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Culture

CES 2020: 4 Days in the Desert

CES 2020: 4 Days in the Desert

Lauren McAndrews

Lauren McAndrews

January 14, 2020

Dispatches from CES 2020’s “Age of Experience”

Experience—that was front and center at this year’s CES more than any show before. From consumer brands exhibiting on the floor to the CMO’s talking about their apps, CES has truly transformed into the consumer experience show. 

Didn’t get a ticket to? Not to worry, the team at Havas Media Group NA has got you covered on all the future of technology has to offer. EVP of Strategy Bre Rossetti and VP of Digital Strategy Lauren McAndrews share their daily diaries of their time walking the show floor.

DAY 1: Entertainment (Gaming & eSports, AR, VR, etc.)

  • As a keynote speaker this year, Samsung declared CES 2020 as the “Age of Experience.” Welcoming us to a future where innovation turns everyday lives into playgrounds full of unforgettable experiences.
  • Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble, also recast CES as the consumer experience show—justifying the emergence of consumer brands like Oral B and Charmin on what was once a distinctly hardware-focused floor.
  • In this “Age of Experience,” entertainment is everywhere. It’s Amazon’s Fire TV in autonomous vehicles. It’s multi-screen mixed reality in Nreal headsets. It’s eSports shown on bezel-less Samsung screens.

GAMING: 

  • Remains one of the fastest-growing entertainment categories, fueled by tech developments (screens, connectivity speeds, hardware, etc.), as well as the recent rise in eSports popularity.
  • Tech and hardware play a big role in the gaming experience, which is why CES remains critical to the category.
  • Within it, the notable trends are: 5G offsets capacity issues and deepens the quality of the connection. Mixed Reality/VR/AR/Holograms and 8K screens are consistently bettering the quality of the experience. Haptics are blending physical touch with the digital experience of games, truly immersive and lifelike.

AUTO: 

  • Emphasis on ride-sharing in the smart-car space, whether on the ground or in the air. Think buses, helicopters…entire transportation systems. With autonomous ride-sharing, these vehicles transform into entertainment centers.
  • Hyundai released the latest within its Urban Air Mobility service, called PAV. PAV, in partnership with Uber, will be an electric air taxi. The ultimate objective of PAV, beyond reducing traffic on the roads, is to enable a personalized and customized experience while in transit. It could function as a coffeeshop or restaurant or provide alternative sources of entertainment based on desire.

TECHNOLOGY:

  • Samsung’s Sero—a screen that seamlessly rotates between vertical and horizontal. Unsurprisingly the new made-for-millennials (gen Z?) TV works with the Galaxy, but in a surprising twist, it’s also iPhone compatible. That’s a smart move from Samsung, who has already launched the TV in Korea (“Sero” means vertical in Korean) and is gearing up for US-based success when it becomes available in 2020. Forty percent of US smartphone users have an iPhone—a number that is even higher for those under 34.
  • Nreal—new mixed-reality glasses that fit like a pair of shades but offer users an overlay on top of the real world, where they can pin apps, watch movies, or conduct conference calls. Think Google Glass for the modern world.
  • VRLEO: A ready-to-go VR Arcade. Self-cleaning headsets, stand-alone terminals—this may be the future for waiting rooms, airports, and lobbies. The LA- and Shanghai-based company is offering a modern “arcade” that gives users an on-the-go taste of immersive gaming. VR was the golden child of many past CESs—promising a virtual future. Now that we’ve all taken a breath, we’ve realized that VR is the future of gaming: fully immersive, supercharged entertainment. One of the problems though is the hardware—the headsets are tethered by wires required to render complex images, and the clunky setups aren’t made for the average living room. This ready-to-go arcade could be the new access point for gamers.

