CES 2020 Recap

By Douglas Weinstein
Published on: January 16, 2020

CES 2020 was another grueling week filled with meetings and booth visits. The crowds were intense – imagine tens of thousands of attendees, with huge backpacks, cameras at the ready, walking (shuffling) along, stopping and turning to record something, their backpacks slamming into you as you try to navigate upstream to get to your next meeting. It was brutal.

The cab lines were very manageable, I think my longest wait was 15 minutes (and that was leaving the main convention center at the end of the day, so not bad at all).

I can’t say that I saw many game changing products or technologies. There were lots of people showing 5G-related product, and surveillance capitalism (facial and retinal scanning) continues to pose quite serious threats to our privacy – but nothing really stood out that I’d say is going to rock the world. But, there were a few products that I think are going to do really well, and of course the parties and networking receptions were great sources of entertainment and industry news. So, here’s a very brief recap of my week at CES:

Unveiled – Unveiled takes place on the Sunday evening that kicks off CES Week (the show floors are open Tues-Fri) and is for press to take a look at new stuff – most are in prototype stage or testing stage, or fairly new to market. Several things I liked:

Wi-Charge – Welcome to the future of power. A future where power is delivered via light – safely and efficiently – from a distance and without wires. A future where battery replacements, charging pads and power cords are a thing of the past. Currently, they can generate enough power to charge a phone, but this technology that has nowhere else to go but up. Basically, you install a device on the ceiling (it looks like a speaker or a smoke detector) and it beams power via light to any device that it’s connected to (I think they communicate with each other via Bluetooth). Anyway, you come home, set your phone down, and Wi-Charge feeds it power to recharge the batteries. Now imagine if you could power iPads, toaster ovens, etc. We’ll just have to see how much power they can deliver and if people buy into the concept.

SureCall was showing their line of cell phone signal boosters. Very impressive and an impressive go-to market strategy in that they will be going after the system integration channel (in addition to standard distribution models for this type of product), who are among the most likely professionals to ensure that remote residences get the cell coverage they require.

Another company I’m following is CarePredict. They showed a wearable device for elderly folks that can notify family members or their care provider in case of emergency, and also collect medical data that can be remotely analyzed (think of it as a FitBit, but instead of counting your steps, it’s counting your heartbeat, etc.) Anyway, this type of product will play a role in the Living in Place sector, and our TD Magazine will be profiling some living in place concepts in the 2020 Spring issue. I told CarePredict CEO Satish Movva that we’d circle back and include his product in our coverage. The power of technology and logical design will team up to deliver incredible living in place strategies. After all, more ‘hey boomers’ will choose to live in place versus moving into assisted living facilities.

OneLife showed their air purification system, PureOne that they touted as silent and sustainable. At about $600-$700 MSRP it should be pretty competitive. Good looking and simple to keep clean.

Source showed their ZeroMass water concept – using a self-contained system and no electricity, it utilizes the power of the sun to generate energy that converts water vapor from the air into high-quality drinking water.

 

Parties and Receptions:

The NPD Group – The NPD Group’s annual party is pretty cool. Their analysts give a presentation of their findings in our space and then open the bar and it’s one of the best networking events we go to every year. Really smart people talking about really smart things. And, as a bonus, here is some additional info, fresh from the folks at The NPD Group:

“We want to share highlights of the Next Level Tech insights our analysts presented. You’ll get a quick look at tech industry Holiday 2019 results, industry expert perspectives in key categories, and our tech revenue forecast through 2022.

Get our analysts’ CES highlights

We enjoyed meeting and catching up with so many of our clients and friends including the great team at NPD at CES and wish you the best in the year ahead. Let us know how we can support your data-driven growth.

Questions? Contact your NPD account representative, call them at 866-444-1411, or email contactnpd@npd.com.”

 

Women in Consumer Technology Legacy Awards – This year’s master of ceremonies was none other than the terrific Bridget Karlin, Global CTO of IBM, and a Legacy Award Honoree, class of 2019. It is incredible to see the caliber of the women honored for their achievements in our industry. And another excellent networking reception. Congrats to all of the honorees!

 

The Mark of Excellence Awards – Many were honored for outstanding products and services. Kudos to Jeff Hendler of Logical Buildings for being named CES Integrator of the Year.

