Archives For CES

(cross-posted from the space150 blog)

We recently attended CES 2017 in Las Vegas. This year, our annual pilgrimage to tech’s biggest showcase underscored a lot of what we’ve been exploring at space150 in 2016, including voice-enabled devices and VR, but in many instances set the stage for new exploration in 2017. From a new definition of sensory perception to diverging definition for the future of mobility. One thing was clear – 2017 will be exciting.

Below, please find trends we’re watching in 2017 and beyond following CES:

Assistance Through Assistants

While a decade ago, cameras and photos were the function that drove tech, today, microphones are the new cameras. More and more, on-demand, voice-enabled is becoming mainstream. Amazon and their Alexa won CES, and they didn’t even have a formal presence.

While this may mean some very useless and rudimentary experimentation with voice assistants in the short-term, we also saw some gems. Whirlpool, for example, announced appliances that respond to your voice (via Alexa), as did Ford. GE also rolled out voice-enabled appliances. The Internet of Things (IoT) is increasingly practical and affordable, and no where are voice assistants more logical than when built into these systems. I think about my kids who have an expectation for touch screens – but this lays out a future that is much more on-demand. Imagine your child’s first word is “Alexa” or “Ok, Google”.

There was also a lot of buzz about the over complication of consumer devices by making them IoT-capable. Does a hairbrush or clothes iron need an app? Not today (although those products also launched at CES 2017). But the more data we have and greater connectivity of our lives, the more possibility advertisers have to truly understand how consumers act, use products and understand messages. Today, I can ask Alexa in my kitchen to start my car or how much gas is left, and that would have seemed ridiculous five years ago. Now you can turn on and check the status of your iron, coffee pot and crock pot the same way.

What does this mean for brands? As agencies and marketers, we need to help brands think through how screenless and voice-controlled interfaces so that we can add value to the consumer. What is your consumer’s experience with your brand using solely their voice, and how can you provide value day-to-day for them by connecting your existing apps, databases and your knowledge of them? At space150, we launched an Alexa Skill in December, and we’re still learning from that as we build these for clients — interaction design, tonality and more. 

Adding New Senses to Experience Design, UX and Products

On that note – and in addition to Voice, at CES we saw a significant amount of innovations in audio, gestures and haptics. More and more we saw the idea of going beyond the touchscreen to actually bringing feeling to our digital lives. This isn’t smell-o-vision. These are screens and air gestures we can genuinely feel as if they are physical objects.

We saw haptic (touch) technology coming to  shoes, shirts, dashboards, TVs and touchscreens. One of the more interesting demos we saw was Tanvas, which wants to add the ability to feel texture on a touchscreen with a new haptic feedback technology rooted in ultrasonics. Imagine a world where a haptic forcefield could keep your fingers away from hot surfaces such as an oven. That was a demo, and it was impressive (assuming you can keep bacon grease out of the tiny speakers). We also saw VR shoe demos designed to give the wearer the feeling of rough or wet texture. It’s early for this technology, but it’s certainly an area we’ll be monitoring. 

For brands, this mean that we need to start thinking about senses beyond sight and designing for touch. Textures, gestures and feelings will dramatically change how we think about user experiences and how our customers interact with our content, apps and products. 

VR Entering the Age of Inside-Out Enlightenment

Every single major brand (auto/electronics/home/IoT/drone/photography/etc) had some type of VR, 360º or AR experience in their booth this year to tell their story to attendees using immersive media. Most of the experiences were rudimentary and focused more on using VR/AR technology to build a line at the booth versus telling an amazing story using this new medium. But that wasn’t the story worth telling this year.

The biggest VR product launches worth noting at CES 2017 were: 1) Wireless VR coming thanks to new HTC Vive options, and 2) Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Power Rangers Demo, which shows the true future of inside-out VR — powered by your phone, not a helmet hooked to a powerful computer. Think Samsung Gear VR or Google Daydream except it’s six degrees of freedom. This is truly walk-around VR, not 360º video or just up/down/left/right controls.

This is the future of VR/AR — wireless experiences powered by your phone, and we caught a glimpse this year. And although it’s early days, the future of these experiences will be mobile. But the technology is going to take time to get there, from hardware to software to the developer kits that make them run. Marketers should focus on how to tell stories people care about with this new tech as part of their toolboxes. Inside-out, mobile VR is only going to grow, but the only way to be ready for the future is to understand where we’re at today.

