Another year, another CES. And the excitement and innovation in the air is palpable.
CES 2019 by the numbers is daunting.
4,500 exhibiting companies
180,000+ attendees from more than 155 countries
1,100+ startups in Eureka Park
And 6,500 members of the media all running around trying to cover it.
CES doesn't just fill the cavernous Las Vegas Convention Center. It has now spread to what they call Tech West and Tech South – eight additional venues of gadgets, sessions, and exhibits.
And already I am being asked by friends and colleagues who couldn't make the trek:
What's the coolest device or technology you've seen at CES?
It's early yet – tomorrow starts our three tours of broadcast radio executives. So, there's a lot more to see and do. And I haven't had my annual breakfast yet with CES maven emeritus, Jerry Lee. So, stay tuned for updates.
But it's not difficult to predict the major trends, especially because of the pre-publicity, the hype, and the fact this is my 10th year roaming the halls, conference centers, casinos, steak houses, and exhibit space. You don't have to be wallowing in all that is CES here in Las Vegas to have a sense for what people will be talking about throughout the rest of 2019.
That's why when I ran across Tom Fishburne's clever and timely “Marketoonist” strip on the plane yesterday, it stopped me cold. As Tom often does, he's able to sum up a major trend in just a handful of panels.
But with all the technology on display, there is something often in short supply at CES:
The technologists, engineers, bootstrap inventors, and even the crackpot dreamers can only take us so far. Without an overriding strategy and purpose to all this stuff, it just doesn't work, make our lives better, and make a difference.
I can't count the number of times broadcast executives have lamented the lack of strategy – even though many have spent considerable dollars, time, and resources into tech investment.
“We need a connected car strategy.”
“We need a data strategy.”
“We need a voice strategy.”
“We need a podcasting strategy.”
“We need a social media strategy.”
These are not isolated statements, but instead, come up again and again in radio circles. And in fact here at CES, we hear many of these same statement echoed by technologists, marketers, engineers, and C-suite execs.
Someone reminded me that Artificial Intelligence only exists because we often fail to use the God-given intelligence we already have – our “pre-wired” brain power, our street smarts and the knowledge we accrue along the road of life – from reading, learning, listening, experiencing, and by doing. As powerful as AI is – and will be – it is still flawed.
The other night at dinner, Erica Farber pulled out her iPhone in between courses to show me the video below – an accident earlier this week where a Tesla on autopilot destroyed a Promobot, a robot that's become ubiquitous here at CES. I'll warn you in advance: it's raw and shocking.
It may be the first case of “robotricide” on record. And of course, it happened at CES. Judging by the engineer who tries – but is too late – to save the Promobot, it is obvious us humans can get attached to these near-human machines.
I'm hoping the next few days here at CES will be calmer, and that everyone's technology will work flawlessly. But I also know that without our collective ability to connect those dots and apply what we learn to the challenges and opportunities facing media and entertainment, a trip to CES is no more valuable than attending “Six Flags” or “Sea World.”
Now, more than ever.
Thanks again, Erica!
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,200 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.
Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.