As the world’s largest exhibition of its kind, featuring tech brands both big and small, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the battlefront in terms of products and innovations, all vying for the attention of consumers, the media and the industry. Just a few stats to indicate the scale: 3,800 exhibitors, more than 2.47 million net sq. ft. of space and more than 170,000 industry professionals, of which 50,000 were from outside the USA. The reason why they all congregate in Las Vegas is to see the future being written in front of their very eyes.
While the conference is all about change and development, one constant about CES is that it remains the strongest indicator of what the consumer electronics industry will be focusing on over the next two to three years. In 2016, the focus was almost entirely on wearables, drones, self-driving and smart/connected cars, and VR sets.
Wearables, to most consumers, mean smartwatches and perhaps even Google Glass. At CES 2016, these were taken to a whole new level. Check out Intel’s Curie technology about a computer the size of a chip that can be fitted into pretty much anything to send out data in real time. One of Curie’s applications is smart clothes that change shape and form based on a person’s adrenaline level!
For the media industry, the opportunity with wearables still lies in data. New data touchpoints that have not been factored into any psychographic modeling yet enable us to dive deeper than ever into consumers’ behaviors and preferences in order to build experiences.
The number of companies now making drones is unbelievable. The range of types, forms and shapes is astonishing and only shows how large this market actually is. This validates a Business Insider article from May 2015 about how big the category is expected to get within the next 10 years.
While most drones perform similarly, the focus at CES this year was on drones that are easier to use by the average consumer. For the media industry, particularly in the content production side, drones have already had a major impact on how we shoot footage. They are a cheap and reliable way to get great shots while reducing production costs of creating on-the-go content and democratizing content production among the masses. Every production house, big or small, as well as both pro and amateur content creators, should and most probably will have one.
Self-driving and connected/smart cars
Car manufacturers have been investing heavily in smart cars and those that come as close to being self-driven as possible. Toyota, Kia and Ford, to name but a few, have showcased their vision and path to producing their versions of self-driving cars. Moving closer to the present, smart cars and car consoles have also undergone a lot of change. Car manufacturers like Audi and Toyota displayed their latest Android Auto/Apple’s CarPlay features or their own proprietary solution, wowing audiences with their dashboard mock-ups.
Our industry has always found a way to use the latest tech innovations. The question this poses is whether a self-driving car means that the “driver” can focus on targeted ads instead of driving, be it on their smart device or the car’s dashboard itself. If Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay are utilized for advertising, what potential opportunities lie there? Perhaps ads can be served based on GPS location or destination, facilitating the booking of hotel rooms and making of restaurant reservations while on the go. There seems to be many opportunities to geo-target travelers like never before.
Out of the four technologies mentioned here, this one is the closest to consumer retail points. Samsung’s Gear VR is already available in shops around you and HTC’s VIVE is coming out very soon. Companies left, right and center, both known and unknown, are jumping on the bandwagon and creating their own VR set that serves more industrial-focused purposes.
An example of this technology being used in the advertising context is this activation for Jumeirah. As VR headsets become common household items for gamers and content consumers (much like XBOX and PlayStation currently are), and as content moves more towards becoming experiential and immersive rather than static, advertisers will advance the quality and format used to match people’s expectations.
At OMD UAE, our innovation department is already set up to help clients move in that direction. Whether a brand outsources content production or does it in-house, it is certainly becoming a more integral component of the marketing mix and technological advancements will continue to propagate this.