Last month, I made my annual pilgrimage to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, NV, for an inside look at the minds of some of our world’s greatest innovators. I started attending CES with my dad in 2007. And if memory serves me, I have attended every year since, except for the year my first child was born. While I don’t work squarely in the consumer electronics business, each year software has become a bigger part of the conference.
For reference, the iPhone had not yet launched when I attended in 2007! There was no real concept of an “App Store” for purchasing software. We were still in the days of visiting an office supply store to buy a box with a CD and a license key certificate in it. Twitter had just launched in 2006, and LinkedIn was about 3 years old. The web was quite different in those days.
So what do I look for at CES?
Over the years, I have been at CES for some big announcements for products that are commonplace today. And I’ve also seen some that never stuck with consumers.
My focus is not specifically on which technologies make it and which don’t. Instead, I focus on the trends and creative thought process that goes into applying technologies to real world problems.
I’m not as interested in the bleeding edge technologies seeking a problem as I am the new applications of older technology to solve real problems efficiently. This year’s Charmin RollBot toilet paper delivery robot, for instance, is focused too narrowly on a relatively small problem. But The Miracle TimeCube Timer, on the other hand, uses basic electronics in an elegant solution to keeping meetings, chores, and other activities on pace.
With that said, I saw a number of creative applications of technology this year at CES.
My favorite was probably seeing voice technology creep its way into everyday devices. That excites me because it means that more devices are opening up their functionality for developers through an Application Programming Interface (API)! This enables connectivity between applications and devices.
For instance, having an Internet-connected oven I can preheat when I’m on my way home saves me time. Cameras inside a refrigerator may seem ridiculous. But being able to check what’s currently “in stock” at home is very helpful when you’re making a last-minute trip to the store. Now think about what it will be like when every item in the refrigerator has an NFC chip! Each chip is encoded with product information and a manufacturer date. Then a real time inventory of products in the refrigerator will enable applications to make recipe, shopping, and even health recommendations.
I also love simple products like the Echo Glow with only a multicolor light as its main user interface. I can think of plenty of uses for such a simple indicator kids can use.
I shared much of what interested me in a TIGER Talk at Innovate New Albany on January 24, 2020. Here are a few ways to get caught up on my talk:
- TIGER Talk Recap on the Innovate New Albany website
- Facebook Live stream of the talk
- Presentation slides with photos
Don’t get me wrong! I do get excited about whiz-bang technologies that have the potential to revolutionize industries if only they make it to market. I can hardly wait for the future of transportation. We’ll have autonomous driving vehicles communicating with each other thanks to 5G data in smart cities with connected street sensors. When I’m old, I know my healthcare will be very different from what it is today. I foresee a monthly pill I swallow to collect data about various systems. And with that, a companion mobile app will allow me to review the data and share it with my healthcare providers for further analysis.
Until that future is here, I guess I will settle for a toilet paper delivery robot.
I love conversations about how creative applications of technology can solve problems today. I welcome your thoughts about today’s best technology! And I’d love your questions about how your business’s biggest problems can be solved–or at least improved–with innovations available to us today. Please comment or email me to continue the conversation. I’ll be happy to buy coffee for anyone with a burning challenge!