Impressions from #CES2014 day 1

We spent most of the day in South Hall, visiting booths for smart home, sensors, wearables, 3D printing, drones and smart objects. Belkin’s wemo exhibit was impressive – they seem the farthest along in offering a well organized set of connected devices for home applications. Word is Lowe’s and Staples have impressive set-ups so we’ll check those out tomorrow.

The Parrot drones were delightful – one type is like a cute little bug and the other is like a futuristic little plane. I bet these become wildly popular.

The most interesting development had to be represented by the 3D printing tech zone. Two years ago, 3D was a few booths hidden in the back and Maker Bot’s printer looked pretty bootleg, and was glitchy, to boot. Fast forward a mere two years and there are too many manufacturers and related suppliers to count and Maker Bot is now the slick grand daddy. Plus, the tech works and it’s now affordable for the home market. Great ready for 3D printed everything.

I shot the picture below at the beam exhibit – they have a really interesting product for telecommuters. Fans of the Good Wife will recognize it from one of the episodes. Through the device, I had a nice conversation with a beam staffer in Palo Alto – the tech really works!

The wearables were pretty much what you’d expect. Dozens and dozens of smart watches, some pretty nice and others pretty ugly. I kept thinking, where are you, Apple iWatch?

The fitness and digital health wearables are impressive, especially when the tech is paired in the context of a larger ecosystem – like a hospital room.

At the Piston console booth I had fun playing with the Oculus Rift headset until I got shot or zapped in the game and it really freaked me out. See my Facebook page for Tom’s Vine of the episode.

There were lots of sensor OEMs. If it has a physical presence, we can stick a sensor on it. Imagine the possibilities…

Tomorrow we hit Central Hall. Meanwhile, thanks to #SamsungCES for the invitation to rest our feet, snack, and blog in the comfort of their swank Samsung SMART Lounge. We’ll be back tomorrow. 🙂

Smart Home interesting but lacks integration

The Zigbee home automation booth had an interesting prototype hub about 6-12 months away. The challenge is to deliver simplicity and ease of use to the mass consumer market.

Z-Wave, a competitor, told us that one strategy is for alliance partners to lead with retail customers and hope
those pull in the end-user consumer interested in the “smart home.”

Intel’s immersive vision of the Internet of Things

At the Intel keynote, I LOVED the smart charging Bowl – throw all your devices in the bowl and it charges them. No plugs! Totally cool. Plus, the Smart Earbuds are a great idea. CEO Brian Krzanich did a great job showcasing Intel’s play in the Internet of Things. The smart onesie that quantifies baby’s vitals – powered by "Edison" a pentium computer the size of a thumb! – is perfect for helicopter parents.

Show opens tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Will we collapse under the weight of wearables? #ces2014

The new June smart bracelet is definitely cool and swank – who wants to get skin cancer? – but also who has an arm long enough (or a wallet big enough) for all these different single-purpose devices?

This Smart Bracelet That Measures Sun Exposure Is Gorgeous
http://mashable.com/2014/01/05/june-smart-bracelet/

Wheels up tomorrow a.m. for #CES 2014

CES 2014

CES 2014

Follow my adventures in consumer connectivity at profhoff.com or @profhoff. For the first time, even our badges will be connected with NFC technology.

There will be almost 400 3D printer exhibits, and dozens and dozens of exhibits featuring wearables, not to mention smart cars, smart drones, and smart homes!

Of course, the TVs will be huge and hi-res, and the screens will be bendable and self-repairing, but I think the real action will be in connected devices that make life easier and more interesting for consumers.

Can’t wait – Vegas, baby!

Is Social Media Becoming an Advertising Wasteland? #deathofsocialmedia

facebook sponsored storiesI’ve been wondering lately about the long-term viability of social media stalwarts like Facebook, Twitter and maybe even LinkedIn. Based on my research with Tom Novak, I think a strong case can be made that most people use these sites and apps to connect with others and to create and consume digital content. In the context of these experiences, ads are an interruption to the flow that characterizes the best of these experiences.

Let’s look at Facebook. In the early days, group pages, banner ads and sponsored links – being typical and familiar – were pretty unobtrusive. Easy to ignore and totally up to the consumer whether she would visit, join or click. Even as the advertising got more sophisticated with geodemo targeting of sidebar ads (penile size enhancements, anyone?), it was still pretty easy to go on about your digital life with a minimum of advertiser intrusion. Yet, by 2011, when “sponsored stories” were launched (really, mini-ads are now “stories?”), ads (along with “friends” activity related to those brands) started showing up in people’s news feeds if they happened to “like” a brand. This kind of targeted advertising has gotten much more sophisticated in the last few years, so that these “stories” (aka ads) show up in the user’s timeline, but now based on behavior both within and outside of Facebook and demographic profiling.

So where is this going? I remember using Facebook with a group of friends recently to discuss a sad event we had experienced, with a number of us increasingly angrily remarking that the unrequested and unwanted timeline ads had crossed the threshold from annoying to offensive. I don’t remember the ads, but I *do* remember it was Facebook that offended me.

Will Facebook collapse under the weight of its own advertising strategy?  The money is there, but what about the effectiveness?  As I prepare to teach my Integrated Marketing Communications class here at George Washington University this semester, I look forward to discussing this issue with my students.

WristRevolution at #CES2014

pebble-black_thumb[2]It was only a few years ago that Tom and I wandered around the fitness tech zone at CES. It was sparse, it was lonely, and people looked confused. CEOs worked hard to explain how a band you could wear on your arm, your pants, your bra, or your wrist could do some simple tracking and maybe improve your fitness level.

Fast forward to CES 2014, opening next week in Vegas, baby!, and now there’s a new TechZone just for that – WristRevolution – devoted entirely to nextgen wearables. Sensors! Apps! Internet connected!

This – and the “smart home” almost certainly mark the start of the consumer Internet of Things.