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CES 2019: The Peaks and the Pits

CES 2019: The Peaks and the Pits

Jess Santini

Jess Santini

January 18, 2019

Havas Media NA’s Jess Santini on what worked and what didn’t this year

I’ve never had much luck with voice. Siri constantly tries to dial my exes and Alexa just doesn’t get me. With that said, the voice assistants at CES were on another level.

2019 marked my first visit to CES—the annual all-encompassing trade show that showcases the latest and greatest in innovation and technology. I was both anxious and excited as my plane touched down in fabulous Las Vegas, unsure of what to expect from the 4,400+ exhibiting companies.

The Peaks

Tour of the Floor

The trade show floor at CES is a lot like Times Square. With the overstimulation of lights, screens, foot traffic, and information—it’s all very overwhelming! I didn’t know where to start. Thankfully, Havas Media’s Executive Vice President and Head of Digital Strategy and Investments, Sargi Mann, led an expertly curated “Tour of the Floor,” where she presented the most innovative and meaningful exhibits while highlighting their relevance to our industry at large. Sargi has a way of explaining complex information in a simple, clear way, which made the experience at CES more enjoyable and enlightening.

 

The LG Experience

The entrance to the LG Experience exhibit featured 260 curved screens artfully paneled together, depicting scenes of nature and creating a massive planetarium-like structure. Combined with state-of-the-art surround sound, the effect was truly captivating. LG televisions are, simply put, amazing. Between the rollable OLED TV (which rolls up into an unassuming piece of furniture when turned off) and the LG V40 ThinQ™ Smartphone (boasting 5 cameras and the functionality to seamlessly stitch together photos taken from different angles in real time), the LG Experience left me wondering, “Is there any way I could afford a $15,000 TV?”…. The answer, of course, is undeniable: No.

Smart Homes Have a Voice

I’ve never had much luck with voice. Siri constantly tries to dial my exes and Alexa just doesn’t get me. With that said, the voice assistants at CES were on another level. Smart homes, in particular, had a more thoughtful response to the average request. For example, if you informed your voice assistant that you’d be having several guests over at 9 pm, it would automatically decrease the room temperature to accommodate the extra warm bodies in your home.

Alibaba Real-Time Translator

In recent years, too much of the new technology showcased at CES has been a gimmick. Robotic pets are cool (I guess…), but do they really enrich our lives? Signs point to no. This year, one of the standout products with real-world application was the Alibaba Real-Time Translator. Currently in beta, translating Chinese to English and vice versa, this program will be rolled out in several languages very soon. As our world becomes increasingly more global, this technology will be a game changer.

Entertainment

Last but certainly not least, what’s Las Vegas without a little entertainment? Thanks to our partners, I got a front row seat to performances by Lil Wayne, Ellie Goulding, and T-Pain. It was so much fun to let off some steam after a long day of work and see these performers up close and personal. Although it doesn’t exactly make my list of “key industry takeaways,” it was definitely a peak work-perk for me. You know what they say: #WorkHardPlayHard.

The Pits

What’s Up With Your Tech, CES?

For a technology-focused trade show, you’d think that CES would integrate some of the state-of-the-art technology on display into the overall programming of the event. The app, for example, could have featured real-time updates and a more intuitive digital directory. It was so lacking in functionality that we ended up using good old-fashioned paper maps to plan our day. Smart mobility, autonomous vehicles, AI, and machine learning—all these tools could make the CES experience more efficient and enjoyable for attendees and exhibitors alike.

VR Needs a Facelift

Too many companies tout virtual reality as a state-of-the-art technology. This concept has been around for years, and (in my humble opinion) it wasn’t that interesting to begin with. Every exhibit that boasted a VR experience left me feeling underwhelmed and wanting something more.

Poor Choice of Footwear

“Wear athletic sneakers,” they said. “Only bring the most comfortable pair of shoes,” they warned me. “I’m a New Yorker, I walk all the time,” I replied. Boy, was I wrong. After strolling around the Las Vegas Convention Center in my trusty boots for a whopping seven miles, I realized I’d made an epic rookie mistake. As a result, my feet were throbbing and my back was killing me. Duly noted for CES 2020: pack light, and bring your Nikes.

