The High Tech at CES: Wearing, Monitoring & Paying

Fitness trackers, mobile payments, drones and electronic gadgets for every conceivable use are being pitched to the media and soon to those who would sell them to consumers.

We just finished the first of the two-day, pre-CES show before the mega convention opens later this week and based on what we’ve seen so far, this is another year of, at the very least, technological innovations hoping to resonate with a large enough number of consumers in solving problems to drive a viable business.

Just as at last year’s International CES (AKA the Consumer Electronics Show), Shawn DuBravac, chief economist and senior director of research of the Consumer Electronics Association, which runs CES, opened the official pre-show with a presentation on the state of tech trends.

In a big nod to IoT (the Internet of Things), DuBravac detailed the current evolution of transferring analog activity to digital and back to the physical world. He cited as one example drones that are digitizing physical air space, noting that 100 types of drones may be seen at this year’s CES, which officially opens on Tuesday.

“We’re moving the internet from 2 billion smartphones to 50 billion objects,” DuBravac said to a standing-room-only crowd of journalists.

But the always-awaited event of the first pre-show day is CES Unveiled, where a large number of startups and established players stand at tables in a cavernous room and show to more than 1,000 media members from around the world what they’ve got.

On Sunday, there were high-tech hearing aids (Bluetooth enabled, of course) that run in the $5,000 to $7,000 range, as a starting point.

As last year, several vendors showed various versions of keyless home entry devices (formerly called door locks), some working via the cloud and others just by Bluetooth, from smartphone to door lock.

Wrist wearables were shown that did everything from monitoring detailed aspects of exercise to measuring sleep patterns and cameras that could automatically record your children’s soccer moves, as long as they wore the “wrist tag.”

From a mobile commerce standpoint, the hottest spot in the hall was at the table of LoopPay, where journalists and bloggers waited in line to see the payment technology at work and grab a word with the founders.

I’ve been using the LoopPay FOB since its beta launch more than a year ago but now the company has a case for both iPhones and Android devices that instantly converts them to payment devices, which work at most point of sale terminals.

The interesting thing here is the phone case also holds credit cards so, at least theoretically, a wallet can be left at home. (I’ll be more thoroughly testing this and reporting back here in the near future).

Down at the very end of a long corridor of exhibits was one table with a lone Accenture executive handing out the latest results of some research being released today.

The study, Engaging the Digital Consumer in the New Connected World, found that 83% of consumers report various problems when they use new devices, such as wearable fitness monitors, smart watches, smart home thermostats, in-vehicle entertainment systems, home connected surveillance cameras and security systems and wearable health products.

The good news is that many of the manufacturers and suppliers seem to have nailed a lot of the technology issues in making these types of products function, as least from a technological perspective.

Not sure how many of those introducing all the new products at the event had time to go pick up a copy of the Accenture report. That might help in the next step of bringing what we saw to market.

Much more will be unveiled today, the official CES Press Day, where the big brands show what they have in store for the coming year. Again, stay tuned.


Check out the coming MediaPost IoT: Beacons conference agenda for Chicago Feb. 10.




4 comments about "The High Tech at CES: Wearing, Monitoring & Paying ".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, January 5, 2015 at 9:38 a.m.

    Evgeny Morozov came up with a name for this obsession: Solutionism. Also known as solutions in search of a problem.

  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, January 5, 2015 at 6:11 p.m.

    Good phrase, Douglas, thanks for sharing it,

  3. Jill Kennedy from Manka Bros., January 6, 2015 at 12:11 a.m.

    Let's be honest - it's not really about the gadgets, is it? It's really about CES After Dark. If this show was held in Fresno every year, very few people would go:

  4. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, January 6, 2015 at 1:23 a.m.

    Perhaps for some, but there are many quite serious (and fun) people trying to do some quite serious business here (at least in all the pre-CES events so far).

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