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Anticipating yours, mine, and our CES 2015

International CES expects 150,000 people this year and 3500 exhibits. I will be going -- my feet are tired in anticipation. The show organizer, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), represents the $208 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry. Almost every commercial tech company will be there -- why even Apple is represented by Hyundai and other partners. In fact, Apple’s iWatch threatens to overwhelm the show with its non-presence. Or maybe it won’t be the missing watch, but the yet-to-arrive HomeKit which will dominate the show.  I dunno about that, seems like the show is still dominated by cars. And will those giant TVs be supplanted by drones, wearables, and virtual reality? Or maybe the new generation of smart homes? Appliance and home improvement big businesses still believe in someone, somewhere having an as-yet-unmet desire for a smarter home. That’s been going on for a while, always hedged as the 'smart home for the future' because most homes are still pretty dopey. Perhaps the pipe dream of a smart home has never resonated with home owners – "connecting a bunch of devices that are primed for breaking."

CES is not for exhibitors who are faint of heart and wallet. CES is what it sounds like – a trade show for commercial players to meet each other, build relationships and make deals. There will be startups all over the place and of every type. What seems new to me is that some will be simultaneously exhibiting and also running Indiegogo fund-raising campaigns – like ICamPro – from Dutch company Amaryllo.  This seems hyper-efficient – but some startups and small companies may express concern about the show’s expense. Read this from a booth exhibitor who offered a formula for predicting the all-inclusive trip-and-show costs – he calculated square footage of the booth times 300 -- yes, that equals $30K, and it makes sense. But it is still pricey with no booth, just hotel and walking around -- unless you live a few blocks from the Sands Hotel and can just pop on over -- you have to get there, stay somewhere, and buy food and transportation.

Hope to see some integrated technology that older adults could use.  Anticipating gadget overload ahead, let's sort through press previews and possibilities, taking a look through the CES innovation winners, studying the awards for accessible technologies. As I wander I will wonder about offerings that combine well with others into solutions. Will there be more than these linked examples for home safety and video connection, in and beyond the hype of mhealth and the ubiquitous Internet of Things? For those yet-to-be-encountered solutions, maybe the providers have considered offering tiered pricing versions -- the luxo, the moderate, or the limited. How about solutions that can be leased as well as owned (yeah, I know about cars). Consider capabilities that can be configured for use by long-distance family and caregivers as well as the in-home user. Will tech companies have thought about the cost of high speed connectivity for older adults – even for the well-to-do?  Look for insights from sessions at Lifelong Tech and Digital Health -- all will eventually be on video, discussed in blogs, and recapped in news media. 

CES is a window into 2015 and the technology industry's next steps. For those not attending, CES still matters to those who follow innovation -- let's remember the 2012 blog called CES in Pajamas. The tech displayed may or may not last; it may not see distribution in the US; or it may be too crazy or costly to scale. But as it has done since it was founded in 1967, and especially since the collapse of Comdex, the show still signals what's possible in the tech industry. Consider for example the 2011 CES introduction of Microsoft Kinect -- a remarkable no-touch technology -- even though it may not yet be applied for all the purposes we or future developers can imagine.  Here's wishing and hoping for that same degree of remarkable in 2015.


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