Fast Forward: CES 2016 Highlights

This is a special edition of our Fast Forward newsletter, bringing you a summary of the major trends we spotted last week at CES 2016. A fast read for you and a forward for your clients and team.

CES 2016 may be over, but the technologies showcased in Las Vegas last week will no doubt continue to impact the market in the coming months. Here, we highlight the most important market trends we saw and what your brand can do in response.

What We Saw

Televisions used to be the focus of CES, and this year a ton of manufacturers rolled out High Dynamic Range sets, adding better color and contrast to their 4K displays. But the real innovation in television is happening in software and distribution, with Netflix expanding to a hundred and thirty new countries, and nearly every set-top interface supporting universal search across cable and streaming services.

This year cars took over CES. What used to be dominated by the aftermarket is now filled with OEMs. Last year, the story was all about driverless cars. And while that’s still present, this year manufacturers are eager to tell you how quickly they’re transitioning to electronic vehicles. Cars are becoming less like machines, and more like smartphones on wheels.

If a device has any electronics, you can assume that there’s a connected version, but not all of them are quite what we’d call “smart”. Some of the best connected devices were Whirlpool’s new washing machine, which can automatically reorder detergent from Amazon when you’re running low, and Samsung’s Family Hub fridge, which takes a photo of its contents every time you close it, so you never have to wonder if you ran out of milk.

Virtual reality was still in high demand at CES, with Oculus opening pre-orders for its Rift headset on the first day of the show and both Sony and HTC expected to launch their devices later this year. While there were still long lines to demo the major VR headsets, this year we saw even more hardware to create it. Cameras to shoot in 360-degrees were all over the show floor.

And of course, drones were everywhere at this year’s show. Drones that pilot themselves, drones that follow you, and drones that go faster, farther, or behave more like pets. Even a drone that will carry you. This year also saw the announcement that Nevada would house the world’s first droneport by 2018, designed to train and license the workforce of the future.

For more industries and actionable suggestions for your brand (like the two following examples), check out our CES 2016 Fast Forward playlist here.

For Automotive Brands:

Auto brands should capitalize on increased availability of 360-degree videos, which can now be viewed on Facebook and YouTube as consumer-grade 360 cameras grow in popularity. They are perfect for viewing car interiors. 3D printers are also now cheap enough that consumers will adopt them or otherwise have access. Providing 3D models of popular and aspirational cars can let fans download and print them out. Encouraging a community of enthusiasts to modify those models with their own suggestions could build brand engagement and loyalty.

For Entertainment Brands:

For content owners and distributors, Cisco showed off their cloud video delivery platform that allows instant interface updates across cable boxes, phones, and tablets. With the incredible proliferation of content, experiments around discovery are more important and now much easier.

Entertainment brands have a lot to think about as the industry quickly evolves. Integrating OTT services that promote co-viewing like Genii’s Cast can help engagement and reach. Offering downloadable content for fans to 3D print their favorites at home, as SyFy did with characters and habitats from The Expanse, can help spread the love. And as 360-degree videos get adopted both as a new form of consumption on Facebook and YouTube and on new cameras like the Ricoh Theta S, consumers will crave more from the pros.

What You Can Do

For more industries and actionable suggestions for your brand, please check out our CES 2016 Fast Forward playlist here. 

And that was CES 2016! We hope you find something useful in our recap of this year’s biggest tech event. We’ll be back next year to help you sort through the rubble. In the meantime, look out for our Fast Forward updates and events, and reach out to our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett ([email protected]) if you’d like to schedule some time with The Lab in person. 

For previous editions of Fast Forward, please click here.


CES 2016: What’s TV To Do? NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke Has Answers

Yesterday afternoon, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke took the stage at CES 2016 to make a case for the traditional TV business. Facing increasing competitions from the new Internet TV services like Netflix and digital videos, the TV ratings has been in steady decline for the past few years, but Burke firmly believes that the TV business is going to adept and hang around “for many, many years.”

Throughout his conversation with MediaLink CEO Michael Kassan, Burke stressed several times on the incomparable mass reach that TV possesses. “Niche content might work with targeted digital ads,” he admits, “but if you want a blockbuster, you better advertise on the Super Bowl.” He thinks too many marketers have been treating digital videos as a “shining new thing” that will magically replace the scale of TV, and warned against such mentality.

Nevertheless, the TV industry still needs to adept to the shifting viewing behaviors and pick up a few tricks from their digital competitors to connect with today’s mobile-first consumers. When asked about NBCUniversal’s recent investment in Vox and Buzzfeed, Burke said one of the reasons they invested is “to learn from them, to go to market with them.” He regards consumer data and premium content as the two key weapons that will help TV compete with its digital videos.

