Held each year in glitzy Las Vegas, CES is the biggest, brashest, most celebrity-sprinkled show in the tech industry.
PCR asks Allie Fried, manager of International Communications at the Consumer Electronics Association, what we can expect from this year’s offering.
Who makes up the crowds at CES?
CES attracts all those who thrive on the business of consumer technologies. Professionals from 150 countries attend CES each year.You will mix with senior executives from Fortune 500 companies and reporters from global media just as easily as you’ll encounter enterprising venture capitalists, stumble upon entrepreneurs from eager startups and hang out with avid technology enthusiasts.
How has the event changed over the years?
The show’s 47-year history has seen an evolution of innovations including the VCR, DVD, GPS, HDTV, 3DTV, sensing technology and more. Almost every major game-changing technology product in our modern day history has launched from the CES show floor.
The show is obviously hugely important to the US tech market – how well is the European market represented at the event?
We have more than 35,000 attendees from 150 countries represented at the International CES, which is truly a global show. The UK, France and Germany all rank in the top 10 of our countries most represented outside of the United States.
What’s the craziest gadget you’ve ever seen or heard of being shown at CES?
I am really intrigued by eye tracking technology. Tobii had some really cool products last year. I am also a huge fan of 3D printing coming down to the consumer level and Ultra HD (UHD) just blows my mind.
The big television and PC firms have got ever more quiet about 3D displays as a sector – has the industry more or less given up now?
We are proud that CES has long stood as the launching pad for the latest revolutions in TV and home entertainment technology. We have seen the first generation of many game-changing television technologies at CES: HD, plasma, LED, OLED, 3D and now Ultra HD televisions which have four times the resolution of standard HD screens. It’s hard to believe how crystal clear the UHD technology is. But the International CES, and the industry, is so much more than just TVs.TVs are now only one part of the video experience at CES. Our show reflects the reality of screens and content moving into expanded areas of our lives: cars, homes, phones, appliances, etc.
A lot of people praise the show as an indicator of forthcoming trends – from your unique vantage point what technology looks like it’ll be big in 2014?
Innovation defines the 2014 International CES and today’s major tech trends will be prevalent throughout the show. Some of the biggest future trends present at this year’s event include Ultra HDTV, wearable technology, 3D printing, electric and driverless cars, digital health and fitness, the ‘Internet of Things’ and motion and sensor technologies.
How seriously should the trade take wearable tech, such as Google Glass and the Samsung Galaxy Gear? Could they be the next big thing or is it a fad?
Wearable technology is here to stay, from the high fashion world to wearable tech throughout the digital health and fitness scene. We have seen such an uptake in interest in wearable technology that we have actually floored two brand new TechZones for CES 2014 – FashionWare and Wrist Revolution – where style, sensors and connectivity intersect, transforming standard watches into GPS navigation devices, music players and health monitors, etc. This is a very serious category to keep an eye on.
3D printing has been in the headlines all year – is that reflected in the exhibitors for CES, and do you think the technology will ‘revolutionise’ the world, as some have claimed?
Yes. I am honestly so excited for 3D printing. The technology has been around for a while in manufacturing, but the fact that we are seeing it available to consumers is going to change the way we live. Just last year, my brother gave his wife an anniversary present that he designed and 3D printed – it was a replica of their wedding venue. I think the future here in the medical field is also fascinating and very real. As with wearable tech, we have floored a brand new 3D TechZone due to exhibitor demand. The space has actually sold out three times, and we keep having to expand it in order to keep up with the massive demand.
What would you say to the criticism that some products which make a big splash at CES never see the light of day as consumer products?
Our show is where innovation goes to market. CES has served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies for more than 40 years. It is where game-changing technologies become household names. And as the consumer electronics marketplace changes, so too does CES.
And finally, for anybody visiting CES for the first time, what is the one thing they have to do while in Vegas?
I was actually born and raised in Las Vegas, so I always advise people to stay a few days after the show and explore areas off the strip like Red Rock Canyon. But if you are only there during the show and need to stay on the strip, my husband recommends checking out the fountains at the Bellagio. There is also some amazing shopping to be done and loads of wonderful restaurants to eat at – so indulge yourself.
Date: January 7th – 10th 2014
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Events to look out for:
Marquee Welcomes CES Party The Cosmopolitan, 9.30pm – Close, January 6th
Global Matchmaking and International Reception LVCC, 6 – 7.30pm, January 7th
Engadget Best of CES Awards LVCC, January 9th
Technology and Engineering Emmy Awards The Bellagio, 6.30pm, January 9th