i3 | January 10, 2019

CES Continues as a Festival of Worldwide Innovation

Steve Smith

What I saw at CES Unveiled, about 36 hours before CES 2019 officially opened, surprised me. Then I began to learn and appreciate what I was observing.

If you were uninitiated and walked onto the floor you would think you were at a medical device convention. Devices such as a wearable smart breast pump from Elvie; a self-learning snore-reduction mask from Hupnos; ClearUP sinus pain relief from Tivic Health that is "drug-free, non-invasive;" Withings’ BPM Core smart blood pressure monitor with EKG and digital stethoscope; and others were on display. 

No wonder Gary Shapiro, CTA's president and CEO, reported during his state of the industry keynote that doctors and health professionals can earn continuing media education credits for the first time at CES 2019.

CES is now a digital health show, as well as the main gathering for a plethora of industries using the latest technologies not available a decade ago – including companies that still sell products to consumers at retail. 

During his keynote, Shapiro stated that “every company is – or is becoming – a tech company.” I was reminded of that time and time again after I left CES Unveiled, and went through the gauntlet of Media Day events, keynotes and walked the show floor. 

For instance, Karen Chupka, executive vice president of CES, said that companies like John Deere, Procter & Gamble and Raytheon are at the show for the first time. That's an illustration of how CES continues to be a festival of innovation from nearly all industries across the globe.

Shapiro also noted in his keynote that CES is about both "startups and existing brands." The startups at CES Unveiled and Eureka Park are amazing in that they have come up with devices to solve problems or make life a bit easier.

The existing brands are no slouches either. The headlines about CES 2019 are focusing on, in no order, 5G, 8K, AI and VR. And many of the tech brands we know – Samsung, LG Electronics, Hisense, IBM, Qualcomm, Verizon – and others are leading the way.

But as we have seen, innovation is no longer a top-down affair of major companies setting the tone, or as Shapiro said in his keynote, companies cannot work "in silos" anymore. Collaboration and openness are the keys to innovation and commercial success.

One of the lessons is that everyone involved in consumer technology – and that is just about every company and industry worldwide – has contributions to make and share.

That is the lesson that this annual event in Las Vegas every January continues to teach all of us, whether you make farm equipment, digital health devices, driverless cars or drones; or operate 5G networks, use AI or produce major appliances.

It may be overwhelming, but if you are willing to listen and share, you shouldn't be surprised if you and your company begin to innovate. 

January/February 2019 i3 Cover Issue

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