I attended my first Consumer Electronics Show this week, in Las Vegas. My VC dad convinced me to come along, since I had raved about attending SXSW before and he said that this event was far better for actually finding new cutting edge technology. True that, but it’s also a very different vibe, with almost all corporate people there to represent their company and wander the miles of booths, as opposed to SXSW’s younger, hipper audience. Although celebrities like Tiesto and 50 Cent were here, they’re just doing meet and greets for speak companies.
But it was still a worthy experience if nothing else. It’s pretty crazy to see how much conference space there is hidden in Las Vegas, and the majority of it gets taken up during CES. All the big companies like Nikon and LG are there, alongside smaller up and comers like Fitbit or even the smallest entrepreneurs with little more than an idea. My favorite was the latter, in Eureka Park – the big guys’ booths were basically retail stores. I didn’t come here to walk around a mall. Though Nikon’s 360 jump shot circle was sick, see above.
Everyone has hired gorgeous women to showcase their wares, which is a disconcerting contrast with all the grey haired techies. Plus there’s a lot of French and Isreali entrepreneurs – the money is all American, British, and German though. And one in four companies there this year was from China – hundreds and hundreds of hardware startups with ‘Shenzen’ in their name, since apparently if you incorporate there you have to include the city name.
Call them tropes, or trends, but this year it was all curved electronics, drones, smart homes, 3d printing, and wearable tech. Dozens of drones, cameras, and wristbands that all do pretty much the same thing competing for your attention. If I had a dime for every speaker/headphones manufacturer pumping techno out of their booths with go-go dancers…..
Honestly I think you’d be better off staying home and reading the media write ups than walking around hoping to find the next big thing. Apparently most of the big guys just use the conference as a chance to sit down with foreign partners – I sat next to the Intel CTO out of Germany on the plane there and he said he was going to spend the whole time in his hotel room doing meetings.
So, the most valuable thing I can do is sum up all the cool stuff I saw, so you don’t have to go get footsore and wait in taxi lines. (Be warned, some of them are farther along in development than others.)
- Lyteshot is a gun/sensor combo that lets you play laser tag anywhere, without lasers.
- Kolibree is a toothbrush that controls a Temple Run-esque videogame, compelling you to a better brushing through movement.
- The Girls Scouts were even there, with an ipad dispatch app called Digital Cookie that lets you order cookies Uber -style.
- Spend Consciously lets you scan products and see where the company’s political and lobbyist money go
- Tablift is a silly looking tablet holder that lets you tap while lying down
- Flic is a wireless button that automatically trigger actions on your phone
- KnowRoaming is a sticker you put on your SIM card that lets you text and call abroad at minimal cost
- iSketchnote is a pad you can write on with normal paper, and it draws it digitally
- Sunfriends track how much sun you take in per day, tells you when you have too much or not enough
- Prynt is a smartphone case that turns your phone into a Polaroid camera, printing photos on the spot
- Upright is a sensor you put in the small of your back that vibrates when you have bad posture
- FastBar is a bracelet you top up with money when you enter an event, that lets you buy drinks with a simple swipe
- EcoReco is a nifty electric scooter
- Teddy The Guardian is a teddy bear with medical monitoring devices inside it, so you can measure children’s vitals scrare-free
- Tapcards turns your photos into scanable VR codes, that take you to the rest of the photo album on my butt
- TEP is a tamigotchi like animal that links to Fitbit, etc and stays healthy only if you exercise
- BuildFire builds apps super-simply