DAY 2: Smart Everything (Home, Cities, Cars, Health/Fitness) 

SMART CITIES & CONNECTED CARS: 

From car manufacturers to tech giants, everyone imagined a connected future: 

  • Toyota announced that it plans to create a smart city in Japan where 2,000 citizens will live alongside robots and test autonomous vehicles.
  • Hyundai showcased the PA, an electric air taxi partnership with Uber, that would house personalized services in the sky.
  • LG imagined an autonomous ride-share that could be unlocked via facial recognition.

ROBOTS EVERYWHERE: 

Robots were front and center at CES—from UBTech’s Walker that can do your grocery shopping, to LG’s CLOi who can do the dishes and make coffee. Samsung got in on the action as well with Ballie, a ball-shaped robot that looks like a Roomba, relying on sound, sight, and motion and intended to be an at-home assistant in its later stage. 

This is clearly just the beginning—3.6M consumer robots shipped in the U.S. last year, with an expected 16 percent increase in 2020. 

SENSOR OVERLOAD: 

Everything is Wi-Fi enabled and smart at CES. Increasingly, the expectation is that our household gadgets, toys, and surroundings should respond to voice and connect to each other. 

  • We tend to think of wearables as watches and bands, but Amazfit, owned by Huami, announced the launch of a set of earbuds—PowerBuds—that can monitor your heart rate while you stream music. They also launched another version designed for sleeping—dubbed ZenBuds—that can block out noise and monitor your sleep patterns.
  • 2020 was also marked by Sex Tech—there were roughly a dozen sex-focused companies on display.
  • Moen launched a voice-enabled faucet that can automatically provide perfect temperature water and pressure when asked.

DAY 3: Computing (Hardware, Content Everywhere, Screens) 

SAMSUNG VERSUS LG: 

  • Samsung and LG are the two largest exhibitors in the Central Hall of the LVCC. Samsung’s exhibit is referred to as “Samsung City” and LG’s is “LG ThinQ.”
  • The two are in direct competition—not only in terms of product development and innovation, but they’re in a race to become entirely wireless companies (all the way down to the washer and dryer).
  • For every innovation that Samsung showcased at CES 2020, LG had a similar product on the floor as well.
  • While both showcasing 8K screens, Samsung promotes its QLED technology for color quality (emphasizing the brilliance of whites), whereas LG promotes OLED (emphasizing the darkness of blacks). These terms became CES buzzwords, and the jury is still out on which is better—and whether or not the differences are truly discernible to the eye.

Anecdotally, Vizio is launching their OLED screen for the U.S., which is important to advertisers because their data is prevalent in OTT/CTV ID solutions.

Highlights for Samsung include:

  • The Wall: TV screen built in a wall, minimal bezel for maximum screen size.
  • The Sero: Horizontal and vertical TV screen, enabling content to be viewed in either capacity which caters to Gen Z consumption habits (e.g., TikTok, YouTube, etc.). “Sero” means “vertical” in Korean. Also, art when off, TV when on. Serves multiple functions.
  • Foldable Galaxy Phone: From tablet to phone without screen break. Received negative reviews at launch, but they’ve been working to solve them. Released overseas in 5G and in the U.S. in 4G.
  • Ballie: Ball-shaped robot that looks like a combination between a Roomba and a tennis ball, relying on sound, sight, and motion. Intended to be an at-home assistant in its later stages, but in its nascency accomplishes very little.
  • SelfieType: An invisible AI-powered keyboard that uses the camera on a phone for detection, allowing you to type from anywhere.

 Highlights for LG include:

  • Rollable OLED TV: Rises from the ground up, but is a screen and not a projector.
  • ThinQ Fit Collection: Personalizes fashion, enhances style choices and is an opportunity for retail brands. Accurate body measurements and style data will inform personalized fit and style, like StitchFix
  • CLOi: LG’s robot, which serves as a kitchen aid. In addition to smart washing machines and refrigerators, CLOi technology will serve food, wash dishes, make coffee.