Autonomous Cars are on a Mainstream Collision Course

One of the more interesting anecdotes we heard at CES this year was from Shelly Palmer, who advises companies like Verizon on innovation. He relayed a story about Ford CEO Alan Mullaly at CES in 2012 who said at that time that, due to risk and regulations and insurance and human nature, we would never see autonomous cars in our lifetime. But here we are five years later and CES was aflame with autonomous, self-driving and assisted driving innovation.

This year, every major automaker was showing off self-driving templates, sensors, and technology that envision a much different future than what Mr. Mullaly claimed in 2012. In fact, Ford has now announced production of a fully autonomous ride-sharing fleet by 2021. The competition fierce with each company taking a different path. However, what was clear is that driving as we know it now looks much much different in the future. It will change very drastically in the coming years, and every single car company at the show (including Honda, their first year) was showing off their take on this emerging tech.

For brands, we are at the beginning of a post-ownership and post-human-driver age, and that’s worth noting. Volkswagen painted a picture (via VR demo) of all the free time consumers will have in their vehicles when they don’t have to concentrate on driving. This means brands will have new moments to capture a consumer’s attention and new considerations for when, where and how we can engage them with a brand message during this downtime. It also means smart brands are going to starting thinking about this tech ecosystem early to be prepared.

Robots Are Real

One of our least favorite “trends” this year was the continued infatuation with anthropomorphic robots — or robots that look and act like humans.

The media coverage coming out of the show seemed fixated on some examples of robots that walk like us, play chess like us, follow us around and read to our kids. In our opinion these are a distraction from some of the more innovative ways that AI and computer-assistance are really positioned to improve our lives. Because, the robots — machines capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically, especially one programmable by a computer — are already here. They’re in our pockets, our cars, our homes and workplaces.

We’re seeing less desire year-over-year for C3PO-style, Rosie The Robot-style tech, and believe brands should instead be laser focused on creating intelligent systems that tie to the cloud and improve our lives.

How Brands Told Stories in Unique Ways at CES 2017

Finally, we saw some tremendous brand storytelling that tapped into emerging tech at this year’s show. Specifically, we would call out a few brands:

  • American Express (client) used CES as an opportunity to unveil an Escape Room for visitors with branded clues.
  • Meanwhile Intel used AR/Hololens tech to showcase storytelling with “invisible” technology.
  • Finally, leveraging the upcoming Power Rangers movie, Qualcomm used CES to create buzz for its new inside-out VR tracking, using a Power Rangers helmet.

Check out our video run-down below. We shot the whole thing using Snapchat Spectacles for that POV feeling. Based on the trajectory of the trends we saw, we expect 2018 to be an even more innovative year for CES. 

What’s Next?

Join space150 for Excited for Change: 2017 Trends for the Modern Marketer in Minneapolis on January 8th. Our VP of Brand Innovation, Greg Swan, will be leading this MIMA panel with leaders from Land O’Lakes Inc., Thomson Reuters, Fjorge and Regis for a forward-looking discussion on 2017 trends, what’s next, and how to avoid fad fatigue in 2017.

Tickets available here.

(crossposted from space150’s blog)

Our team from space150 spent last week at CES, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. As veterans of the show, we’re quick to uncover what’s buzzing, what’s garbage and what has lasting implications. Overall, we have to say the disruptive energy is contagious.

While at the show, we used a 360 camera to get some unique perspectives on things – you can check those out here.

Here are four trends we saw from this year’s show:

1. Smartphone is the Center of Everything:

If it’s not obvious, the shift to mobile-first has fully happened. Almost everything on the CES show floor is connected to, powered by, or augments a mobile phone. Auto brands aren’t trying to replace your phone with their maps anymore; they’re integrating with your phone and leveraging all of the latest and greatest your iOS or Android smartphone has to offer.

Many new devices don’t have their own screens and interfaces. Rather, they assume the presence of a smartphone. Drones, speakers, baby monitors, refrigerators, health trackers and many more items use the phone as the hub. The assumption is that you have a phone, it’s connected to the anytime web, and it’s with you at all times.

Implication: As brands consider how consumers connect with their brands and products, they must take a truly user-centered design approach — integrating mobile tech with existing consumer behavior in a smooth and seamless way. They must think beyond mobile-first to mobile standard. Answer the question, “Just because you can hook your phone to something, should you?”

