CES Basics

  • January 5, 2016
  • Kim Mackley

What Happens in Vegas Gets Tweeted Live All Over the World
A quick overview to WTF everyone else is talking about

If you are alive this week and have any connection to the tech industry (or are just alive and on Twitter), you’ve probably noted the buzz and annual frenzied ramp up on social and digital outlets about the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), a behemoth of a trade show that takes place each year in Vegas, baby. INK is lucky enough to have had a presence at the show for many years now, where we represent some of our favorite clients and get our geek on walking the floor and gawking at the year’s bizarre bazaar of techiewares.

CES 101
CES is produced by the Consumer Technology Association (formerly the CEA). The CTA is a trade organization that represents over 2,000 members in the $285 billion consumer electronics industry. It is organized into divisions and councils such as Automotive, Health and Fitness, Video, Wireless, Startups, Retailer and many more. CTA is a fairly traditional trade organization that focuses on the usual things a trade association would – education, research, networking, and government lobbying power. CES is the marquee event of CTA, so as you can imagine with 2,000+members representing a couple of hundred billions in dollars – it’s a pretty big deal, y’all.

The show started in 1967 as a way for members to showcase their latest products; that’s almost 50 years of consumer tech greatness. You might remember ‘67 fondly as when The Doors released their first album. Over in the tech world the news was centered on NASA’s efforts of Apollo 1 and the Lunar Orbiter 3. It is pretty impressive to think that the world’s largest consumer tech event started just a few short years after the integrated circuit, before the PC was even scattered parts in a garage, and the latest home device in vogue was the smoke detector. Over the next 49 years the folks at CES have been dazzling crowds with the debut of some of the world’s most treasured products. Here are a few that made my “best of” list:

1981: Camcorders. Who doesn’t have miles of horribly grainy and bouncy footage from all of their mundane childhood events and trips? Camcorders were a big deal that revolutionized the way memories are kept (and made, quite frankly).

1981: It was a big year, the CD player also made its first public appearance, making exhausting family road trips tolerable ever since!

1996: DVDs. Oh DVD collection, how am I not able to throw you away, despite not owning a DVD player for the past five years? The invention and subsequent proliferation of DVDs collections were a social currency and status symbol in cheap home racks that has and will remain unmatched, imho.

2001: Microsoft Xbox. 2001 will forever be the year that I stopped seeing some of my college friends ever again. I wonder if they are still in room 406 of Scott Hall, underneath the platform bed with a tie-dye comforter set, still attached via 15 year old corded controllers?? Some of their futures were not so bright, so I don’t think this would be the worst thing that has ever happened. Thank you, Xbox.

2003: Blue-Ray & HD DVD. LOLOLOL.

2010: Tablets, Netbooks and Android Devices, oh my. We all got connected on multiple devices at once and have spent the last six years searching for a reliable wi-fi or the ever-elusive broadband signal.

2014: 3D printers. At first people were making models and little figures. Now we’re making jewelry, ears, and pizza. This is a technology that is only beginning to impact our lives. YOU CAN PRINT A PIZZA, PEOPLE!

A time-honored tradition of CES is to make predictions, spot trends, and make a personal list of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Tweeting from the show floor is a contact sport at this point. Everyone wants to be the first person to spot the next DVD or Google Glass or Belty (a belt that slims or expands to adjust to your waistline!). The initial coverage of attendees’ assessment can really make or break the adoption of a new product and the buzz from the show can vary widely, after all one man’s HDTV is another man’s Segway. From our pre-show prep to today’s touch down in Vegas, our INK team has already spotted a few trends that we’re looking forward to discovering and demo’ing for the rest of the week:

  • Virtual reality – could this be the year that this trend comes home in mass? VR is starting to make traction in and beyond the gaming industry.
  • Smart home – we’ve all enjoyed turning our lights on and off with Bluetooth on our phones for awhile now, but 2016 is ramping up to be the year that the IoT makes its biggest splash yet in the form of useful, simple, connected devices for our home.
  • Self driving cars – Google captured our mass imagination and much like drones, the tech industry won’t stop picking at this one until the dream becomes a reality.
  • Mobile accessories – accessories are long past just being a fancy case and the personal area network and all its wonders is becoming a reality, thanks to our good friends at Bluetooth.

See you at the party show
You’ll find most of us INKers chasing (respectfully, and with grace) media down to say a quick hello, at an occasional hotel bar (or four), roaming the aisles, and of course online in the Twittersphere! Give us a shout if you have found your favorite product this year or if you know of a secret restroom and/or charging station with no line.

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