#CES2014: Context is everything

Robin Hassan, SVP, digital strategy at Mediacom Canada, on the new media channel that self-driving cars could potentially bring and other trends from CES.

Robin Hassan, SVP, digital strategy at Mediacom Canada, shares her thoughts on the most exciting launches from CES this year.

While I didn’t get the chance to make it to CES this year, my past experience of managing Yahoo Canada’s Tech channel and more recently, consulting with Tech clients, have meant it is a conference I’ve watched closely (albeit remotely) for the last eight years or so.

The event kicks off with keynotes from major technology firms showcasing their next gen tech and is followed by a massive convention of showcases from start-ups to established consumer electronics brands. Here are the two main observations from the myriads of demos and videos I’ve watched online:

Internet of things, be GONE!: With the breadth of devices leveraging the web as part of their DNA quickly escalating, there is an expectation of the benefits the internet should bring to simplify the product experience. For example, Fuelband competitors like Atlas that can leverage multiple sensors to pinpoint what type of activity a user is engaged in (vs. just counting steps) and then recommend improvements, and home appliances that simplify the cooking experience.

The integration of the internet into ‘things’ as a movement will continue, but the successful solutions will be ones that ensure their user function is focused on creating an enhanced experience vs. just having an access point to the internet. With the plethora of devices we have at hand these days, it’s a natural evolution.

Car Re-Invention: Auto manufacturers have been integrating a slew of technology into their space for years. This year, the advent of autonomous (self-driving) cars had smart vehicles driving into press conferences and around the Las Vegas Convention Center and World Trade Center. While the likelihood of this rolling out for mass use is still several years away, the hardware required to power it has evolved from needing the full trunk of a sedan to the size of a laptop, as demonstrated by Audi’s zFAS circuit in just one year. In addition, the combined news that Chevrolet and Audi will bring dedicated 4G LTE connections and the multi OEM Open Automotive Alliance to bring Google’s Android platform to cars will mean that cars could soon become a new media channel (especially once self-driving functionality becomes a reality!).

This future vision of wearable tech and smart cars is a reflection of consumers’ expectation that personalized and contextually relevant experiences are as mobile as they are. And it means that marketers and their agencies need to be poised to consider how they will prepare today to engage with consumers in the longer term in spaces where content and context will be critical levers of success. Exciting times ahead!