CES is 50 years old! It’s come a long way since the first show in 1967 in New York City. Then, 17,000 attendees came to see the “new” electronic products displayed by 117 exhibitors such as small screen, black-and-white TV’s, transistor radios and stereo record players. In 1967, nothing on display was connected to the internet.
Today, CES is a global show, testing even the capacity of sprawling Las Vegas. CES 2017 has 165,000 attendees and 3,800 exhibitors from 150 countries using 2.5 million square feet of floor space. Just about everything on display is wirelessly connected to the internet, regularly referred to hear as “connectivity” or the Internet of Things. The connectivity concept has already given us smart homes and smart buildings. Connectivity will extend to smart cities and smart industries and will become personalized as these connected devices become more intelligent.
There is an excellent lineup of keynote speakers, including the CEOs of Nissan, Qualcomm and Under Armour. Arnold Donald, the CEO of Carnival Corporation, on Thursday described and displayed the ocean medallion, a Bluetooth device the size of a quarter that can be worn or carried in your pocket. It will be offered to cruise ship passengers to replace on-board use of tickets, wallets, and keys. (Kevin Plank’s keynote was scheduled for Friday afternoon; I plan to attend and write about the talk in my next post.)
There are three major venues — Tech East, Tech West and Tech South – and you could spend all day at each. Tech East is the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Westgate Hotel, where products and services relating to virtual and augmented reality, personal and cybersecurity, drones, and self-driving technology are concentrated. Tech West is the Sands Expo, the Venetian and the Palazzo, featuring 3-D printing, fitness and health, sensors, smart homes, robotics and baby tech. Tech South is the ARIA, which hosts “C Space” for creative advertisers, brand marketers and entertainment content producers and distributors. More 100 conference sessions on a wide range of technology topics are held at CES 2017 throughout all the venues.
Ten major automobile manufacturers are displaying new vehicle technologies – Audi, BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagon. GM is missing, although it has displayed its products at CES in previous years. Most of these exhibitors give actual demonstrations of a car using their driving technologies. Nuance Communications introduced a new voice-recognition software for automobiles called Dragon Drive that combines voice recognition and artificial intelligence.
About 600 small startup businesses display their products and technologies at the “Eureka Park” exhibition in Sands Expo. Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association which sponsors CES, calls startups the heart and soul of innovation. Many of the startup companies are from overseas, including France, China, Ukraine, Netherlands and Israel. At Eureka Park, I tested prototype wireless VR goggles made by MeWoo, a Beijing startup that also produces its own Magical World video content; saw new holographic technology from Kino-mo, a London startup that produces holograms moving about in thin air; and examined Q.RAD, a computing heater made by Qarnot, a French startup, that uses embedded microprocessors as a heat source.
Finally, the U.S. International Trade Commission is present at CES 2017 dispensing export advice and opportunities at the Convention Center, and the United State Postal Service is present promoting new shipping and direct-mail options. Innovation is catching and spreading at CES 2017.