MARRIAGE OF HARDWARE AND CONTENT:

  • In past years at CES, there was a clear delineation between hardware and content innovations. But increasingly, these lines are blurring. The majority of hardware innovations on display were showcased alongside their content partnerships, such as Hulu, Netflix, and so on. For example, Lamborghini showcased its partnership with Amazon Alexa—the first manufactured smart car to be fully enabled by Amazon’s tech. It is evident that this trend is catering to the fact that consumers no longer want just the best hardware; it needs to come with the best content opportunities as well.

HARDWARE MEETS SOFTWARE (AND VISE VERSA):

  • Traditional hardware companies have entered the software space and vice versa. For example, Sony launched an electric car called Vision-S. They teamed up with Qualcomm, Bosch, and a few others to launch it with 33 sensors, but there is no official commercial roll out on the books. An impressive feat considering there has been speculation for a while that Apple or Google would enter the smart car space, and Sony did it first.

SCREENS, CONTINUED:

  • Screens extended beyond the obvious TV viewing environment, most prominently within the gaming space (e.g., virtual screens), as well as the autonomous vehicles space (e.g., screens in cars). The abundance of screens in these alternative environments will seek to increase productivity and entertainment for consumers, but from a marketing standpoint, they will give brands and advertisers increased opportunities to connect.

Some of these examples include:

  • Byton M-Byte: A smart-car manufacturer, and a direct competitor to Tesla. Within the car, there is a 48-inch screen wrapping the dash.
  • LG ThinQ: Autonomous ride-sharing shuttle fully equipped with screens, connected to major content players (Hulu, etc.).
  • VRLEO: A one-stop-shop for virtual-reality gaming, intended to modernize the arcade. In appearance, it looks like a digital OOH wall—equipped with a large screen, headset, and controls. Could eventually expand to other venues, such as airports, and be another brand touchpoint.

DAY 4: Mobility (Travel & Tourism, Connected & Self-Driving Cars, Drones, etc.) 

TRAVEL & TOURISM: 

The first year of Travel & Tourism as a category within CES led with a keynote talk from Delta’s CEO—all about the campaign for a better vacation! How can tech make travel less stressful, more enjoyable, and reliable? Delta’s focus is on enabling free Wi-Fi on all flights—something that has been long promised and never delivered. Or enhancing the functionality of the Delta app to serve as a digital concierge. Delta also announced a partnership with misapplied sciences to launch digital OOH boards in airports that can showcase “parallel reality”— personalized messages that run concurrently across boards based on individual people’s movement throughout the airport.

On the other hand, it’s:

  • AI to improve reliability, such as weather analysis to predict on-time or late departures in advance.
  • Robotic exoskeleton: wearable technology worn by employees, to boost physical capabilities and bolster their safety, such as when on-loading and off-loading up to 200 lbs of baggage.
  • Carnival had a presence as well, but no booth set-up. Delta was the primary driver for Travel & Tourism.

AUTONOMOUS RIDE-SHARING:

A major trend this year compared to last was the rise in ride-sharing. Hardware and software brands alike showcased autonomous buses, helicopters, and cars. This includes: Hyundai, Sony, Bosch, Mercedes-Benz, Lamborghini, Honda, Toyota, etc. Autonomous ride-sharing raises multiple questions:

  • What does the future look like? Will this eliminate car ownership? Or will groups of people share ownership?
  • Will car insurance be relevant?
  • With the time that’s given back by autonomous ride-sharing, does it increase consumer’s productivity? Or is it pure entertainment? Does this modify how we define modern?
  • Amazon, for the first time ever, had a booth within this space. It was focused on how Amazon’s tech is powering autonomous vehicles, whether through Alexa integration or Fire TV entertainment involvement. There’s a future where cars are entirely powered by Amazon Alexa. Turn the car on, turn the car off, buy gas, etc.

DRONES: 

  • This section sought to answer: how can drones help, not hurt, our planet? The future of drones will be to solve global problems that humans can’t, be it traffic, sustainability, hunger. More obviously, and in the shorter term, putting out wildfires or cleaning up the ocean. DJI, as the leading drone manufacturer, showcased their tech and sensors (Livox LiDAR sensors). This meant the conversation was about how to make drones more useful, regulated, and affordable.