 

New products that are pretty cool:

Transparent displays – Sharp Electronics was demonstrating their see-through displays. We saw a few others but cannot comment on them at this time – they were still in prototype stage.

The uses for this product are endless. Storefronts can amp up their displays by advertising sales or even showing celebrities using their products. Entry vestibules in homes can come alive like never before.

Here is how we would describe this technology: You have a sheet of glass that you can see through. However, you are able to also turn that transparent panel into a TV, or call up your Instagram account or show multiple images at the same time. It has unlimited potential for interior or exterior design. Check it out in the video below:

 

Kohler and Moen – Kohler had some interesting products, including a $240-ish MSRP water filtration unit that sits under your sink. At that price-point, it’s easy to outfit your bathrooms and kitchen with filtered water. When the filter needs to be changed, you can receive a text or if you are an Amazon Prime customer, the system orders it automatically. Moen’s Flo product group continues to grow. Flo can measure your water usage, and this year they introduced water bugs so you can be notified if you develop any leaks, indoors or on your outdoor irrigation system. Something like 1 trillion gallons of water are wasted due to leaks each year. So Flo continues to expand.

Harman Luxury Audio Group – The HLAG had tons of good stuff, including the sexiest pair of Revel speakers I’ve ever seen – in Ferrari Red! Some new products from Mark Levinson caught our eye and the JBL Synthesis system now comes equipped with Harman’s proprietary processor – the demo was breathtaking.

And, what I personally think is going to be a major, major product, are Harman’s concealed speakers. HARMAN Luxury Audio announced at CEDIA 2019 that they had partnered with Stealth Acoustics to co-develop and launch a new series of high-performance, concealed loudspeakers for residential custom audio applications.

Now, you’ve all heard stealth speakers before and most of you probably think their performance suffers compared to in-wall or floor-standing designs; but the Harman stealth speakers and accompanying electronics were absolutely top shelf. I don’t want to say more because I’m not sure where Harman is on releasing these speakers – but when they hit the market, go have a listen. I guarantee you will be blown away.

POW Audio – I wrote about this father and son team last year. They make a portable speaker that pops open like a Jiffy Pop. The speaker in the closed position is fairly thin, so you can jam it into your backpack. When you get to the park or the beach, you pop it open and now you have a speaker with a large enclosure that reproduces incredible bass. It’s a great sounding and ingenious product. This year, they introduced a water-resistant model that can float in your swimming pool. Great to see them thriving.

Denon – Denon is gravitating their lifestyle HEOS speakers over to the Denon brand and they showed off three small wireless, streamable lifestyle speakers that connect via the HEOS protocol. Very impressive sound from these bantamweight speakers. They also showed off two new sound sculpture speakers – along with a companion center channel speaker for theater applications – and not only was the sound gorgeous, but the pair in white were designer friendly and as sleek as an otter in the Monterey Bay.

EVBox – a global leader in electric car charging stations, EVBox was demonstrating their universal nozzle that fits any electric car. They have incredible analytic software so you can analyze your usage, or for MDUs or fee-based charging stations you can drill down to automating fees based on time-of-day usage. And they are really design forward – beautiful and well constructed.

Capstone – this company was showing their first smart mirror product that’s on the market and some other concepts on their roadmap. What really impressed me was the quality of the light that is embedded in the mirror. So, like other smart mirrors, you have touch-screen capability, a mirror, and great light – it’s a wonder people who use these ever come out of their bathrooms at all!

 

Most impressive demo – Samsung The Wall

Most impressive booth tour – Sharp Electronics, conducted by the maestro, Peter Weedfald. And here’s a highlight from a company showing off some very impressive new products . . .  a consumer 8K camera that is ball-parked to come in at around $4K MSRP. As many of you know, this summer’s Olympics will be shot with 8K cameras, so there will be a buzz about 8K TVs, etc. But now you can buy your own 8K camera and create amazing video or still-image photography. And at $4K retail, it’s a steal.

Best food and drink – it’s a toss-up between Lavo and Bouchon, with Morels running a close third. “Thank you, Chad!”, our favorite bartender who took care of our group after the WiCT reception.

 

Douglas Weinstein

Douglas Weinstein

Doug is the Editor and co-founder of the Technology Insider Group and Technology Designer Magazine. Previously, he was the Executive Director and co-founder of the Elf Foundation, a non-profit organization that created Room of Magic entertainment theaters in children's hospitals across North America.

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