2. Internet of Things (IoT) and Wearables are Shifting From Products to Platforms:

Consumers just love the idea of automatically controlled lights, window curtains and music. It’s a cliche that has roots in the desire to disrupt the everyday, 130 year-old light switch. A few short years ago, it was “enough” to have a web connected camera, thermostat or lights that just did their own thing. Some of the early connected home products work well (Nest / Hue), but for them to really take off, they need to work simply and easily together with other IoT products on both iOS and Android.

The volume of new IoT products is huge, and at the same time the main platforms haven’t fully developed and consumer demand is still lagging. A new Accenture report just noted, “demand for the next generation of devices enabled by the Internet of Things isn’t growing fast enough to offset declines in traditional categories.”

While the one-off IoT products try to find their home, companies like Comcast Xfinity, ADT and Alarm.com are rolling out full package home solutions that aren’t as good as the best products out there, but are definitely “good enough” and priced well for general consumer adoption. Using security as a hook, these three companies have created central home hubs wired with cameras, smart thermostats and mobile-controlled lights.

On the wearables and health front, we skipped all the wrist-tracking bands, but spent significant time with Under Armour, who just launched the HealthBox, featuring a connected fitness band, heart rate monitor and scale sold in one package. They’re selling a holistic package to health monitoring and have made big acquisitions in the space (MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal, Endomondo) that collectively have millions of monthly users, Under Armour’s platform approach to quantified self offers a more complete approach to health and fitness over others we saw.

ces-ua

Implication: We’re still in the early adopter phase of quantified self as a trend, and there is still a lack of mainstream IoT standards. Mainstream consumers should know if they buy from an established brand they should have a few years of support with their purchase. But when buying from smaller startups or new entrants, they should be aware that you’re likely part of the experiment. Lastly, continue looking to Google Android and Apple to innovate in this space.

3. Immersive Content — Virtual Reality + 360º Video — is Mainstreaming:

We sampled more than 50 VR and 360º video experiences on the show floor. Even brands and booths that didn’t make sense for this type of content tended to have some type of trade show bait rooted in a Samsung Gear or Google Cardboard-type content offering. This will be the year that all of the main platforms experience a consumer release (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Playstation VR).

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In the race for who will ship first, it looks like Oculus will take that trophy; preorders started on the first day of CES, with the promise of shipping in March. The price for the Oculus Headset ($599) shocked a lot of people, and we suspect the prices of the following two systems will as well. We’re in early days of this technology, so prepare for early adopter pricing on the first consumer releases. The lines for demonstration at Oculus’s booth the Samsung Gear VR theater were the talk of the show.

While 360 Video is not VR, we’ll lump them together here for the sake of discussions. We covered the show with the current best “point and shoot” camera for 360 photos and video: the Ricoh Theta S. It’s ~$400 and shoots good photos and decent videos. Capturing content is simple enough, but the software is buggy and a hassle to publish your content outside their proprietary viewer.

With that said, we were stopped by countless strangers at the show to ask about our 360 rig and how it was working. People are excited about this technology becoming affordable and easier to use than a multi-camera GoPro rig that requires post-editing. Nikon was showing off their upcoming 360º Camera (the KeyMission 360) with the aplomb Nikon deserves, and we’re excited to test it. Look for many of these cameras to hit the market soon (a reason to buy a point and shoot camera again?) and then for this technology to eventually fold into your phone in the long-term.

ces-nikon

Also, look for the continued growth of aftermarket products for this space, including VR treadmills, foot rudders, handsets, paddles, haptics and cheesy Google Cardboard tchotchkes. Our favorites were the Samsung Gear VR Rink haptic handset controllers and the HTC Vive, the latter of which we just hosted demos in our Minneapolis office for key clients.

Implication: We are bullish on “my first VR” experiences and also more mature VR experiences that require Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. We have experience with multi-camera GoPro 360 and point and shoot 360. With that said, and after sampling more than 50 immersive experiences at CES last week, we have to say that almost all this content is underwhelming.

There is tremendous room to grow in design, utility — and frankly — ensuring there’s a purpose for making immersive content to start with. Brands need to consider not only how to immediately jump on this trend to earn the brand reputation spark of being first in VR, but they also must ensure there is a meaningful reason to be there with content that consumers care about. Consider this: how can we use VR and immersive content to not mimic the feeling of being at a big event in real life, but making it even better because you’re not there in real life.

4. Iterative Innovation:

The best things at CES this year weren’t new this year; they were significant iterative advances on what we’ve seen before. Some of these advances were amazing. But if you don’t look close, it’s easy to miss them.