Experience—that was front and center at this year’s CES more than any show before. From consumer brands exhibiting on the floor to the CMO’s talking about their apps, CES has truly transformed into the consumer experience show. 

Didn’t get a ticket to? Not to worry, the team at Havas Media Group NA has got you covered on all the future of technology has to offer. EVP of Strategy Bre Rossetti and VP of Digital Strategy Lauren McAndrews share their daily diaries of their time walking the show floor.

DAY 1: Entertainment (Gaming & eSports, AR, VR, etc.)

  • As a keynote speaker this year, Samsung declared CES 2020 as the “Age of Experience.” Welcoming us to a future where innovation turns everyday lives into playgrounds full of unforgettable experiences.
  • Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble, also recast CES as the consumer experience show—justifying the emergence of consumer brands like Oral B and Charmin on what was once a distinctly hardware-focused floor.
  • In this “Age of Experience,” entertainment is everywhere. It’s Amazon’s Fire TV in autonomous vehicles. It’s multi-screen mixed reality in Nreal headsets. It’s eSports shown on bezel-less Samsung screens.

GAMING: 

  • Remains one of the fastest-growing entertainment categories, fueled by tech developments (screens, connectivity speeds, hardware, etc.), as well as the recent rise in eSports popularity.
  • Tech and hardware play a big role in the gaming experience, which is why CES remains critical to the category.
  • Within it, the notable trends are: 5G offsets capacity issues and deepens the quality of the connection. Mixed Reality/VR/AR/Holograms and 8K screens are consistently bettering the quality of the experience. Haptics are blending physical touch with the digital experience of games, truly immersive and lifelike.

AUTO: 

  • Emphasis on ride-sharing in the smart-car space, whether on the ground or in the air. Think buses, helicopters…entire transportation systems. With autonomous ride-sharing, these vehicles transform into entertainment centers.
  • Hyundai released the latest within its Urban Air Mobility service, called PAV. PAV, in partnership with Uber, will be an electric air taxi. The ultimate objective of PAV, beyond reducing traffic on the roads, is to enable a personalized and customized experience while in transit. It could function as a coffeeshop or restaurant or provide alternative sources of entertainment based on desire.

TECHNOLOGY:

  • Samsung’s Sero—a screen that seamlessly rotates between vertical and horizontal. Unsurprisingly the new made-for-millennials (gen Z?) TV works with the Galaxy, but in a surprising twist, it’s also iPhone compatible. That’s a smart move from Samsung, who has already launched the TV in Korea (“Sero” means vertical in Korean) and is gearing up for US-based success when it becomes available in 2020. Forty percent of US smartphone users have an iPhone—a number that is even higher for those under 34.
  • Nreal—new mixed-reality glasses that fit like a pair of shades but offer users an overlay on top of the real world, where they can pin apps, watch movies, or conduct conference calls. Think Google Glass for the modern world.
  • VRLEO: A ready-to-go VR Arcade. Self-cleaning headsets, stand-alone terminals—this may be the future for waiting rooms, airports, and lobbies. The LA- and Shanghai-based company is offering a modern “arcade” that gives users an on-the-go taste of immersive gaming. VR was the golden child of many past CESs—promising a virtual future. Now that we’ve all taken a breath, we’ve realized that VR is the future of gaming: fully immersive, supercharged entertainment. One of the problems though is the hardware—the headsets are tethered by wires required to render complex images, and the clunky setups aren’t made for the average living room. This ready-to-go arcade could be the new access point for gamers.

DAY 2: Smart Everything (Home, Cities, Cars, Health/Fitness) 

SMART CITIES & CONNECTED CARS: 

From car manufacturers to tech giants, everyone imagined a connected future: 

  • Toyota announced that it plans to create a smart city in Japan where 2,000 citizens will live alongside robots and test autonomous vehicles.
  • Hyundai showcased the PA, an electric air taxi partnership with Uber, that would house personalized services in the sky.
  • LG imagined an autonomous ride-share that could be unlocked via facial recognition.

