The annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is filled with hope -- hope to find innovation and inspiration.
Eureka Park stole the show at CES this year. At the center of Eureka Park was the Innovation Awards Showcase featuring those technologies deemed the best by the Consumer Electronics Association.
Winning a Best of Innovation Award was the DASH by Bragi -- a product that just might replace Google Glass, along with any other visible wearable. These wireless, waterproof, in-ear headphones feature a 4GB MP3 player, a microphone, Bluetooth, fitness tracking, a heart rate monitor and noise isolation. The wearer can choose to enable or disable ambient sound to pass through with a swipe on the touch surface of the DASH. People may not want to have a wearable on their face, but they might find it acceptable to wear one in their ear. This trend may lead to a reinvigoration of the need for brands to understand how to create voice capability and associated content into wearables.
Beyond the Innovation Awards Showcase, Eureka Park reinforced the themes of technology innovation that will impact how consumers relate to technology and the content therein. The following are some of the top themes showcased at Eureka Park and some companies working toward changing the game.
Track, Monitor, Alert -- Make Wearables Do More
Wearables were abundant among the attendees at CES as well as within the floor booths, showcasing the fact that tracking biometrics and health activities will soon be commonplace in our daily lives. The innovation highlighted this year was the ability to move beyond simple tracking to tracking that alerts wearers to act. Pacif-i, Blue Maestro's smart pacifier, records a baby's temperature, passes the reading to the parent's smartphone, tracks medication and can set reminders. For products such as this, the value for brands is twofold: First, brands must be more thoughtful than ever before about creating products that go beyond a simple task. Second, brands should work to connect to the ecosystems created by these connected products to provide incremental value to the product itself.
Precise Food Analysis
With the increasing amount of exercise tracking and analysis within the wearables market, one would think the forecast for the dieting market would be higher than the 1.2% cited in a Marketdata report. The Smart Diet Scale showcased at CES tries to solve this challenge by weighing multiple food portions on a scale at the same time and then connecting those items to an app that allows tracking of the exact portions of the food items. Though small, this innovation represents the future advances in precise food analysis we will see at CES.
Connected Devices Meet Fashion -- Fashion Makes "Sense"
Designers are jumping into the wearable space at a rapid pace. The new innovation showcased in Eureka Park in this category was around the concept of "sense" as a new language related to notifications. Novitact showcased its connected bracelet that interprets messages from the user's smartphone and provides various signals distinguished by intensity, duration and rhythm of vibration on the wrist. The theory here is that notification sensing will become a new language for consumers.
Eye Tracking in Everything
The Eye Tribe's $99 eye tracker was recognized in four Innovation Award categories at CES this year. Additionally, the company has built an eye-tracking solution for Android allowing non-hardware integration into smartphones, tablets, consumer electronics and cars. Eye control capability will be in every device with a camera in the near future and brands that understand how to carefully navigate both the privacy concerns and the playful technology palette this technology provides will lead in engaging consumers in more meaningful ways.
Startup Battles Abound!
Not only did Eureka Park showcase 375 startups, but Up Global also sponsored the startup stage right in the middle, where entrepreneurs pitched their ideas to prominent investors, executives and the media. Further, TechCrunch exhibited in Eureka Park showcasing the top competitors in the Hardware Battlefield, a hardware startup competition aimed at finding the next innovators. The Voltera V-One, a circuit board prototyping printer, won the contest, but all of the technologies highlighted showcased important points that summarize the trends within Eureka Park. Working with new companies and entrants can bring innovation. More than one innovation can win. Having focused time and a structure around technology innovation exploration is critical to all businesses and is no longer an option; it's a requirement.
Cary Tilds is Chief Innovation Officer for GroupM. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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