The future of innovation is here!

CES 2018 by the numbers:

  • 4,000 exhibitors
  • 75-million net square feet
  • 170,000+ attendees; 15 of whom were from Petra!

“Petra took CES 2018 by storm! Our team of executives and merchandise managers spent three days walking more than 140 combined miles to seek out the year’s hottest tech offerings from new and current vendor partners. Home automation, security and networking will continue to drive customer spend in 2018. Petra had the opportunity to review new offerings from our great partners such as TP-Link, Switchmate, Linksys and EZVIZ.” Gerald Cruz, Senior Manager, Business Development.

There’s a reason this iconic annual event is now called CES rather than the Consumer Electronics Show. Although there’s a heavy emphasis on fun and useful consumer gadgetry, many displays are business to business oriented. The result is a wild, exciting, energizing and mind-blowing show that beckons year after year. Even celebrities turn out!

Fun and useful gadgets

CES 2018 did not disappoint when it came to attention-grabbing, consumer products. Some were proof of concept, others are ready to market. Since it’s impossible to list all the amazing stuff on display, here’s a selective list of products that certainly caught our eye.

Innovative Products

Many products touted the use of AI or smart home integration. Not surprisingly, one of the big leave-behind impressions of CES 2018 was the inevitable morphing of our world into a connected one.

VR, AR and mixed reality technologies certainly made a splash in the Gaming and Virtual Reality Marketplace. One exciting innovation on display was new haptic feedback technology that adds the dimension of touch for a much more interactive, immersive experience.

Drones also had their own special marketplace. Displays ranged from selfie-centric to autonomous flying machines!

And let’s not forget the automotive segment. Over the years, the automotive space at CES has become a major auto show in its own right. Aftermarket products as well as electric cars and self driving vehicles were on display. So were companies and their partners that design the internal components for these next-gen vehicles. Surprising exhibitors included Pioneer. Better known for consumer electronic audio products, the company demonstrated its Advanced UX Cockpit—a Level 3 driving system concept for autonomous vehicles.

CES always has surprises. But perhaps the biggest was completely unintentional—a freak electrical overload on Day 2, resulting in a power outage to the Central exhibit hall that lasted for hours. Kind of hard to show off cutting-edge tech without electricity! But the power failure gave Jasco’s GE booth an unexpected opportunity to shine brightly.

“The Jasco Booth with their GE and Energizer nightlights with battery backup was very popular when the power went out!”—Steve Lukowski, Petra merchandising manager.

The tradeshow side of CES

There were a lot of business-to-business interactions at CES.

  • Eureka Park showcased 900 budding startups from more than 40 countries. All were seeking funding or partners or buyers.
  • Design and Source Marketplace connected brands to buyers by showcasing design, sourcing and packaging companies from around the world.
  • CES Sports Zone marketplace showcased technology impacting the business of sports—on and off the field.
  • Smart Cities Marketplace showcased how AI, 5G, next-gen 4G LTE, Big Data, specialized sensors and autonomous vehicles could merge to improve the quality of life in urban areas while reducing energy needs.

Last year, the buzz was Amazon Alexa. This year, it was AI in general. From robots and autonomous vehicles to dishwashers, refrigerators and smart homes, AI has become the latest marketing buzzword.

LG’s announced choice of the Google platform for their new smart appliances highlights the not-so-subtle AI multimillion-dollar format war. For those of us who lived through the VHS vs Beta or Blu-ray vs HD DVD debacles, this is all too familiar. As more and more companies pick sides, or develop their own AI platforms, retailers and installers need to educate their customers about any compatibility issues

Interactivity with self-learning AI devices and IoT (machine to machine) connectivity have a backside—Big Data. What will companies do with the data they collect as their devices report in? Will it only be used to make life better for their customers? Or are they also selling it—and to whom?

Once upon a time a consumer simply bought a product. With AI and Big Data, the consumer not only buys a product, he or she also BECOMES a product. Small wonder over 170 elected or appointed government officials from all over the world were in attendance. Policymakers need to know what’s available now and what’s coming so they can figure out how best to prepare. Whenever something new disrupts the established way of life, the need to regulate isn’t too far behind.

The Takeaway

There’s no doubt there were amazing tech and dazzling glimpses of a better life at CES 2018. And Petra will be signing deals with those companies that best fit our customer’s needs.

So, in the coming months…

  1. Keep an eye on our website for new, CES-sourced products.
  2. Keep your customers educated about choosing AI-based platforms that are compatible.
  3. And don’t be afraid to let your customers know that their interactions with AI devices will not remain private for long.

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