The Wonderful World of CES

The following article is a guest blog by Katharine Greis. Katharine is Vice President of Business Development and Event Production at Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG). The opinions expressed within this article are her own and do not in any way reflect those of SMG, their affiliates or partners.

CES is a rap, people!

its-a-rap-snoopCES is a wrap and was a rap. Maybe it was the afterbounce of the Snoop D-O-double-G concert I attended on Tuesday night, but this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) flowed through the week like a lyrical journey. I think Snoop himself summed it up best with this: and I quote, “…with my mind on my money, and my money on my mind.”

Let’s face it folks: sure, CES is about technology, but it is also about determining the next big thing to burn a hole in your bank account and compete for your precious time. From mobile to machines to media it was all in Vegas, begging for attention.

I spent most of my time off of the show floor (the right way to do CES). However, I attended some amazing events and heard from folks like Brian Cooley of CNET, Palmer Luckey of Oculus Rift, Yahoo’s Chief Development Officer, Jacqueline Reses, NBC’s Bob Costas and many more amazing speakers.

Lots of great discussion and thought leadership were provided by each of these people including: “how to keep TV relevant,” “where mobile is headed,” and “what is hot today and will be tomorrow.” Each of these industry influencers helped guide me on my tour of the show floor, and in turn, I’m happy to present what I think are the coolest, neatest and most interesting things I saw at CES.

[In no particular order…]

Televisions

“Flat! Huge! Clear! But, where’s the mobile?” …was what I pondered amongst the sea of TVs. We know TV isn’t going anywhere in the immediate future, though it was surprising to see the continued emphasis on television technologies. Regardless, TVs pushed the limits of reality and picture clarity, 4K, 5K, 6K…as thin as your iPhone, curved, free-form and more. The picture quality was gorgeous, you felt like you could reach right into the screen and grab a Wonka Bar. Notable hype was paid to SHARP’s wraparound LCD screen and Super Slim 4K UltraHD LED. They looked like you were staring into another room where actors were performing just for you. You could almost smell those Food Network dishes!

Mobile

Samsung Edge

Samsung Note EdgeSamsung offered an awesome selection of mobile technology including my favorite, the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge. The curved screen allows you to receive information faster and attend to it quicker. With a large screen and amazing battery life, this may be my next upgrade. Oh, and don’t forget the upgraded S-Pen that acts like a mouse.

Wearables

We’re moving people, no time to sit, chat or dawdle, it’s go time. Wearables were certainly some of the most talked about technology at CES. From health, work and social media, it is being wedged into every part of our lives. To be honest, wearables were discussed more than they were shown. I think the best innovations are yet to come at future shows.

Lifestyle

Samsung Gear

The Samsung Gear is now connected. You can do pretty much anything on this wearable device, and for Samsung mobile users, this is certainly a must-have. For someone like me who’s throwing their phone around, constantly digging in a purse or laptop bag to find it, being able to have a wearable attached to my wrist is a necessity. Samsung has led the way in the space and I can’t wait to see where this evolves next.

BLOCKS

Intel BlocksTeam Blocks from Intel has introduced a smart watch concept that can be completely customized based on your needs. The watch is made up of multiple segments that connect via what looks like an audio jack. Each segment has a different purpose: heart monitor, a camera, screen and so on – each block has its own technology serving various purposes. This to me is the coolest wearable at CES. The idea of being able to create your own customized device is appealing to a gal like me. This gives so many other tech companies the ability to build unique modules based on a person’s lifestyle or need. The opportunities to build and expand upon this platform are endless. I’m sold.

Fitness/Health

Intel revealed a lot of great tech this year, but they had a nice feature on how to have a fully connected fitness experience. Being a bit fitness-obsessed myself, I really enjoyed the investment in the space. Two notable products:

SMS Audio BioSport In-Ear Headphones

Intel FitnessNo need for the chest strap, these headphones not only play your choice of tunes, but using an in-ear heart sensor track your heart rate and connects to your mobile device. You do not need to charge the headphones since the audio jack provides power on the go. Best of all, the headphones also track your progress using the RunKeeper App.

Basis Peak

Now you can monitor your sleep patterns and heart rate 24/7 to help create better habits. We all spend a lot of time trying to diagnose how much exercise and sleep we really need, we spend a lot of money at gyms and specialists but for $199, Intel will help you completely customize a healthy lifestyle that works for you.

