Social Media a Major Presence at Consumer Electronics Show 2013
As a member of Electronics Technicians Association International, I have volunteered to help with our booth for the past six years at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Since CES is an industry-only convention, each attendee must show some sort of connection to the consumer electronics industry. I have been living and working in various aspects of the electronics industry in Las Vegas for the past seven years, so it has been convenient for ETA-I to have a local member help out at the show. Most of the staff from the non-profit organization flies in from Indiana to run the booth.
I have seen a lot of new trends, inventions and improvements on existing technology first hand over the past six shows and this year was no exception. One of the trends that I’ve seen over time is the increased presence and importance of social media and blogging at CES. It has gone from a mere curiosity and novelty six years ago to a major presence this year. The impact of social media was apparent at almost every booth as each company and inventor had various ways to interact with the social media sites from signs with Twitter hashtags and Facebook pages to QR codes and digital press kits on USB flash drives. The biggest evidence, however, was the Social Media Command Center in the North Hall with its huge screen showing all the real-time analysis of the tweets, likes, blogs etc. pertaining to CES. It was fascinating to stand there and watch the online conversation among those at the convention and elsewhere unfold before my very eyes.
The phenomenon of the ripple effect that a new invention has on the rest of the industry is something that I continue to marvel at when I attend CES. You get some sense of it by reading articles online, but the true impact really hits you when you walk the show floors. In 2009, I witnessed the dramatic unveiling of wirelessly charging all sorts of devices. The invention of an electrodynamic induction device that was powerful enough to charge through the air, water or multiple layers of metal or plastic was simply amazing. At this year’s show, there were several booths showcasing wireless charging on pads, built into counter surfaces, in car consoles and even a pad that wirelessly charged an electric car simply by driving the car up to it. The Wireless Charging Consortium booth especially brought home the impact that this invention has already had and will continue to have. It is only a matter of time before all of our portable electronics are charged wirelessly. I already have a wireless charger for my Nintendo Wii remotes, but it only works for that. The Consortium is working on a universal standard so that any device with the Qi logo will charge on any charger with the Qi logo regardless of who made either one. It will be like the Bluetooth standard that lets so many devices share data wirelessly.
Then, there have been the myriad improvements to existing technology. Tech that was new years and years ago has been re-imagined and refined in ways that I couldn’t have even imagined. USB powered and connected devices were everywhere at CES, for example. Some USB flash drives were so small, they looked like jewelry. Some tech that I thought had gone obsolete has come back into style and was back on display at CES including all sorts of configurations for vinyl record players. Some were so small that the record stuck out the sides of the device, while others looked just like the old wooden players of my youth but with all sorts of modern features including wireless speakers, included CD and digital music format players and even Internet access.
Some of the tech on display was almost invisible and was incorporated into familiar objects in ways that enhanced ease of use and connectivity of the device. The Gibson tent was a great example of this. The tent was full of their beautiful guitars, turntables, mixing boards, speakers etc. Much of it looked quite familiar until I looked closer to see that everything was loaded with new uses for tech such as wireless connections to speakers, auto tuners, amazing sounding-yet tiny speakers and software that made audio mixing and editing easy for even the greenest novice. I was even able to play any Gibson guitar I wanted right there in the tent. I have zero talent at guitar playing, but the chords I strummed still sounded fantastic!
There is more to see, do and talk about at CES than could possibly be squeezed into one article. If you ever get the chance to attend a CES show, jump on it! Also, be sure to send me a message on Facebook and let me know you are coming. I’ll show you around.