This week's pattern recognition from PSFK 

A CES Review (Is Alexa A Tramp? Will Autonomous Cars Fly?)

Another year, another connected fridge. As usual, there were high expectations of glimpsing the future from the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show but, on the whole, attendees were reminded that it is really a trade-show focused on near-term sales. Off-convention-center spaces like the Venetian Sands did present a hotbed of smaller suppliers though, and it's in those places we gained the most insights: 

Time to look over your shoulder,  阿蕾科沙 ?

Will the most progressive hardware start-ups of 2017 be the ones that know how to leverage all the innovative products that are being made in China, rather than those that make their innovative product in China? There was a noticeable groundswell around the capabilities of Chinese companies (and futurist Preethi Mukundan says, don't forget the Indians!). By walking and talking alongside Chinese speaker (and innovation god) Charles Ogilvie, I Iearned about an amazing set of new technologies these exhibitors are rapidly developing. In addition to this, any big hit that the 'West' seemed to have developed over the last two years had been replicated, improved and evolved by the Chinese exhibitors. They appeared to offer better VR glasses than Oculus, and better camera-drones than GoPro.

It seems as if 'Western' companies can no longer develop a new hardware technology concept and expect a patent-pending period of success. Maybe to be successful from now on, it will be better to leverage the ferocity of development in Asia and piece together technologies emerging there, develop services around them and present the complete experience as useful and necessary for the rest of the globe. (Time to learn Chinese. Or maybe jump ahead of the curve and learn Farsi...)

Is Alexa A Little Bit Of A Tart?

Has Alexa got a commitment problem? In Vegas last week, I went from one brand's special announcement of their integration with Echo and Alexa technology to another press conference where a competitor brand proudly announced the same partnership. There were so many Alexa announcements it became obvious that while the voice-tech application had been making each suitor feel special, she'd been enjoying the company and gifts of others too. Alexa integration announcements at CES quickly became became non-news. Amazon's Alexa seems to have spent 2016 seriously active on Tinder - connecting with any brand who swiped her the the right way. I worry she's going to break many of our hearts before the year's out.

To Brands That Do

I did admire the Pernod Ricard innovation team's efforts around their connected Opn system. The company rented a space and built out their booth to present their connected drinks concept - something they had obviously already invested a lot of time and effort in. These stands must be a great way to gauge interest and receive feedback. Pernod's work here really stood out for me: so many brands think that sending their execs on headphoned agency tours will provide some silver bullet to innovation. Imagine if they actually held an idea out on the floor and got people to react to it instead? What would you learn then? Great work.

My 5 Best Of CES 

For the rest of the show the stuff that stood out to me were the ideas that fixed real life problems (no matter how trivial):

No more shifting, pulling and re-pinning: The sun-shade that moves as the sun moves to keep you nice and chill in the summer heat.

Not another fridge! The Samsung Lifestyle TVs that look like art pieces could seriously reframe the design of our living rooms.

The IQbuds earphones can single out conversation in a noisy or crowded area. These devices could be used in the office: Employees can use the headphones to listen to music and still hear their employers (me) when I speak to them across the room.

Mattel's Aristotle stood out mainly because of the security they're putting into the piece, and how they're trying to shield the family's personal information from the rest of the world.

And finally, I loved Ehang's drone that you can fly to work. Hmmm... we've invested all this money into autonomous cars while Asia has been developing better and bigger drones. Could these flying 'cars' become the autonomous vehicles of the future? Driven by iPad, charged at charging stations, no manual drivers (if we insist) and no pedestrians!

Until next year (when we'll see 1,000 Amazon Echo competitors from Asia, no doubt). 


Piers Fawkes
Founder | Editor-In-Chief | PSFK Labs | @piers_fawkes | @psfk | +1 646 520 4672

42 Bond Street, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10012 USA

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