When asked if services like Netflix were enemies, friends, or frenemies, he said “all of the above,” and admitted that Netflix has definitely impacted the ratings, “but not as much as time-shifted viewing.” He concludes that all players in the content space will have to continue to evolve, and figure out how to get better at distributing content in digital spaces. To that end, NBC’s new OTT comedy streaming service SeeSo seems like a step in the right direction.


For more of the Lab’s CES coverage, click here.


CES 2016: Lenovo To Launch First AR-Capable Smartphone With Google’s Project Tango

Today at CES, Chinese PC-maker Lenovo announced that it has inked a deal with Google to create the first smartphone with Augmented Reality (AR) capabilities. Set to launch later this year, this yet-to-be-named phone will incorporate Google’s Project Tango technologies to let user take 3D-scanning of the surrounding environment and superimpose information and digital images onto those images.

Project Tango, launched by Google in 2014, has gotten off to a rather slow start, and this new partnership with Lenovo could spell great opportunities for Google to push AR technologies into the consumer market.

For more of the Lab’s CES coverage, click here.


Header image courtesy of Lenovo’s Twitter

CES 2016: These Smart Wireless Earplugs Will Send You To Sleep

There’s no shortage of wireless headphones and earplugs at this year’s CES, but Hush’s smart earplugs stands out for its unique function. Instead of focusing on great sound quality or customizable shapes, Hush is designed to block out the noise by crooning sleep-inducing sounds into your ears and help you fall asleep.

Users can choose the sleep sounds of their choice via Hush’s smartphone app and load it onto the smart earplugs, which helps to preserve the phone’s battery. It will also recognize the alarm you set on your phone and play it to wake you up on time. As more and more everyday devices become connected with the smartphone and gain new functionality, we expect to see more smart gadgets like this infiltrate our daily life.

For more of the Lab’s CES coverage, click here.

Header image courtesy of Hush Technology’s Website


CES 2016: ModiFace Brings Next-Gen Smart Mirror To Retail

Smart mirrors that virtually change outfit or makeup for customers are exactly new – Ralph Lauren has started testing smart mirrors created by Oak Labs at its NYC flagship store. But at CES 2015, ModiFace came out with a new smart mirror that brings interactive mirrors to the next level. Not only can it change makeups on demand with great accuracy, it can also be programmed to simulate skin-care, anti-aging, teeth whitening, and contact lens effects on users’ live 3D videos. It even features gesture control in some makeup selections that allow users to change lipstick colors by kissing the camera or changing their eye shadows by raising their eyebrow.

Dubbed ModiFace Mirror HD, it is available for brands to customize for their products and put to use in stores today. For brick-and-mortar retailers, especially those in fashion and cosmetics, this offers a great new tool to engage shoppers in stores and encourage on-site sampling.

For more of the Lab’s CES coverage, click here,


Header image courtesy of ModiFace


CES 2016: Intel Unveils 3D-Printed Connected Dress

This year at CES, we are seeing a lot of connected clothing that tracks biometric data for fitness and health purposes. Among them, the “Adrenaline Dress” showcased by Intel caught our eyes. Its namesake came from the fact that our muscles expand when our adrenaline level is high. With built-in Curie computing module made by Intel, the dress can monitor your adrenaline level based on the conductivity of your skin, and can expand and contract itself accordingly so that it would always remain a perfect fit. For now, it is only a prototype made entirely with a 3D printer, but it points to an exciting new possibility for the next generation of wearables.


For more of the Lab’s CES coverage, click here.

CES 2016: YouTube Keynote Session Promises Digital Video Domination

Earlier today, Chief Business Officer of YouTube Robert Kyncl took the stage at CES 2016 to deliver a keynote session on the growth and future of digital video. He kicked off the session with a bold yet reasonable prediction that by the end of the decade, digital video will be the thing that people spend most time on besides sleeping and working. Throughout his keynote address, he laid out four key reasons why digital video, and YouTube by implication, will dominate our future media landscape.


Digital videos may have started out on the desktops, but it is inherently fitted to transit onto the mobile screens. Where TV has struggled to go mobile, YouTube took the plunge long ago, and now more than half of YouTube’s traffic comes from mobile devices as consumers become increasingly used to consume media on mobile devices.


“Half of teens today use YouTube as their primary music streaming source,” Kyncl pointed out. To capitalize on YouTube’s vast library of music and music videos, YouTube Music Key is now included in YouTube’s subscription service Red. Scooter Braun, the man who discovered Justin Bieber on YouTube and made him into a star, took the stage and shared some insights into YouTube’s impact on the music industry.