ROBOTS EVERYWHERE: 

Robots were front and center at CES—from UBTech’s Walker that can do your grocery shopping, to LG’s CLOi who can do the dishes and make coffee. Samsung got in on the action as well with Ballie, a ball-shaped robot that looks like a Roomba, relying on sound, sight, and motion and intended to be an at-home assistant in its later stage. 

This is clearly just the beginning—3.6M consumer robots shipped in the U.S. last year, with an expected 16 percent increase in 2020. 

SENSOR OVERLOAD: 

Everything is Wi-Fi enabled and smart at CES. Increasingly, the expectation is that our household gadgets, toys, and surroundings should respond to voice and connect to each other. 

  • We tend to think of wearables as watches and bands, but Amazfit, owned by Huami, announced the launch of a set of earbuds—PowerBuds—that can monitor your heart rate while you stream music. They also launched another version designed for sleeping—dubbed ZenBuds—that can block out noise and monitor your sleep patterns.
  • 2020 was also marked by Sex Tech—there were roughly a dozen sex-focused companies on display.
  • Moen launched a voice-enabled faucet that can automatically provide perfect temperature water and pressure when asked.

DAY 3: Computing (Hardware, Content Everywhere, Screens) 

SAMSUNG VERSUS LG: 

  • Samsung and LG are the two largest exhibitors in the Central Hall of the LVCC. Samsung’s exhibit is referred to as “Samsung City” and LG’s is “LG ThinQ.”
  • The two are in direct competition—not only in terms of product development and innovation, but they’re in a race to become entirely wireless companies (all the way down to the washer and dryer).
  • For every innovation that Samsung showcased at CES 2020, LG had a similar product on the floor as well.
  • While both showcasing 8K screens, Samsung promotes its QLED technology for color quality (emphasizing the brilliance of whites), whereas LG promotes OLED (emphasizing the darkness of blacks). These terms became CES buzzwords, and the jury is still out on which is better—and whether or not the differences are truly discernible to the eye.

Anecdotally, Vizio is launching their OLED screen for the U.S., which is important to advertisers because their data is prevalent in OTT/CTV ID solutions.

Highlights for Samsung include:

  • The Wall: TV screen built in a wall, minimal bezel for maximum screen size.
  • The Sero: Horizontal and vertical TV screen, enabling content to be viewed in either capacity which caters to Gen Z consumption habits (e.g., TikTok, YouTube, etc.). “Sero” means “vertical” in Korean. Also, art when off, TV when on. Serves multiple functions.
  • Foldable Galaxy Phone: From tablet to phone without screen break. Received negative reviews at launch, but they’ve been working to solve them. Released overseas in 5G and in the U.S. in 4G.
  • Ballie: Ball-shaped robot that looks like a combination between a Roomba and a tennis ball, relying on sound, sight, and motion. Intended to be an at-home assistant in its later stages, but in its nascency accomplishes very little.
  • SelfieType: An invisible AI-powered keyboard that uses the camera on a phone for detection, allowing you to type from anywhere.

 Highlights for LG include:

  • Rollable OLED TV: Rises from the ground up, but is a screen and not a projector.
  • ThinQ Fit Collection: Personalizes fashion, enhances style choices and is an opportunity for retail brands. Accurate body measurements and style data will inform personalized fit and style, like StitchFix
  • CLOi: LG’s robot, which serves as a kitchen aid. In addition to smart washing machines and refrigerators, CLOi technology will serve food, wash dishes, make coffee.

MARRIAGE OF HARDWARE AND CONTENT:

  • In past years at CES, there was a clear delineation between hardware and content innovations. But increasingly, these lines are blurring. The majority of hardware innovations on display were showcased alongside their content partnerships, such as Hulu, Netflix, and so on. For example, Lamborghini showcased its partnership with Amazon Alexa—the first manufactured smart car to be fully enabled by Amazon’s tech. It is evident that this trend is catering to the fact that consumers no longer want just the best hardware; it needs to come with the best content opportunities as well.

