CES Special Edition – What’s Trending

By But Wait, That's Not All... Archives
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Trends are a funny thing. Every year for a decade, I was asked to put together a trends presentation for our clients. And, as if they are cosmically connected, the number of trends had to match the year, which was really easy in 2000: Sorry, no trends this year; it’s a zero year. But by 2012, it had become a real pain in the ass, as trends were not allowed to repeat year over year, despite that being the exact definition of a trend.

I tell CES newbies that if you are a first-timer, you are absolutely wowed by all the innovation, the overstimulation of screens everywhere, wall-to-wall people, robots, futuristic autonomous vehicles, flying machines, and the spectacle that is a combination of the world’s largest trade show and the carnival atmosphere that is Las Vegas on a regular day.

If you come back the next year, you may notice a few changes, but everything seems to be in the same place with the majority of exhibitors exactly where they were the previous year, albeit with maybe slightly updated offerings.

Come back for a third year in a row and you will probably ask yourself, “Why am I in this friggin’ oversized Best Buy?”

I am one of many exceptions to that. I love CES; I think CES is important. And, yes, there are definite trends that you can see, maybe not year-over-year, but certainly looking holistically over a three- to five-year period.

What I find amazing this year is that the spotlight is not really on the traditional players — such as LG, Samsung, Sony, and other traditional consumer electronics companies — but, instead, on consumer packaged goods companies such as Impossible Foods, L’Oreal, Neutrogena, and Procter & Gamble.

If you would have told me five years ago that one of the highlights of CES would be a mini-robot that brings you Charmin toilet paper when you are, ummm, in a sticky situation, I would have rolled my eyes.

In a pre-CES presentation, Procter & Gamble chief brand officer Mark Pritchard stated simply, “To us, CES stands for Consumer Experience Show.” I believe that is clearly one significant way that CES is evolving overall.

I also agree with the Consumer Tech Association’s trends preview, which said that one of the biggest trends is that IoT is no longer the “Internet of Things,” but is now the “Intelligence of Things.” Devices, from TVs to cars and from mirrors to microwaves, are not only web-connected, they’re also acting as passive controls. (Learn more on IoT from Intel here and download the Giide appfrom Apple or Google Play for the full Intelinteractive audio experience.)

Neutrogena has relaunched its Skin360 app, which can analyze more 2,000 facial attributes and then, through AI, offer up skin tips, such as where to apply moisturizer or makeup.

L’Oreal unveiled Perso,an AI-powered device that streamlines a four-step process to deliver on-the-spot skincare. It uses your smartphone camera, married with your geo-location data, to assess local environmental conditions that can impact your skin. Add in your personal concerns and the device will marry that data and provide a personal blend of product dispensed in a single dose at the top of the device.

And Whirlpool has partnered with its social cooking site, Yummly, on a smart thermometer that communicates with your Whirlpool oven to adjust the temperature based on the internal temperature of your protein. The thermometer will also connect with the recipe on your Yummly app, know what step you are on in the recipe, preheat accordingly, and adjust the temperature up or down depending on the needs of that particular recipe.

The Internet of Things plugs into the brain of devices. The Intelligence of Things means that they’re learning. Dystopian or utopian? That’s to be determined.

But Wait, That’s Not All…

Another trend that I’m already noticing is an explosion of devices meant to calm us down. Perhaps it’s the extreme polarization of our politics, the numerous natural disasters and extreme weather that we’ve experienced over the past decade, or the reemergence of hate, whether racial or religious, but we are clearly stressed. And, in no small measure, technology — social media in particular — is a major contributing factor.

There is a definite trend this year at CES for stress-reduction tech — from cuddly robots to biofeedback spheres that measure your heart rate and blood pressure as you meditate to devices that send small electric waves to your earlobes to regulate anxiety to the “Bartesian”(think: the Keurig of cocktails) for those who enjoy a beverage or two to relieve stress.

There are many more trends we’ll address as we cover CES 2020. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@mediawhiz), and always at @mediavillage for posts, microblogs, and links to full articles.

Image: L’Oreal's Perso device, courtesy of L’Oreal

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