Diverse Content

Kyncl also counts YouTube’s diverse content as one of its strength. “YouTube is a democratic platform, which allows everyone to create a video for anyone,” he said, and that’s why YouTube has something for everyone. Therefore, digital videos are choice-based viewing, and YouTube holds the biggest content library for viewers to choose from.

Immersive Content

Looking ahead, YouTube is betting on spherical videos and VR-mode viewing to be the next big thing in digital video. Kyncl invited Nick Woodman, CEO of GoPro on stage to talk about the allures of 360-dgree videos, and announced a partnership between YouTube and GoPro, which aims to help create more immersive content on YouTube using GoPro’s 360-degree cameras.


For more of the Lab’s CES coverage, click here.

CES 2016: What’s New And Hot In VR and AR

With Oculus Rift set for its late March ship date, it seems like Virtual Reality is making its first step towards the consumer market. Besides Oculus, the show floor at CES 2016 is abuzz with a number of lesser-known players in the VR and AR spaces showcasing their newest products. Here are some of the Lab’s favorites.

Avegant Glyph
Elegantly designed as a one-piece VR audio-visual headset, Avegant Glyph (pictured) offers users a personal theater experience that integrates the screen into the band of headphones.

Designed for those with sight disability, Orcam is a pair of smart AR glasses that read out the name of what you point to.

Solos showcases their cycling AR glasses that put performance and fitness data right in cyclists’ field of vision.

Using both Google Cardboard and the Oculus DK 2, NASA let attendees experience a few of their VR apps to inspire and educate about space.

Krush Moveo/ooVoo
The Krush products offer a 4D experience with a free-rotating VR simulation pod that allow users to experience virtual reality content in 360-degree.

LeTV’s LeVR Headset
LeTV, a Chinese streaming service is also showcasing a relatively new and lower-end VR headset that uses its smartphone as a display. The company made headlines earlier with its partnership with Qualcomm on its newest phablet LeTV Max Pro.

Immersit makes a 4D motion platform that moves furniture in sync with the VR experiences users are watching.

Vuzix is showcasing its newest VR headset named iWear Wireless Video Headphones, which allows users to stream 3D, and 360-degree VR movies directly from the internet, as well as two more industrial-facing AR glasses.


For more of the Lab’s CES coverage, click here.


Header image courtesy of Avegant Glyph’s Kickstarter Page

CES 2016: Samsung’s Keynote On Its IoT Solutions

This morning, the Lab attended Samsung’s keynote address to hear what Dr. WP Hong, President of Samsung SDS, have to say about Samsung’s IoT solutions. Here are some highlights from his keynote.

Devices In Sync With Real Life

Samsung is set on bringing connectivity to every facet of the modern life, showcasing a slew of IoT devices it has: its new smart fridge “Family Hub Refrigerator” in the kitchen, the new quantum dot display SUHD smart TV in the living room, a smart car integration through a partnership with BMW, and a new powerful bio-processor for fitness trackers we wear. All these new devices are aimed to serve one purpose – sync up modern consumers’ daily life no matter where they are. The company even partnered with Ascott to develop “the Internet of Real Estate,” where all connected devices in the same building will be centrally connected to create the smart buildings of the future.

Open Platform And “IoTivity”

Dr. Hong stressed at the beginning of the keynote about Samsung’s belief in the benefits of an open IoT platform and its commitment in giving the consumers more control with true interoperability among its devices (or as Dr. Wong calls it, “IoTivity”). To that end, Samsung is working closely with Microsoft to make sure its new 2-in-1 tablet Samsung TabPro S, which runs Windows 10, is capable of controlling the smart home devices plugged into its IoT platform with Cortana.

IoT Brings New Security Challenges

With a wide-ranging IoT devices and an open platform come some great security challenges. To solve those new security issues, Samsung developed Samsung Knox, a security protocol built into its IoT platform, which banks like Goldman Sachs is already using to create new security measures for their enterprise IoT devices. Moreover, it has also developed a set of Security Solutions for its smart TVs to ensure the data transferring between smart home devices and smart TVs is safe and secure.


For more of the Lab’s CES coverage, click here.

CES 2016: Under Armour Teams Up With IBM’s Watson For Smart Fitness Data

Under Armour has been developing “connected clothing” for a while now, and at CES 2016, the sportswear maker announced a new partnership with IBM, integrating the computing power of IBM’s AI platform Watson into its health and fitness app, UA Record to analyze users’ fitness data and give them actionable insights on healthcare and exercises.

Moreover, Watson will also use other data in making those fitness and health suggestions. For example, it can pull real-time weather data from The Weather Channel app, which IBM recently acquired, to figure out the optimal time and temperature to suggest a run outside. This signals an exciting new direction for the fitness wearables to tap into big data and AI to expand its functionality and offer added value to users.


For more of the Lab’s CES coverage, click here.