CES: Powering up the superhuman

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A core belief exists that the ever-evolving landscape of IoT and AI will ultimately help people become "better" versions of themselves, write first-time attendees from PHD US.

Over the four days of CES, we can’t claim to have hit every 2.5 million (ish) net square feet of exhibit space and certainly didn’t make it to every talk or presentations that we’d hoped to see—not for want of trying! But what we do have are a fair few thoughts on what the sprawling technology floors might mean for us media folk.

IoT – TBC
IoT devices were in abundance—particularly products relating to the evolution of the "smart" home. Take, for example, the Sevenhugs smart remote, which automatically changes its control based on what it’s pointing at. It can be the remote for your Apple TV, your Sonos and even your Uber if you point it at the front door, or for the Thermomix food appliance, which can prepare a meal from scratch, requesting ingredients needed, and then preparing and cooking it for you. Or it can control a security system that deploys a surveillance drone if it senses an intruder—a sense not based on inputs you make, but instead on what it learns from you and your families behavior.

All pretty useful stuff right? Right. So why TBC?  This convenience and ease will drastically chance how we approach tasks, but will they become so intuitive and require such little interaction that we as people will lose some of our decision-making along the way?

Let’s get ... emotional
Technology making use of our human emotions and altering accordingly was definitely prevalent in a lot of different forms. The Honda NeuV, (amongst many other things) senses your mood and adjusts the interior lighting or music. Feel is a wearable that tracks emotional well-being, making recommendations to alleviate stress and unhappiness, sending you off to go for a walk or mediate, and Hubble Hugo is a smart cam with Alexa integration that controls your smart home and tracks your emotions from your facial expressions. Perhaps it’s most useful as a baby monitor? It can respond to an upset child maybe even before the parent.

What this means for marketers is that we are managing to move away from assumptive data and instead be right at the point of need, not only in real-time but also closer to the reality of a person’s emotions, meaning we can respond with products and solutions more effectively and accurately than ever before.  

Watch out, superhumans are coming
The word "empowerment" was thrown around quite a bit at a number of discussions we attended throughout the week. A core belief exists that the ever-evolving landscape of IoT and AI will ultimately help people become a "better" version of themselves. Doppler Labs’ Here One headphones sit in your ear canal and allow you to access Siri, Google Now, and even dynamically translates languages for you. As technology becomes even closer to our bodies, the opportunity for brands to have a meaningful connection with consumers becomes closer still. 

The new three-second rule
Consumer attention continues to be a challenge for marketers. With the rapid increase of content and platforms, consumers are faced with an overwhelming number of choices, attributing to waning attention spans. A Hulu panelist noted that the platform has as little as one minute to get a consumer to choose content before they move on to another platform. On Twitter, the time to capture engagement is less than three seconds. The onus of consumer engagement capture lies not only on advertisers to develop interesting content, but also on the platform developers to make content more discoverable.  

AR/VR remains limited
AR/VR devices were prevalent on the CES showroom floor. Hardware and software for gaming seems to have made leaps in the last few years, but consumer content is still lacking in this space. Various consumer publications have been investing in AR/VR content, but quality of execution seems to lag behind gaming. For marketers, this major gap in content quality will be a hindrance in AR/VR adoption for advertising. We may see that publications will begin to partner with more advanced technology companies to develop stronger AR/VR content. Until then, marketing opportunities within the AR/VR space are likely to remain limited.

—Annelise Donahue is business development and marketing manager and Robin Kim is strategy manager at PHD.