Gaming Experience

Oculus Rift

Speaking of wearables, Oculus Rift was everywhere. Palmer Luckey, one of Forbes 30 under 30 and creator of Oculus Rift has certainly made a mark on the tech industry. Nearly all notable brands had Oculus Rift as part of their “booth”, giving people the opportunity to try out particular technologies in a [nearly] full-sensory experience. The lines to try out the ‘Rift were long. It is an amazing 360-degree view into virtual reality. It’s still looking a little 32-bit to me, but over the next few years, I think we’ll see a huge improvement in quality and capabilities. Where Oculus Rift is taking us, I’m not exactly sure; but it’s definitely going to be notable.

Man vs Machine… It’s getting creepy….

Oculus Rift allowed you to feel like you were a part of the machine, inside the game, experiencing the “other side.” But what was really weird was watching machines walk into our world. That’s right, you heard it here folks: Skynet became self aware at CES2015!

Spiders

Intel had some pretty amazing robotic spider-like machines, moving in sync, just like some kind of insect boy band. The technology is impressive, and for some reason, people were crowding around with wallets out ready to buy. I expect these little monster-pets to be in stores Christmas 2018, ready to terrorize children and adults of all ages.

Communication Android

I’m not sure if this android is creepy because we are able to create such life-like robots, or if I’ve watched  Prometheus too many times, but it’s amazing that we are getting this close to creating such life-like machines that can function in similar ways as humans do. I couldn’t quite make it through the entire performance because I started pondering: How did they get such life-like skin on the robot? (Cue the Silence of the Lambs flashback).

Celebrities

Nothing gets people more excited than meeting celebrities, and they were everywhere. Snoop, Shaq, Bob Costas were the ones on my list, but many, many others graced the presence of thousands. They were all there for a similar purpose: to entertain. However, some shared their point of views on where tech and media were headed. And of course, Snoop shared his POV on where the legalization of cannabis was headed, but I digress…

Regardless of their purpose, it is great to know that CES has this kind of importance for brands: to spend thousands…and for some, millions on bringing attendees a valuable and impactful technology experience. Getting people excited about what’s next sometimes takes more than just the tech itself, there’s so much to see and do, the glitter and glam of celebrity endorsement, well that’s the driver some brands need to stay top-of-mind. We’re all OK with it though…please, I got to shake both Judah Friedlander and Snoop’s hands…need I say more?

In conclusion, CES had a lot to offer attendees this year. There have been some astounding advances in consumer technology in recent years and I can’t wait to see what’s in store next year!

About Katharine Greis

Katharine GreisWith a background in marketing and business development, Katharine has over ten years of experience in helping her clients realize tangible value from their marketing and branding initiatives. Her creative solutions have connected consumers to some of the world’s largest and most respected brands.

Katharine began her career as a management consultant at Hewitt Associates solving complex business problems for clients such as Proctor & Gamble and Allstate. She later moved into sales, business development and marketing as Sales Manager for BBJ Linen, a national specialty linen company. Having worked on hundreds of large, successful events Katharine transitioned her passion to event management and experiential marketing. She accepted a position at agencyEA, a boutique experiential marketing agency, working with clients such as Microsoft, American Family Insurance and Publicis Groupe. Five-years later, Katharine took on a role of Director of Business Development for Jack Morton Worldwide, a global brand experience agency working with clients such as Bank of China, University of Michigan and PetSmart. During her time at Jack Morton, Katharine worked on numerous experiential marketing campaigns, always with an acute focus on achieving a real return on her clients’ marketing budgets.

Katharine has recently transitioned to a new role at Starcom MediaVest Group as Vice President, Business Development Director overseeing the production of all global new business pitches within the agency.

Katharine holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and International Business from Indiana University, Bloomington. Katharine and her husband, Justin, founded the “Ernst & Young, James E. Buckman Memorial Scholarship” in memory of Katharine’s father which focuses on helping students pursue higher education in business. Katharine serves on the Development Committee at Merit School of Music in Chicago and chaired the 2012 Merit School of Music Gala raising over $850,000 for the school’s music programs. In her free time, Katharine enjoys playing guitar and baking.

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