HARDWARE MEETS SOFTWARE (AND VISE VERSA):

  • Traditional hardware companies have entered the software space and vice versa. For example, Sony launched an electric car called Vision-S. They teamed up with Qualcomm, Bosch, and a few others to launch it with 33 sensors, but there is no official commercial roll out on the books. An impressive feat considering there has been speculation for a while that Apple or Google would enter the smart car space, and Sony did it first.

SCREENS, CONTINUED:

  • Screens extended beyond the obvious TV viewing environment, most prominently within the gaming space (e.g., virtual screens), as well as the autonomous vehicles space (e.g., screens in cars). The abundance of screens in these alternative environments will seek to increase productivity and entertainment for consumers, but from a marketing standpoint, they will give brands and advertisers increased opportunities to connect.

Some of these examples include:

  • Byton M-Byte: A smart-car manufacturer, and a direct competitor to Tesla. Within the car, there is a 48-inch screen wrapping the dash.
  • LG ThinQ: Autonomous ride-sharing shuttle fully equipped with screens, connected to major content players (Hulu, etc.).
  • VRLEO: A one-stop-shop for virtual-reality gaming, intended to modernize the arcade. In appearance, it looks like a digital OOH wall—equipped with a large screen, headset, and controls. Could eventually expand to other venues, such as airports, and be another brand touchpoint.

DAY 4: Mobility (Travel & Tourism, Connected & Self-Driving Cars, Drones, etc.) 

TRAVEL & TOURISM: 

The first year of Travel & Tourism as a category within CES led with a keynote talk from Delta’s CEO—all about the campaign for a better vacation! How can tech make travel less stressful, more enjoyable, and reliable? Delta’s focus is on enabling free Wi-Fi on all flights—something that has been long promised and never delivered. Or enhancing the functionality of the Delta app to serve as a digital concierge. Delta also announced a partnership with misapplied sciences to launch digital OOH boards in airports that can showcase “parallel reality”— personalized messages that run concurrently across boards based on individual people’s movement throughout the airport.

On the other hand, it’s:

  • AI to improve reliability, such as weather analysis to predict on-time or late departures in advance.
  • Robotic exoskeleton: wearable technology worn by employees, to boost physical capabilities and bolster their safety, such as when on-loading and off-loading up to 200 lbs of baggage.
  • Carnival had a presence as well, but no booth set-up. Delta was the primary driver for Travel & Tourism.

AUTONOMOUS RIDE-SHARING:

A major trend this year compared to last was the rise in ride-sharing. Hardware and software brands alike showcased autonomous buses, helicopters, and cars. This includes: Hyundai, Sony, Bosch, Mercedes-Benz, Lamborghini, Honda, Toyota, etc. Autonomous ride-sharing raises multiple questions:

  • What does the future look like? Will this eliminate car ownership? Or will groups of people share ownership?
  • Will car insurance be relevant?
  • With the time that’s given back by autonomous ride-sharing, does it increase consumer’s productivity? Or is it pure entertainment? Does this modify how we define modern?
  • Amazon, for the first time ever, had a booth within this space. It was focused on how Amazon’s tech is powering autonomous vehicles, whether through Alexa integration or Fire TV entertainment involvement. There’s a future where cars are entirely powered by Amazon Alexa. Turn the car on, turn the car off, buy gas, etc.

DRONES: 

  • This section sought to answer: how can drones help, not hurt, our planet? The future of drones will be to solve global problems that humans can’t, be it traffic, sustainability, hunger. More obviously, and in the shorter term, putting out wildfires or cleaning up the ocean. DJI, as the leading drone manufacturer, showcased their tech and sensors (Livox LiDAR sensors). This meant the conversation was about how to make drones more useful, regulated, and affordable.

Lauren McAndrews is VP of Strategy and Investment at Havas Media. She is passionate about traveling and finding the world's best cheeseburger.

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