There’s Vegas, and then there’s Vegas at capacity. As full of promise as it is with all of tomorrow’s technology, our expectations from the Consumer Electronics Show are equally overflowing with misinformation, misdirection and hyperbole. Here’s my take on three of the biggest lies you’ve probably read a million times about CES in the health space and the truth underneath.
Lie 1: The Next Big Thing
Many people and press come to CES in search of “The Next Big Thing” and are typically disappointed. Every pre-event article seems to focus on what “The Next Big Thing” could be, and invariably none of the recaps have that single firework in the sky. And I feel bad for these people, because they are completely missing the forest for the trees.
What makes CES amazing isn’t the idea that there can only be one, but that CES is the place where you can see an entire industry sector at once. If you want to see what everyone in driverless cars is doing or what everyone in appliances sees as the future, you only have to walk a few indoor square blocks to find out.
Lie 2: Trackers Are Special
Amid the massive displays from Under Armour and a million other companies focusing on every tracking specialty application, from basketball to running (and feeling awful for the people hoisted onto treadmills many feet in the air running all day long as a demo), was a tiny company from France called sen.se. Their product, Mother, showed us the near future, in which trackers aren’t the proprietary end-game. Instead, you can grab trackers by the handful, as commoditized as M&Ms, all with the capability to sense direction, speed, temperature and more.
All you need to do is tell Mother what you want the tracker to do. Monitor security? Measure running performance? What about prompting a phone call, text, or email if that pill bottle didn’t get lifted today? Sure! Mother doesn’t care what you want to use the tracker for. The jars full of sensors like candy on your grandparents’ end table say more than any brochure; trackers are only going to get smaller, cheaper, and ubiquitous.
Lie 3: Health Tech is Only for Nerds and Athletes
So much of the technology on the rise seems like it’s designed for either gadget fans who are always looking for something new and novel, or for athletes looking for that extra edge in their game. But this year, we saw two bright, shining beacons of hope in 3D printing and behavioral health that benefit the average person in everyday situations.
The biggest news in 3D printing was two-fold: first, scanning 3D objects is now very powerful and much cheaper. You can walk into a booth and in a few moments have a complete 3D body scan. Now, it seems reasonable that your annual physical or a trip to the emergency room include a 3D scan in case of an accident or injury, so that a surgeon or prosthetist can have an accurate, 3D model of you to work from first.
On the behavioral side, Mira is the health tracker that pairs with a behavioral software application. The path to good health is full of tiny behaviors. For example, walking 20 minutes a day starts by putting on your sneakers. Mira watches your habits and lets you know when you have seven minutes to walk, or when you should put on those workout pants instead of pajamas. These tiny moments are massive insights into making our world a healthier one.
So CES does, in fact, have many big things to show healthcare marketers about today and tomorrow: you just have to take in the landscape and recognize the brilliant ideas in the smallest behaviors.