Five Go To Vegas - CES 2019

Published on: 16th January 2019

Five representatives from DCA explored CES 2019 in Las Vegas.
With three designers and two engineers representing different industry sectors, this gave a good overview of the show from contrasting perspectives.
Two had been to the show before and could reflect on the changes, for the others it was our first time at CES so we had a fresh take on the products and technologies presented.
Following are 10 outtakes from the show that we ALL agreed were important to share.
Better together?

The presence of Google at the show and throughout the city was comprehensive and highlighted the competition between Google Assistant and Alexa. 

We saw partnerships being celebrated throughout the show, ‘works with Alexa’ or ‘Alexa enabled’ was often highlighted and Google and Amazon proudly displayed the numerous products that are working with their platforms.

Amazon seemed to be really on this and it presented a range of ready-to-go components that can be built into a product you’re developing. It is also leveraging its connection with retail to seamlessly reorder consumables as soon as they’re needed.

Amazon’s retail benefits are perhaps reflected in the fact that Alexa supports 28,000+ smart home devices to Google’s 10,000+.

It’s exciting to think about the opportunities for product design within these ecosystems.

The future of working in Virtual Reality

Intel’s demonstration of two users working virtually together in VR was highly persuasive to the benefits of tackling real-world problems in health, design and science virtually.

Alibaba also harnessed the opportunities of VR through virtual factory visits, coupled with real-time translation of videoconference calls, proposing ways to reduce the geographical gaps.

Thinking has moved on to autonomous car experiences

We saw a shift in the discourse from how we are going to get autonomous vehicles to work and to work safely towards how they are going to fit into our lives. 

The driver/passenger experience was being explored and some really interesting ideas are emerging in this space. Intel had teamed up with Warner Brothers bringing comics to life in 360 within the car.

Audi also showcased a range of film and gaming experiences focused around the car. The major one being the VR headsets that allow users firstly not to get car sick when using their headsets and secondly allow users to play immersive games and films that react to the journey and movements of the car.

The future of 3D sound

One of the things that we all really loved at the show was Sony’s Future Of Sound.

Sony has taken 3D sound out of the lab and into consumer devices. Sony set up rooms where they demonstrated their multi-channel 360 Reality Audio against traditional sound experiences. The sound created with 13 surrounding speakers was amazing but what is really impressive is that they can replicate this in a set of off-the-shelf headphones.

3D sound allows users to experience hearing sound in a similar way to how a musician will experience sound from multiple directions while playing with their fellow musicians in the room. Sony does this by understanding what your ear actually hears. You can see how combining this with VR will create truly immersive experiences.

Proctor & Gamble

A show highlight was P&G who encapsulated the CES ethos that every company is a tech company.

P&G offered a great balance of a striking and engaging stand coupled with a range of innovative new products that were creatively presented.

Showcased on their stand was a Skin Printer which applies make-up to exactly where you need it, covering up blemishes and imperfections on your face. This first generation device was very promising and could become transformative once it is launched. Applying make-up and cosmetics may never be the same in the future.

Great technology great execution

LG were really impressive this year. Their huge stand was full of well-considered products which were beautifully presented.

Perhaps the best example of how to turn a great piece of technology into a great product experience was the roll-up TV. This was a true WOW. A great execution that was well designed and engineered.

The theatre created during the product demonstration delivered a compelling proposition, especially when described by a brilliant narrator…who happens to look a bit like Elvis.

Experts presenting their work brought it to life

With so much to see it’s easy to walk on by but getting involved and asking questions gives a deeper understanding of the products and tech on show. You can find out some great insights this way, like Osram’s lighting solutions for growing Cannabis or the brilliant eye tracking feature on the Audi concept that wasn’t actually being shown.

Companies that used skilled staff to present and share their own work provided much more compelling presentations with the knowledge, care and passion really coming through. This image shows one of the Mercedes team talking about his design with an industry colleague – mutual respect.

Making an impact

With over 2,500 exhibitors you can’t see everything. You have to search out the gems and the design of the stand is so important with the presentation of the products being key to engaging visitors before they walk by.

Some of the budgets for the show must be mind-bending but if you’re going to commit and go to CES you need to have something new to say and you’ve got to get it across well. The more successful stands and displays sought new innovative approaches to engage with visitors.

New technology opportunities

Many technology providers showcased a range of engaging new technologies that will utilise 5G. 5G is expected to be launched this year and industry is gearing up to exploit the opportunities.

It is a realistic prediction that in 5 years time 5G will be widely implemented. The implications for applying this into product design are still to be ironed out. 

Nevertheless, the technology provides an opportunity to take a fresh look at design in what is being pitched as a new age of invention. Let’s hope that we can help to leverage it to make a better and more sustainable world.

Post-show adventure

After the show, we headed off down Route 66 to explore the Grand Canyon. After your senses have been bombarded by the sights and sounds of Vegas - we don’t think there’s a better place to decompress and reflect on the show.