Earlier this month the Consumer Technology Association hosted its 50th annual CES convention in Las Vegas. Coming out of the show 360i shares the major technologies and trends that marketers should be paying attention as we head into 2017. Full PDF report is available below.
Originally billed as the “Consumer Electronics Show” a half-century ago, the conference has grown beyond electronics to showcase the latest and greatest across the entire technology space. CES 2017 was the largest yet. It played host to 175,000 professionals and 3,800 exhibitors in nearly three million net square feet of space.
This year’s Eureka Park – the conference’s flagship startup destination – was a major hit. The space has grown significantly following its debut in 2012 and featured more startups this year – 600 in total – than all previous years combined. This growth can be attributed to startups leveraging the parts, sensors, and technologies that have been developed by their large, multi-national counterparts like Samsung, Intel, and LG. 360i offered tours of Eureka Park throughout the week, walking our client teams and senior leadership through our favorite new tech in the space.
To those who don’t have the opportunity to attend, or aren’t paying close attention to the show, CES might seem to be just a place for major brands to announce and show off their flashy new tech like robot home assistants, selfie-snapping drones, or wearables that literally shocks you towards better habits. But to the trained eye the real story of the conference is found in both the macro technology shifts and the consumer behavior trends driving innovations.
The Relationship Between Technology and Consumer Trends
There’s a symbiotic and circular relationship between technology and consumer trends. The development of an innovative product or service spurs consumer interest; that interest then solidifies into consumer adoption; and finally, that adoption inspires further innovations in the space. A simple example is found in the streaming video space. Initial innovation: YouTube was born and gained interest and adoption; YouTube’s growing number of users triggered Netflix to shift its business model towards streaming. New innovations: now as streaming users continue to grow we’re seeing additional innovations in the space, now including live-streams from your friends online through platforms like Periscope and Facebook Live. And yes, you guessed it, we can expect to see additional innovation in the streaming space for as long as consumer adoption continues.
Tech and Innovations
CES is one of the largest and most prolific conferences in the world; as such it’s a stage for some of the year’s biggest announcements in the technology space. There are three major innovation categories that we’ll highlight from the 2017 show, and equally important, our report will also explore the underlying technologies that are making their existence possible.
Voice Driven Computing— If there was ever a winner to be declared from CES 2017, Amazon’s two-year old Alexa was it. The voice activated assistant found its way into a slew of new digital devices that were debuted at this year’s conference. From cars to baby-monitors there was no shortage of Alexa-powered products. Voice driven computing has exploded in popularity, driven largely by advancements in software’s ability to accurately and quickly interpret human speech, omnipresent high-speed WiFi, and access to a variety of different sources of data.
The Merging of the Physical and Digital— This year’s conference saw a variety of products and services recently released that blurred the lines between physical and digital worlds. From VR peripherals that allow for custom experiences that emulate the real world, to hyper-specific wearables that monitor physical data in real-time, to mixed reality headsets that merge digital content with live and changing real-world environments. Major developments in this space are thanks to increasingly inexpensive and data-rich sensors, high-definition volumetric scanning of physical spaces, and advancements in rendered 3D graphics.
Artificial Intelligence— Though there was a significant amount of AI driven innovation at the show we anticipate this will be an even more talked about category throughout the year and at CES 2018. AI defined a number of interesting products including a wearable for helmets that detects collisions and contacts emergency services, computer vision technologies that can recognize, analyze and understand useful information from photos and video, and even lawn-care equipment that’s driven by AI. These are all built on the backs of the advancements in the fields of machine learning, predictive computer algorithms, and facilitated through the intelligent application of big data.
Trends and Consumer Behavior
Bringing Sensuality Back— Since its creation 50 years ago CES has focused primarily on the things we can see and hear. This year we saw a shift in that thinking as many companies engaged their consumer’s other three senses. Appeals to touch – using wood and fabric – were popular, and we even saw examples of smell being engaged from one auto manufacturer.
Systems Not Products— A variety of exhibitors at CES emphasized how their product or service fits into the growing systems their consumers are using. Ford showed its connected cars as a seamless extension of the modern smart home; Sony highlighted a fully voice-driven home theater, and startup SevenHugs wowed attendees with a universal remote for hundreds of smart home objects – from lights to speakers to thermostats.
Don’t Just Act, React— In recent years we’ve seen technology companies illustrate how consumers can interact with their tech in a variety of ways. This year we saw a surprising amount of products that went beyond interacting, and now are reacting to consumers. Driven by the rapid rise of artificial intelligence CES 2017 saw cars that converse with its driver, robots that react based on a user’s emotions, and even a desktop lamp that shines light wherever its owner moves.
Recent innovations from just the past five years – Uber, Airbnb, Snapchat, and many others – have shown that they don’t just drastically disrupt old behaviors, but that they also dramatically shift expectations. As marketers and advertisers, it’s our job to anticipate shifts in our consumer’s perception and behavior. One of the best ways to do so is by continually exploring new technologies and the emerging trends that come from them.
Questions to consider:
- How might your company take advantage of the exploding popularity of voice-driven computing? What’s the Alexa skill for your brand?
- How can you create a richer, more sensual context around your brand’s product or service?
- How can your organization find more ways to connect to other aspects of its consumers’ lives?
360i Contributors: Fitz Maro, Senior Innovation Strategist, Brad Alperin, SVP of Strategy, and Layne Harris, VP and Head of Innovation Technology.