CES 2015 Preview: Smart TV Partnership Spotlight

More and more people are buying Smart TVs — by some projections, there will be 66MM connected households in 2016 — and so the long-developing advanced TV space should finally achieve nationwide scale. Not surprisingly, then, they’re a major theme at CES 2015. With the trade show just around the corner, we are highlighting three of our favorite partners in the connected TV space. They’ll be exhibiting at CES, so stop by their booths and say hi.
BrightLine: Veterans of the ITV space, BrightLine is focused on building rich media experiences for TV. They’re helping brands enhance their content and advertising across linear and OTT (on-demand) platforms.
Samba TV: Samba uses ACR (automatic content recognition) to identify what TV viewers are watching. Their product suite ranges from real-time TV analytics to cross device retargeting. The latter is great for audiences that watch TV while using their  phone (nearly 58%, according to a 2014 report from Ipsos).
Cognitive Networks: An example of a ACR provider focused on first-screen, Cognitive Networks also recognizes smart TV content, and displays interactive content directly under the broadcast. That interactive layer can be used to increase engagement with either programming or advertising. Cognitive Networks just netted a pretty healthy Series B, so be sure to congratulate them.

CES 2015 Preview: Nine Areas To Watch

With less than a month to go before CES 2015, rumors are starting to swirl about what products will be shown and which will be this year’s standouts. We’ve started sifting through coverage and will be paying particular attention to the following areas when we attend next month:
  1. Automotive. This is the year the car finally takes over CES. With a record 11 manufacturers present, the convention will feature keynotes from Mercedes chairman Dieter Zetsche and Ford CEO Mark Fields. Everyone’s talking about a new concept car — an autonomous “mobile living room.” Meanwhile, Audi will also announce two “world debuts.” Watch for press events from Chevrolet, Volkswagen, Toyota, and more.
  2. Smart Home. The automated home will have its own marketplace at the Sands, though the entire city will seemingly be dedicated to Smart Home: expect large presentations from Belkin and Philips, and dozens upon dozens of home automation products — including iDevices’ first-ever Homekit-enabled device.
  3. Wearables. LG will reportedly release its successor to the G Watch, which could also incorporate 4G. Breaking into the market for the first time, HTC will debut a not-smartwatch wearable, but no details are out yet; it’s potentially something in the line of a fitness band. Lenovo has a watch on the docket, but we are holding our breath for the not-gonna-be-at-CES Apple Watch.
  4. Smart Garments. Technically a division within “wearables,” but expect the connected clothing market to get interesting, with shirts, jackets, sports bras, and even socks delivering fitness data with embedded sensors.
  5. 3D Printers. Doubling in size from 2014, the dedicated 3D Printing Marketplace will feature over 30 exhibitors stretching over 14,000 square feet. Watch the space for big moves from players like Makerbot and Autodesk, and expect that the crowd-pleasers will host interactive demonstrations just like last year.
  6. Phones. There are many rumors about Xiaomi debuting a Mi5 smartphone as it tries to take on the American market. Expect to hear buzz on LG’s flexible G Flex 2. No Samsung Galaxy S6 this year.
  7. Virtual Reality. With Oculus Rift, Project Morpheus from Sony, and Samsung Gear VR, the augmented reality space is (finally! Really, this time!) set to erupt. Expect to see VR-themed games, apps, and more interesting experiences.
  8. Drones. Expect to see dozens of flying cameras in the dedicated Unmanned Systems Marketplace. GoPro will even debut their own.
  9. Big Shiny Televisions. Finally, the big screens: joining the rapidly expanding, horribly expensive pack of 4K TVs may be LG’s 55-inch 8K display. Codenamed “Mabinogion,” it will have a resolution of 7680×4320 pixels. 

Keep watching ipglab.com as we continue to cover CES 2015.


Event Recap: CES Unveiled New York

The Consumer Electronics Association held its CES Unveiled New York event today, offering a taste of the upcoming big event in Vegas. Keynotes from CEA leaders like Gary Shapiro listed their predictions for 2015 (wearables: in, gaming: in, politics: complicated), and made a few announcements: CBS President Les Moonves will give a keynote at CES, an area called “C Space” will be dedicated to marketing and content, and Shark Tank will hold an open casting call for entrepreneurial startups.

The Metropolitan Pavillion was crammed with a microcosm of CES exhibits — Bluetooth antennas, the smart home, gigantic televisions, smart fitness, those magnetically levitating speakers you keep seeing but still can’t buy — giving an inkling of what’s to come. IPG Media Lab will be carefully following developments leading up to CES 2015, so stay tuned.

Barriers To Wearable Adoption

Wearables were undoubtedly one of the categories at CES with the most growth potential. With embedded sensors, these wearables can measure everything from calories consumed to steps taken and hours slept. As this Fast Co article points out, however, there are some serious roadblocks to mainstream adoption, chiefly battery life, technical limitations, and “aesthetic drawbacks.” Despite these issues, there are a few things that brands need to take note of in the wearable space concerning media. First and foremost, wearables require a glanceable UI that packages information in an immediately digestible and actionable way. Secondly, successful ones let data tell stories like Nike+ ability to share runs with friends or ZombieRun which marries fitness tracking with a Zombie adventure game.  