I’ve never had much luck with voice. Siri constantly tries to dial my exes and Alexa just doesn’t get me. With that said, the voice assistants at CES were on another level.

2019 marked my first visit to CES—the annual all-encompassing trade show that showcases the latest and greatest in innovation and technology. I was both anxious and excited as my plane touched down in fabulous Las Vegas, unsure of what to expect from the 4,400+ exhibiting companies.

The Peaks

Tour of the Floor

The trade show floor at CES is a lot like Times Square. With the overstimulation of lights, screens, foot traffic, and information—it’s all very overwhelming! I didn’t know where to start. Thankfully, Havas Media’s Executive Vice President and Head of Digital Strategy and Investments, Sargi Mann, led an expertly curated “Tour of the Floor,” where she presented the most innovative and meaningful exhibits while highlighting their relevance to our industry at large. Sargi has a way of explaining complex information in a simple, clear way, which made the experience at CES more enjoyable and enlightening.

 

The LG Experience

The entrance to the LG Experience exhibit featured 260 curved screens artfully paneled together, depicting scenes of nature and creating a massive planetarium-like structure. Combined with state-of-the-art surround sound, the effect was truly captivating. LG televisions are, simply put, amazing. Between the rollable OLED TV (which rolls up into an unassuming piece of furniture when turned off) and the LG V40 ThinQ™ Smartphone (boasting 5 cameras and the functionality to seamlessly stitch together photos taken from different angles in real time), the LG Experience left me wondering, “Is there any way I could afford a $15,000 TV?”…. The answer, of course, is undeniable: No.

Smart Homes Have a Voice

I’ve never had much luck with voice. Siri constantly tries to dial my exes and Alexa just doesn’t get me. With that said, the voice assistants at CES were on another level. Smart homes, in particular, had a more thoughtful response to the average request. For example, if you informed your voice assistant that you’d be having several guests over at 9 pm, it would automatically decrease the room temperature to accommodate the extra warm bodies in your home.

Alibaba Real-Time Translator

In recent years, too much of the new technology showcased at CES has been a gimmick. Robotic pets are cool (I guess…), but do they really enrich our lives? Signs point to no. This year, one of the standout products with real-world application was the Alibaba Real-Time Translator. Currently in beta, translating Chinese to English and vice versa, this program will be rolled out in several languages very soon. As our world becomes increasingly more global, this technology will be a game changer.

Entertainment

Last but certainly not least, what’s Las Vegas without a little entertainment? Thanks to our partners, I got a front row seat to performances by Lil Wayne, Ellie Goulding, and T-Pain. It was so much fun to let off some steam after a long day of work and see these performers up close and personal. Although it doesn’t exactly make my list of “key industry takeaways,” it was definitely a peak work-perk for me. You know what they say: #WorkHardPlayHard.

The Pits

What’s Up With Your Tech, CES?

For a technology-focused trade show, you’d think that CES would integrate some of the state-of-the-art technology on display into the overall programming of the event. The app, for example, could have featured real-time updates and a more intuitive digital directory. It was so lacking in functionality that we ended up using good old-fashioned paper maps to plan our day. Smart mobility, autonomous vehicles, AI, and machine learning—all these tools could make the CES experience more efficient and enjoyable for attendees and exhibitors alike.

VR Needs a Facelift

Too many companies tout virtual reality as a state-of-the-art technology. This concept has been around for years, and (in my humble opinion) it wasn’t that interesting to begin with. Every exhibit that boasted a VR experience left me feeling underwhelmed and wanting something more.

Poor Choice of Footwear

“Wear athletic sneakers,” they said. “Only bring the most comfortable pair of shoes,” they warned me. “I’m a New Yorker, I walk all the time,” I replied. Boy, was I wrong. After strolling around the Las Vegas Convention Center in my trusty boots for a whopping seven miles, I realized I’d made an epic rookie mistake. As a result, my feet were throbbing and my back was killing me. Duly noted for CES 2020: pack light, and bring your Nikes.

Jess oversees media relations, content management, culture, and events for Havas Media NA.

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