  • Drones: One of the best examples of this are the drones from DJI and others. The new models do so much more than the models from just a few years ago: infrared obstacle tracking and avoidance, 4K cameras, automatic takeoff and landing, and some amazing camera focusing and shooting tricks. Just a few years ago, these would have been virtually impossible to build at any price, and they’ve quickly fallen in price to be in easy reach for consumers, prosumers, and professionals. As devices like home security cameras continue to evolve, they’re getting smarter and more automated.
  • Connected Cameras: The Netatmo Presence camera is an external security camera that uses computer vision and other technology to detect and alert you to the presence of people, cars, and pets. It goes beyond a streaming camera, and provides better insight into what is in the scene.
  • Wireless Homes: Wired homes are going wireless. Offerings we’ve seen from companies like Iris and Honeywell are widening the adoption curve by relying less on physical installation and more on DIY installation and wireless connectivity. For many people, the hurdle of wiring is too much, and the mass market solutions will need to be wireless.
  • Augmented Reality: the oft-abused technology that layers a digital view atop the physical world, has been incorporated to a handful of toys in a meaningful way — including the Spin Master’s Air Hogs Connect, an augmented reality drone game that could be a great “my first drone” for a teenager.
  • Smartphone Accessories: In the  case game, this year olloclip iterated by introducing a Studio line that turns your phone into an all-in-one production studio — complete with rail mount for accessories, cold-shoe adapters, a finger grip, tripod mounts and kickstand. As the cameras in our phones get better fast, people are increasingly using them as “real cameras”
  • Appliances: This year we also saw the big appliance manufacturers continue the trend of trying to force-fit screens and proprietary operating systems into washing machines and refrigerators. It’s great your refrigerator has a camera, but experience suggests manufacturer’s software updates won’t keep up with their product’s decades-long working life. There is a certain buyer that will always buy the newest and most expensive, and these devices feel like they cater to that market. It’s easy to see basic connected smarts being part of every appliance going forward that could alert you to malfunctions and the like, but going beyond that has been a challenge.
  • Televisions are Boring: High resolution 4k and 8k models are on the way, and the color accuracy will get better over time. Consumers don’t care enough to upgrade existing TVs, and there isn’t much content at 4k and beyond. The TV industry hasn’t been able to create an offering that’s compelling enough to upgrade year over year.
  • Unbundling: Speaking of television, the unbundling continues. Last year Dish TV launched Sling TV, the internet subscription service that includes ESPN, Disney Channel, AMC and more. Since then we’ve seen a continued trend towards cord cutting and à la carte services. More services and devices mean the landscape is getting more complex, but they’re ultimately driven by the consumer: they want to watch exactly what they want to when they want to.
  • Autonomous Cars: Are technology companies going to produce cars, or are auto companies going to become technology companies? This year we’re seeing a more deliberate push from automakers, with real-world applications at a level we haven’t seen previously. The NHTSA has 5 levels, with level 0 being human drivers in full control to level 4, the highest, where humans aren’t expected to be anything other than a passenger. Level 2 specifies that at least two controls can be automatically controlled at one time (speed control and lane assist for instance), and these are pretty standard offerings in new cars. Self-driving technology launches at the show were incrementing towards level 4 and beyond. We did a handful of self-driving demos that still showed the typical “merge onto a highway” or “get picked up like a taxi” needs for autonomous transportation. Although the technology has a ways to go in rural areas, city and highway driving will absolutely be impacted by this technology in the next five years. The driving experience and plain ownership of automobiles will be radically different than it is today. With all the pressure from new entrants like Tesla (and the rumored Apple “Project Titan” initiative), traditional automakers are feeling the pressure to deliver on the autonomous future.
  • Note: we saw one guy with Google Glass in four days. YES!

ces-kia

Implication: Consumer products are rarely fully baked at launch, and the best companies iterate year over year. Consumers should weigh early adoption with short shelf lives as they invest in the “next big thing” in 2016.

As for us, we’re excited for what’s next and where the industry is headed. We’ve already brought forward some of these new technology ideas to clients, and there’s 12 months to go until CES 2017.

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the annual international destination for the most forward-looking technology each year, and Weber Shandwick supports clients on the ground and remotely each year.

But we also view the show as a look into what’s next, what’s dead and where brands should be focusing their efforts. This year we logged more than 40,000 steps checking out the amazing launches from the tech world’s brand behemoths, but also digging into the small start-ups hoping to make it big.