CES 2014: Roku Partners With Hisense & TCL To Introduce Roku TVs

Set-top box company Roku took a big step forward at CES: they’ll start to manufacture TVs themselves with Hisence and TCL. The TVs themselves will range in size from 32 inches to 55 inches, and will all be wi-fi compatible. The typical TV will be simple: just a 20 button remote, with mobile device access thanks to the wi-fi and bluetooth. It’s also good news for partners Time Warner and Sky, who can push the Roku in place of their proprietary boxes and encourage viewers to stream their channels through the Roku TV.

The move is an acknowledgement that in the very near future, consumers won’t want to put boxes on top of their TVs, and would rather access internet and app-based content through the first screen itself. While gaming consoles certainly justify additional hardware, entertainment enthusiasts may be moving towards embedded technology within TVs.

CES 2014: LGs webOS To Make Smart TVs Simple

Find yourself using Smart TV software and generally the experience is pretty poor. From clunky UIs to a lack of content, many users have found reasons to not even connect them (actually a staggering 1/3 of owners). LG is aiming to change that with its new webOS interface on its new line of smart TVs. With a simple, card-based design, the new platform utilizes LG’s Wii-like remote to let users point and click on apps to bring up uniform content cards. In practice, it looks like a simple line on the bottom of the screen, with options to click into past apps, or the LG app store to purchase new forms of content. The idea is to simplify the experience that, for many users, has become cluttered and overbearing. LG wants an intuitive, easily accessible, app-based content-first system, and with webOS it appears to have satisfied those requirements.

Beyond UI, content will also be crucial for adoption.  LG was quick to mention its partnership with Netflix which will be one of the first major content providers to offer 4K content to TVs beginning with House of Cards.  With the price point in 4K TVs dropping to $1,000, they may actually reach a living room near you in the next few years.

CES 2014: LG Homechat Lets You Talk To Your Appliances

CES Press Day kicked off with a presentation from LG, the maker of a full line of smart products from mobile devices to refrigerators. President & CTO, Dr. Skott Ahn delivered the initial address which discussed their line of smart appliances.  Thus far, smart appliances have been more of a showcase of innovation as their price point and level of complexity has prevented them from reaching the mainstream.  LG is trying to change that, simplifying their smart line of appliances. Dubbed, Homechat, LG has created a unified system to manage LG appliances by messaging via their Homechat app and also Japanese messaging app, LINE. LG also mentioned that they will be bringing “Homechat” to other mobile destinations as well, so you don’t need to be a Japanese teen to use it.


Interestingly enough, Homechat will create a unified ecosystem to integrate LG products into your daily lives. For instance, Ahn mentioned texting your washing machine, “what’s going on” to get its status like “rinse cycle” or messaging your fridge to hear what’s inside. The development makes tech incredibly human by embedding their technology into the services you already use and in the same manner we already communicate. The more programmable these appliances become, the more interesting this gets as well.

For brands, think of the smart home as a new media channel, where you can connect with consumers throughout their lives, opening up new touch points to provide utility. Imagine Miller Coors sending you a notification that you’re running low on beer and suggesting a location to pickup a 6 pack or Betty Crocker letting you send a recipe to your oven. If you’re brand that has relevancy in home living then developments like LG’s Homechat are big news.


CES 2014: Innovid & Cisco Debut New Targeted Second Screen Ads

Innovid and Cisco are showing their new advertising technology at CES this week. The idea is to target second screen apps based on what the user is watching, and to do it, Innovid and Cisco are working with cable providers to analyze content in real time and identify key-words from shows on-air to serve relevant advertising content onto second screens in users’ hands. For instance, if you’re watching a talk show and the host is talking about tablets, they can serve a tablet-related ad; if you’re watching a commercial about a tablet on TV, the tablet might bring you to the product page to learn more about the device. Even if someone doesn’t have a Comcast or Time Warner app open, they can still send push notifications. And with the partners’ approach of working with cable operators, it’s possible to integrate this type of second-screen targeting into larger campaigns. This will be a very interesting technique to keep a close eye on for advertisers and developers of campaigns going forward.

LG Appliances Integrate With Messaging App LINE

Yes, you heard it right. LG will be debuting LINE chat capabilities integrated into their smart appliances, so you can chat with your dishwasher or fridge. The partnership works to let users command their appliances within the popular messaging app, thereby embedding the internet of things into their daily routine. I chat with my friends letting them know I’ll be out of town in one thread and tell my washing machine that it should go into energy saving mode. It works a bit like Siri for text, interpreting commands using natural language processing.

The decision for LG to work with Line opposed to only a proprietary app, for instance, is an interesting one. Instead of creating new systems, LG is bringing itself into the products and service you already use, making them more natural and seamless. 

Leaked: LG’s webOS TV

With days before the kickoff of CES, an image of LG’s new Smart TV interface has been leaked. It appears that LG will be using webOS, which it acquired from HP opposed to the current Google TV OS. It is not identical to webOS on smartphones, but does include a thumbnail overview of any apps that are running. While the future of the living room remains up in the air – will it be Smart TVs or set top boxes or workarounds like Chromecast – the need for an intuitive interface that lends itself to lean-back viewing is paramount.