CES 2019 RECAP

 

The exhibit floor grew over 10% from 2018 and was flooded with technologies spanning the entire spectrum of healthcare. Exhibits included the latest FDA-approved solutions tackling the chronic pain and opioid epidemic, digital therapeutics breaking new ground, cutting-edge sleep tech to maximize your zzzzzz’s,, clinical-grade wearables preventing heart attacks and strokes, and the latest in genetic testing. The two-day Digital Health Summit broke all previous attendance records. Dr. Daniel Kraft (Singularity U.) delivered an energetic keynote with a look back at the last decade and a visionary look at the next 10. We also welcomed highly-prolific speakers to our stage from  Johnson & Johnson, Cigna, Philips, Medtronic, Abbott, Amgen, Seqster, and more.

 

In a nutshell we survived and thrived even in the midst of the crypto winter. There’s a voracious appetite for learning the ins and outs of digital currencies.  Fintech companies brought high tech riches to the world of traditional finance, including voice, AI and clever user experiences. With notables including Michael Casey, Tim Draper, Nolan Bushnell, Ryan Singer, Shidan Gouran, Alex Mashinsky and scores of others, we looked at the emergence of a new, maturing world of blockchain and digital currency. And our first Digital Money exhibit area on the show floor drew the attention of thousands of CES attendees looking to get up to speed on where the new world of money might take them with new players like DEVVIO, Vault.io, and Uniken.

 

Front of store, back of store and all points in between, technology is revolutionizing online and real-world shopping. We saw technologies that interact with the customer providing new, more personalized experiences (YouCam, aWear, Aetrex, Johnson and Johnson, Beijing YI Tunnel), ones that analyze shoppers experiences to bringing analytic efficiencies to market (InContext Solutions, Intel, Cardlytics, Karrot) and ones that are making smart tags (AveryDennison) and creating trackable retail ecosystems. Important trends? China’s retailers JD.com and Tencent are way ahead in fulfilling a customer’s dreams. Robots like Softbank’s will be greeting customers, while Simbe does store inventory and Wilkinson’s Bread Baking robot creates top-of-line edibles. Voice is the new interface ripe for exploration and unattended retail. And as Standard Cognition showed us, the voice is not the sole domain of Amazon Go.

 

We’re thinking of calling it the year of gentle tech. Partnerships between Cartoon Network, Microsoft, and Adafruit showed a thoughtful combination of art and high tech. Music to teach coding like Sphero’s new Specdrums took another path to creativity.  Even our KAPi award winners tended to be platforms that shied away from screens. Friends from the Toy Association and ASTRA brought their deep knowledge of kids’ play patterns to the front. Mattel tipped us off about its new low-cost Pictionary Game powered by voice, and the WWE focused on the art of high-tech storytelling. Mindfulness and meaning in the age of high tech and screens were one of the most compelling themes.  And watch Muse teach us how to be more human.  For families, it was all about using the Internet of Things to make homes more automated and efficient, freeing up more time to be a family.  And for the youngest parents, and parents to be, it was a year of Femtech — from nursing apparatus to baby monitors.

 

Smartwatches and fitness bands have become enmeshed in millions of users’ daily habits. They continue to become more accurate, more prescriptive and more personalized. Where else will wearables be taking us? Think wellness and healthcare, enterprise-workplace solutions, immersive entertainment, security and tracking, payments and fashion.  When Sarah Thomas took the stage with Seismic, we saw a wearable that could help an aging population keep “more balanced.” With asensei, we saw a connected coaching system. Acclaimed fashion designers working with new high tech materials showed us how to weave tomorrow’s smart garments.  On the show floor, we saw international companies showcasing everything from pet trackers to personalized hearing assistants. Prediction? We noted that VR and AR glasses will be widespread in the workplace with companies like Viewpoint Systems, Project Glass, and Orcam. And Michael Yang from OMERS Ventures rocked it with his look at the potential marketplace for workplace wearables.

 

 

Lest you forget, bringing up a baby is a $23 billion industry with some 4 million babies born in the US every year. More than ever, young families rely on a bevy of technology solutions to help them get through the day.  This year’s Babylist Best of Baby Tech Awards, sponsored by Babylist, featured kid’s trackers (Jiobit), sleep trackers (MIKU), fertility/pregnancy solutions (TempDrop), pumping innovations (Elvie Pump), and a special connected companion (WooBo). Johnson and Johnson, Cigna, Good Housekeeping, TytoCare, Willow and others shared their expertise in this “fertile” marketplace.
 

 

Now in its 19th year, we may be the last gadgets standing. This year’s aha moment came from Jennifer Jolly’s opening video, showing a day in the life of a CES journalist. Ten products ranging from the Vuze 3D/360 camera to a retro-modern MP3 player from Mixxtape to Harry Potter’s Wand were shown.  A Shure microphone kit made for bloggers and HP’s status symbol leather-bound notebook Spectre emerged victorious. And see if you can get these trivia questions right!

 

One of the most fulfilling things we do is recognize 4 or 5 young entrepreneurial innovators and give them the opportunity to join us at CES. We hold a special awards ceremony but also introduce them to potential mentors, and the famed CES Eureka Park (the next stop on their careers). This year’s winners tackled creating AI based knowledge bases, peer-to-peer shared WiFI to earn crypto cash, quantum computing in researching breast cancer, diagnosing Cancer of Unknown Primary, and detecting early disease through analyzing retinal scans.