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Blog January 24, 2020

CES 2020 - From the Inspiring to the Baffling

The technology behemoth that is the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Vegas is always a fascinating, massive event. In 2019, 4,400 companies exhibited in a space extending 2.9 million net square feet, CES 2019 attracted 307 of the 2018 Fortune Global 500 companies.

This was my third straight year attending CES and its sheer size and scope never fail to astound me. The Central Hall housed major vendors like Samsung, Sony, and LG. The South Hall had many brands you’ve already heard of with established products, while the North Hall included the “car stuff.” The keynotes and presentations were in yet another venue. The Sands featured fitness and smart home tech, and, in its basement, the hotel had something called Eureka Park where the startups were clustered. I vastly enjoyed Eureka Park because you got to see what bright young engineers were building and could actually talk to the engineers.

What I Loved Most

Delta’s Keynote Address

Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian captivated the crowd with his keynote speech that focused on their approach to innovation and their new seemingly futuristic offerings and services. He shared that only five years ago, their technology was a liability, and now it’s become an asset as they’ve become a leader in the airline industry in terms of innovation.

Bastian said that by first understanding what their customer needs and wants, they then used technology as an accent to meet those needs.


It began with great enthusiasm and focus from Delta leadership who encouraged innovation across all levels of the corporation. The company then conducted extensive user journey studies including scientifically analyzing travelers’ emotional states to learn more about them. They conducted an innovation search looking at interesting tech across industries to meet customer needs. They also used a technology scout to help to identify new players in the tech market.

One of the results of their approach is a partnership with a company called Misapplied Sciences on what they’ve deemed Parallel Reality™ technology - which in this case, allows each person looking at the same flight screens to view their own customized travel information. This is done without the need for special glasses using facial recognition or other object tracking technology. The pilot for this technology will start this summer at the Detroit Metro Airport.

One thing that will slow Delta’s vision is how players in the travel industry work together to share the customer. From a customer experience perspective, the rental car, hotel, and airline industries all want to own the customer relationship. However, to provide a seamless experience, it will require multiple companies sharing responsibility and information with each other. One way Delta is doing this is by partnering with Lyft. Delta already allows for customers to link Lyft and SkyMiles accounts. Using real-time data from both companies, travel and traffic delays will be automatically taken into account when a customer orders a ride, and the companies are working towards a future where Lyft might even be able to deliver Delta customer bags directly to a customer’s hotel - no more pesky waiting for the conveyor belt.

What Else Stood Out

All About Machine Learning (ML)

Almost everything hyped and displayed — from basic sensors to product lines — are influenced by ML. Companies repeatedly explored how they are working to train machines to further understand their offerings. One of the cool things I witnessed was an intelligent cooking system called Julia by CookingPot which promises that along with chopping, steaming and cooking, it will wash itself!

Other individual products are leveraging ML to improve the customer experience or at least harvest information about the customer. What is happening to all of this harvested data? As CapTech’s Ben Harden pointed out in his recent blog post, companies need to make sure they are coming up with a plan for practicing ethical machine learning to remain principled in their collection and use of data.

More Realistic Artificial Humans

Samsung Neon’s freakishly realistic artificial humans powered by Core R3 and Spectra technology were very convincing with eye movements that mimicked actual humans. If anything, they were almost too steady, and not distracted like real humans get when talking. In a press release, the CEO of Samsung Technology and Advanced Research Labs (STAR Labs) said “Over time, NEONs will work as TV anchors, spokespeople, or movie actors; or they can simply be companions and friends.” Ok, then.

3D-Printing Explosion

There were many more 3-D printing offerings than in years past. The impact on the enterprise could be highest from a marketing and branding perspective. as these printers could allow printouts of branded products for kids to create at home, or to possibly print some replacement parts at home.

Health and Fitness Technology

The health and fitness field was very crowded. Some highlights included:

  • The Aria UWB radar which involved motion-detecting software that can detect the presence of people based off of their respiration and heart rate from seven meters away.
  • Commercial EEG devices with SDKs that you can use to experiment with brain-controlled devices, a game-changer for accessibility
  • Teslasuit’s biometric glove to accompany their suit
  • Leggings that will track the exertion of muscle groups
  • Feles all-in-one home bio lab that allows you to do your own DNA sequencing and test for things like e. Coli from the comfort of your home.

Do We Really Need That?

There were a number of headscratchers including a technology that oxygenates the water you drink, a backpack with LED lights that shows the mood of your dog (Isn’t that why God gave them tails?) and some standard TensorFlow demos that looked like something a college student could do in a weekend hackathon.

Unnecessary products aside, I can’t wait until the 2021 conference to see what’s next in tech.

For more on CES or to explore how CapTech can help you integrate some of the latest products and technology into your business, contact me at [email protected].