidia – each jostling for ownership of these new connected platforms. Automotive definitely attracted the most buzz.

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ADLC: Did you see any unique partnerships?

DM: In particular in the smart home space, a more tangible recognition that the IoT and its numerous sub-components are ecosystems that require interoperability, and that partnerships will be required to truly deliver the customer promise of a smarter home. Work with Nest seems to have the momentum, and Lowes did a good job breaking things down into understandable components, centered around its Iris platform.

ADLC: What was the least impressive portion of your experience at the show?

DM: Why are there so many TVs? Why do we focus so much on such incremental advances?

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ADLC: In your opinion, any new gadgets without needs?

DM: As usual, an array of novel-but-probably-useless connected gadgets. My highlight was the connected toothbrush. What also was very clear was an absence of value proposition thinking from many of the exhibitors. One example of many was the terrabyte storage band – positioned as a mass market everyday wearable, but much more compelling when framed in a particular context, like adventure photography. A lot of the exhibitors could do a lot more to communicate their offering with reference to a genuine consumer need.

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ADLC: Any pleasant surprises?

DM: Dish launching Sling, effectively cutting its own cable with a slick OTT offering, including ESPN, at a compelling price point. The first of several exciting developments in the pay TV space this year.

ADLC: Who had the biggest presence?

DM: Humans. 170,000 of them. Samsung had the largest booth, more accurately defined as its own convention center. The chipset manufacturers (Intel, Qualcomm, Nvidia) also commanded a significant presence.

ADLC: Did anything else anything stand out?

DM: Eye trackers, mood sensors, gesture controllers and biometric authenticators all got sharper, more usable, more compelling. These feel ready to start to integrate into services and offer acceptable usability to become a credible input mode. In addition, 3D printing matured from novelty to application and it was great to see New Matter really stand out on the floor. Finally, there was a notable absence of hype around Glass this year.

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ADLC: Final thoughts?

DM: Why do technology conferences do such a bad job of demonstrating events’ technology solutions? Collecting the badge, ordering a taxi, navigating indoors, even getting on WiFi – all opportunities for next year to showcase more efficient solutions.

ADLC: Can you sum up CES 2015 in one word?

DM: Epic.

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