It’s a show of bigger, better and more.

Here are three of the top trends from 2015:

Virtual Reality (VR)

This year there were more booths with Oculus Rift VR demos than companies selling the cameras and software needed to create content for the popular helmet. However, there were many companies exploring new ways to maneuver in 3D and IRL realms, including via feet, ears, wrist and shoes. And NFC tattoos. One company was handing out branded Google Cardboard as tchotchkes.

Implication: Rift, Gear and Cardboard should be viewed as a gateway products designed to test the waters of new user behavior and how humans interact with each other, entertain ourselves and experience the digital world. But one-off 3D tours or videos are forgettable experiences consumers will quickly dismiss. Brands must be thinking of their long-term VR plans, even if that’s a test and learn approach.

The Growing World of Smart Everything

It seems to be common knowledge that if a device can send a notification to your phone, then it’s awesome. And enchanted objects — regardless of how life-improving they may be — make non-smart objects look all the more dumb. But with all of the talk about smart watches, smart activity trackers, smart homes and smart wallets, none of it actually plays very well together. And not a lot of it solves immediate problems. There were at least two car companies at CES 2015 demonstrating vehicles that will park themselves when the user pushes a button on their watch. Is that really something that’s necessary?

Implication: Last year, the threat of an Apple Watch loomed over the wrist wearable and smart watch vendors. This year Apple stole some mindshare by announcing a March launch date on the first day of the show. Despite the popularity of certain activity trackers and smart watches in early 2015, brands should be thinking of their device-agnostic smart watch content strategy today. Yes: smart watch content strategy is a thing. As for the Internet of Things coming to our cars and homes, it’s important to remember we’re in the early stages, and without a unified language and data privacy advances, many of today’s smartest products will live in isolation. It’s lonely being a Thing in the Internet of Things, you know.

Ubiquity of Sensors and the Maturation of Haptics

As sensors continue to drop in price and increase in utility and ease of implementation, look for even more smart technology and well-meaning but misinformed consumers interacting with it. For example, we witnessed people walking up to strangers and letting them plop a brain scanner on their noggin without a semblance of acknowledgement there could be side effects — or who owned the data from the experience. But there’s hope, too! The accessibility of sensors means we can start to solve new problems and introduce new use cases for technology we had never considered.

Implication: The implementation of haptic (tactile feedback) technology in our phones, car dashboards and computers means users may soon no longer just use the sense of vision to interact with a device (or experience a brand’s content!). Sure, your website is mobile responsive so it looks good on desktop/tablet/phone, but what does it feel like? And one company has built a wearable sensor that allows ear wiggling to control actions on a phone or computer.

Okay, so you may be rolling your eyes at ear wiggling smart things or brain-controlled remote control cars (both of which we experienced at CES 2015), but there is a completely new generation of additive technology solutions worth paying attention to as we dream about what’s here, what’s dead and where brands should be focusing their efforts. — Greg Swan, @gregswan

More on CES 2015 here:
73 cool new consumer technology innovations from CES 2015
https://gregswan.net/2015/01/10/73-cool-new-consumer-technology-innovations-from-ces-2015/
CES 2015: Technology Gets Personal
http://www.webershandwick.com/news/article/ces-2015-technology-gets-personal
CES 2015: Hardware is Back
http://www.webershandwick.com/news/article/ces-2015-hardware-is-back

ces 2015 Ah, the Consumer Electronics Show: the annual international destination for the most forward-looking technology each year, matched with a frenetic navel-gazing from industry insiders that pales only to the self-aggrandizing swagger of the tech world’s brand behemoths, and big promises from baby hardware start-ups hoping to make it big on a non-working plastic prototype and a semi-polished sales pitch.

Oh, and there are always more than a few gems that make it all worthwhile.

It’s a huge show. I logged 40,000 steps walking every aisle of the show floor over 48 hours, and I’m sure I still missed something.

It’s my third trip to Vegas for the annual tech toy fest. The first was seven years ago (2008 recap); then last year (2014 recap).

For 2015, I can tell you I was inspired, underwhelmed and energized at what I found at this year’s show. This was a year of paradox for a culture in the age of technology transition.

There were more booths with Oculus Rift virtual reality demos than companies selling the 360 degree cameras and software needed to create content for it. However, there were many companies exploring new ways to maneuver in 3D and IRL realms, including via feet, ears, wrist and shoes. And NFC tattoos.

