CES 2016 Virtual and Actual Insanity

January 19, 2016 | Blake Lawrence | Industry Info

This year’s Consumer Electronic Show, dubbed CES 2016, finished over a week ago and I’m still feeling the effects of its cataclysm. That’s how long it’s taking me to digest the scope and scale of the largest show in Las Vegas. But I perceive CES not as just a show, it’s an event-horizon with the future of the tech industry emerging from the quasar. It’s like stepping directly into the Internet to get a glimpse at new, innovative gadgets soon-to-be or never-to-be on the market.

If you have not been, attending CES is similar to viewing multiple, fast-cut, 45-second promo videos while being submerged in the media monster of the 21st Century–the age of digital. It’s Virtual Insanity at the Las Vegas Convention Center, which around this time has a square footage equivalent to 50 football fields of innovation. And like the Internet, the show was over-saturated with information and overwhelming with technical creativity. But unlike today’s Internet, CES is a holistic sensory experience, without a single of the five senses excluded.

At CES, you become surrounded by technology that demands your attention, no matter how short-spanned it is. You look to your right and see an amazing holographic light show, to your left a motion-sensing oceanic spectacle, up above an extraterrestrial-looking mechanical bird thing, and down below at a smart-something, smart anything, really. What makes CES so beautiful, but also frustrating, is that you want to familiarize yourself with every virtual world, but in just four days, that’s physically impossible (much like processing every piece of news, cat gif or sarcastic meme on the internet is).

VR and AR were undoubtedly the most prevalent themes at the show. Rift headsets and various AR glasses are the iPhones of CES–on almost every person’s head, all the time. This draws the consumer in like an iPhone never could in the past: it consumes you instead of you consuming it. If CES is a true predictor of what’s to come, pretty soon people will choose to live in these mediums over our own physical reality; some are already trying.

As I walked the grounds looking for modern tech that emotion studios can use for our clients, I sometimes wished that I was doing it through VR goggles–communicating with clients and like-minded media enthusiasts to see where the interactive entertainment realm is going, but doing so while swimming through the Rifty abyss (Not to mention after a couple days on my feet, this method would have been much preferred). Will the future of movies be made up of holograms, that you can literally walk up to and around, being surrounded by the story’s backdrop? Or perhaps it will be much like my professional fantasy at CES–walking from booth-to-booth with an Oculus Rift, tripping over the next ‘big’ invention. Oh wait, that’s just a hoverboard. The most noticeable positive at CES, however, with the future takeover of VR and AR glasses: people will be looking up and around, instead of down at their phones… Plus, the adult entertainment industry there is quickly making the most of its modernization (Link suitable for work, and for wonder).

Drones (or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – UAVs) are becoming so popular that companies at CES are finding ways to use them for EVERYTHING, from selfie-taking drones, to 4k & ReelSense camera drones, to now even self-flying passenger-carrying drones like the EHANG 184, which is the first and only of its kind (as of this publication). Drones are such a fast developing tech that the FAA recently got involved, requiring every drone that weighs more than 0.55 lbs. (250 g) and less than 55 lbs. (25 kg) to be registered with the government for a fee of $5… That’s half a thousand pennies!

The significant drone traffic of CES 2016’s indoor-airspace sometimes even brought spontaneous showcases, the innovators and their ‘formation drone flying’ (or ‘formation drone dancing’) rocked the CES stage. In addition, they’re already trying to figure out drone use for [real-actual] hoverboards, that [realistically-actually] hover.

CES got me thinking: “The most promising premise for the next VR video game: The Drone Wars. The most fearful thought of civil and military drone expansion here on US soil: The Drone Wars.” Only time and CES 2017 will tell.

Lastly, smart objects. Even though the promise has been coming for some time, we will soon be living in a world that, along with VR/AR, motion sensing technology, holograms and drones being everywhere, so will smart objects. Every device we use will be smart, and at CES, this movement is at the forefront of the tech industry. There’s smart luggage, smart shoes, smart bras, showers, refrigerators, robot bartenders, cars, homes and so on. Smart this, smart that. CES was even able to make the process of cleaning up poop smart. But you know what they say, “A smarter tech world equals a smarter tech people”… Or is it ‘smarter tech peoples’? Tech persons?… Techy peeps* – maybe I’ll figure that out next year.


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