Photo Credit: CES Photo Gallery
CES® 2017 is barely underway, but Las Vegas is already bursting at the seams with big brands, gadget lovers, and marketers galore — all here to see the latest and greatest in technology. And with all the great events happening around the city, Vegas is ground zero for some of the best in brand experience, engagement, and immersion.
We attended the CES Unveiled event earlier this week, where we saw products from Innovation Award winners and got the early scoop on what’s going to be trending at this year’s show that marketers might be interested in. Here’s our first take on what’s hot and trending at CES 2017.
The VR party doesn’t stop
Virtual reality was hot in previous CES years, but in 2017 it’s safe to say it’s completely on fire. Now that VR has a firm foothold in consumer markets, things are really taking off. From content creation to hardware, virtual reality is virtually everywhere in Vegas this week.
VR accessories are extremely popular, like new control mechanisms that allow movement in the virtual world and additional wearables that provide realistic physical feedback to further immerse users in the experience. And, of course, there are still tons of cool VR demos to take in, from the big names like Samsung — complete with a VR experience area that looks like something out of an amusement park — to the smaller companies offering up their innovative ideas. It’s marketing inspiration central, and — based on what we’re seeing — expect marketers to be integrating VR in a variety of mediums, and especially brand experiences.
Consumers are all about the control — and the engagement
Voice control is one of the biggest booms happening right now, thanks to the rise of products like Amazon’s Echo lineup and Google Home. Voice control allows people to interface with computers and even robots in an extremely simple way that breaks the mold of how we typically use them. Consumers can use voice commands to turn off lights, find their keys, write shopping lists, call a cab… the possibilities are endless, which means there is plenty we can apply to the brand experience category to help boost engagement in interesting new ways.
Beyond voice commands, consumers are increasingly all about controlling their lives through other kinds of technology as well — from the way they work out to how they keep on top of an empty fridge (we’re all about the LG fridge that orders your groceries from Amazon Fresh!). Companies are beginning to meet those needs with a score of unique products, including some that harness artificial intelligence, that make engagement happen in situations where you’d least expect it. Event marketers take note: using the right technology in the right ways provides value, even when it comes to monitoring digestion or brushing teeth.
Wearables to enhance the experience
Products like the Fitbit and Apple Watch are the most mainstream wearables, but not all products are one-size-fits-all interactions. This year at CES, we’re seeing a lot more products that have very specific use cases, like a ring that monitors Vitamin D levels and a biometric mouth guard that helps assess sports head injuries.
One interesting inclusion is Carnival as a first-time exhibitor. The cruise line isn’t exactly a technology company, but they’re in Vegas to showcase the way their upcoming new wearable Ocean Medallion device powerfully personalizes the cruise experience — think next-level Disney Magicbands. Cruisers load up the quarter-sized medallion with their personal preferences and then wear it on board the ship to unlock their cabin, locate loved ones, navigate the various decks, order food or drinks, and pay for anything and everything they wish.
Brand experiences have begun to tap into the idea of wearables, like CTA’s experimental C Space beacon that attaches to CES attendees’ badges and provides a heatmap of activity within the C Space area, but the surface has only been scratched. The combination of wearables and the Internet of Things creates unlimited potential for marketers, from behavior tracking and customized concierge services all the way up to immersive brand experiences individually controlled by a bracelet or beacon.
CES offers so much for marketers to see, experience, and learn — and we’re having a blast taking it all in. Check back next week for more coverage on the event to learn about what we found on the show floor and beyond.