There was more talk about autonomous cars as a guaranteed reality than the infrastructure and near-term, baby-step innovations required to support a more realistic evolution.

The TVs this year were truly more picturesque than real life. Except the majority of programming is just finally starting to catch up to 4k, so buying an 8k TV would be lots of wasted pixels.

I witnessed people walking up to strangers and letting them plop a brain scanner on their noggin without a semblance of acknowledgement there could be side effects — or who owned the data from the experience.

There were drones galore. Talk about smart watches, smart homes and smart wallets. But none of it actually plays very well together, and not a lot of it solves immediate problems.

It seems to be common knowledge that if a device can send a notification to your phone, then it’s awesome. I struggle to disagree with this assessment, myself. And enchanted objects — regardless of how life-improving they may be — make non-smart objects look all the more dumb.

There were an increased number of 3D printers this year, and an encouraging base of 3D handheld scanners and material providers growing up to bolster the category.

Last year, the threat of an Apple Watch loomed over the wrist wearable and smart watch vendors. This year Apple stole some mindshare by announcing a March launch date on the first day of the show.

Meanwhile, the rise in haptic technology is truly amazing, and I look forward to that category growing into our computers, wearables and autos. Although, someone will surely get burned (literally), and I fear miseducation will impede its adoption. I guess we’ll see.

Here are some of the advancements I saw this year that caught my eye, separated into the following categories:

  • Virtual Reality
  • The Future of Hands Free
  • Technology to Impact Your Daily Life
  • The Future of Personal Transportation
  • Television
  • The Drones are Coming!
  • Internet of Things
  • Robots, because CES
  • Music
  • The Ridiculous Side of CES

Here we go!
Continue Reading…

Per my latest post on Google Almanac: Google Glass Makes You a Celebrity (In the Right Settings), check this out…

What's that thing on your face?

I have at least 10 more of these pics, including more with multiple folks in the shot!

I’m thinking about starting AreYouTakingAPictureOfMe.Tumblr.com

Also: this…

Google Glass celebrity

IMG_7265If my Grandpa was still alive he would be turning 100 this year.

A common saying when I would go visit my grandparents and show off a toy — particularly anything that plugged in or took a battery was, “What will they think of next?”

And if my Speak & Spell and light up shoes were awe-inspiring, you can imagine what someone who grew up on a farm with no electricity or running water would think of Google Glass and drone-mounted cameras.

It’s not clear who THEY are, but it was evident they’ve been busy as I walked around the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week.

You can see all of the #whatlltheythinkofnext Vines I filmed the jump (and yes, I know they break my WordPress template. Maybe THEY could come up with a way to better embed video in a WordPress.com blog).

Continue Reading…

nestAs Google buys Nest today, it increases the pressure for consumers to decide what type of operating system they want their home to run. And what types of off-the-shelf and add-on devices they should buy.

Is your connected home a Mac or a PC? Apple or Android? The internet of things works best when the things can talk to each other, and that requires a consolidated operating system.

I specifically was giving a home security company a bad time about this at CES last week. I want my furnace, smoke detector, security system, Dropcam, doorbell, refrigerator, oven, phone, cable and internet provider to all speak to each other.

But right now I’m locked into contracts with a handful of service providers who do not sell the best and most innovative connected home products. And of course, they don’t talk to each other. Because that’s not something expected, until recently.

The new situation is quite literally the Mac vs. PC and Apple vs. Android wars, except this time the battle has moved from laptops and phones to your home.

The dominant players will not necessarily be first to market, but instead disrupt traditional thinking and look to scoop up the innovators who are solving problems outside the legacy infrastructure and bureaucracy that has held back the legacy home product companies.

Naysayers will point out that an internet outage will create new headaches and hurdles for connected home users. And they’re correct. And that won’t stop consumers from installing value-adding technology to their home.

Kudos to Nest and Google. Now where’s my tweeting ice maker?

iOptik at CES

Innovega’s Optik system received lots of recent trade press for their special contact lenses that will read the light from projectors fitted to glasses. They were one of my first stops at the CES show this year.

According to Innovega: The key feature of the iOptik display is the enhancement of the wearer’s vision by giving the ability to focus on media that is placed very near to the eye without affecting normal vision. This vision enhancement allows the wearer to view near-eye microdisplays as easily as viewing real objects at normal distances. This vision enhancement eliminates the need to mount large optics into the video eyewear. Removing these optics allows for compact and stylish eyewear products. It is this architecture’s ability to deliver very large and rich HD/3D digital content without disturbing one’s normal vision and from a compact and stylish format visionthat distinguishes the iOptik from all other wearable displays. The stylish iOptik™ form-factor is distinguished from all other display architectures.

iOpik glasses at CES

Except the exhibitors weren’t actually giving human demos at CES, so I had to settle for holding the contact in my hand inside a small glass vial and fiddling with the clunky, plastic sunglass frames while the rep went into great detail about how they worked (see above paragraph, plus you could actually see the hole in the middle of the lens where the eye would be allowed to see farther differences). Regardless of the hands-on demo opportunities, I spent about 10 minutes in the booth, and the crowd was thick the entire time.

It was surreal to hold a tiny contact in your hand and know it has the power to redefine communication, media and how we interact with brands and each other.

iOptik smart contact lenses

Early adopters, like Glass Explorers, are excited about smart lens technology — whether it’s glasses or contacts — but it’s evident there is a long way to go to turn the lens of your eye into something remotely like the display of your computer (or something better!).

Maybe by this time next year there will be real live humans wearing smart contact lenses. Maybe.

Geoff Livingston says the marketing industry is pivoting from social media to the Internet of Things, and he’s completely correct.

My colleagues are growing tired of me repeating this, but I’m not sure this has fully soaked in with our industry peers.

Social media is no longer an emerging trend. Facebook turns 10 years old next month. 10. Twitter is 7. Foursquare is almost 5. Social media is a normal method of communication and engagement in 2014. Media that is social is now mainstream, and therefore we marketers need to be thinking about what’s next, how and why.

My primary takeaway of SXSW 2013 last March was a focus on human + tech experience over social:

Technology empowers us and betters our lives in so many ways other than Facebook Likes and mommy blog posts (don’t get me wrong, I love a good mommy blog post). It was fantastic to see true innovation this year — ambient umbrellas that forecast the weather, replication technology to make copies of physical objects, affordable flying machines (drones), and more.

CES 2014 will be more about enchanted objects that connect to the always-on web than communications and marketing, but it’s not difficult to apply the context of engagement and selling products and services to increasingly connected devices.

If you can put a sensor on something, it will soon have sensors. And it will be generating data that can allow companies to better learn about, market to, and share content with consumers. For example, even our toothbrushes will soon log our brushing stats with our mobile device and the cloud. If I sell toothpaste, toothbrushes or dental insurance, I should get in on that. You get my point.

Because marketing and consumer engagement in 2014 is so much more than real-time social media posts, user generated content and native advertising. On the shift from social to the Internet of Things, Livingston says:

It’s not a big surprise, after all 73 percent of online adults in the United States now use at least one social network site. Really, the only big things that happened last year in social were private messaging which seems like a reaction against public forms of social media and video social networking.

It’s not that businesses won’t continue spending on social or that PR people/community managers will be out of work. Far from it. Social isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s a primary driver of data needed for contextual media and word of mouth trust. Social remains a valuable asset for companies.

It’s just that, well, social media marketing is not new anymore. You could argue that companies are in the learning phase, but last I checked they were still determining how to build a decent website, too.

Plus companies just seem to fail when it comes to connecting with people online. The native advertising boom acknowledges that brands would rather pay to play than do the hard work of scaling social media communities.

So if social media has peaked, what should marketers be paying attention to?

New opportunities for consumer engagement and reach including and beyond social media.

It sounds simple, but it’s amazing how quickly we go back to Facebook and Twitter campaigns in our brainstorm and strategy sessions. Those sessions need to be disrupted by the fact that social media is in double digits now. The kids have moved on, and we need to be thinking about what’s next.

We must be focusing on opportunities like: wearable devices that create new opportunities to share content with context (like smartwatches and smart lenses/glasses), converting big and earned data into value (this may or may not include ingestible smart devices); digital and brand innovation beyond social media campaigns (I don’t care that your brand wished me a Merry Christmas; neither do your customers); and change management programs to help companies deliver on the two-way communication and listening programs they may have started with social media, but now need to mature.

As I head to CES, I’m excited about sensor innovation, connected devices, and new and disruptive technology that truly solves problems. I’ll be tweeting and blogging and posting to Facebook, of course.

I’m not foregoing social media. Rather, I’m building on its foundation and looking forward to the next thing.

Are you?

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