The world-famous Consumer Electronics Show Las Vegas: 2.5 million square feet of trade show space, 200,000+ attendees, 8 locations and all anyone is talking about is a TV (well it is the world’s biggest at 170-inches). But what other things made headlines and more importantly, which of them could be making their way to your shelves in 2016? Let’s take a look at what made people stand up and take notice, which of them will make it to the shop floor and what toys are just worth keeping an eye out for this year and into the future.
INTUITIVE FRIDGE GIVES FOOD FOR THOUGHT
As a retail marketing agency, The Internet of Things is a topic we’ve talked about on numerous occasions. This year at CES, it was one of the biggest focuses of the big brands. Consumer-goods giant Unilever talked about smart fridges that can communicate with smart cars to tell you that you’re out of ice cream, yet there’s a nearby store that just happens to have an ice-cream deal on at the moment.
Samsung are due to launch one such fridge in Australia that includes a barcode scanner to record its contents and a microphone for giving your fridge instructions (you read that right) on what to automatically buy and have delivered to you.
LG presented one with a 21-inch high-definition touchscreen that can be used to look at the food inside using a camera, without having to open the door. They obviously think opening the door is a huge hassle as they also put in an automatic, foot-activated opening mechanism in there for good measure.
FITNESS TO THE FOREFRONT
While laziness is always a big hit with some consumers, so are activities and fitness with their counterparts. As usual, brands did not disappoint. Technogym announced a treadmill that plays a personalised track that’s based on the speed you’re running at. While Spotify’s app already has a similar feature, Technogym claim to be the first to implement the idea in a treadmill.
iFit showed off their NordicTrack Escape Treadmill complete with a 60-inch, 4k OLED, curved screen that they claim can give the sensation you’re running in any exotic location you desire.
Finally, FitBit unveiled a smartwatch called ‘The Blaze’ to rival the Apple Watch. However, other than being half the price of Apple’s more popular model, it appears to have little else over its huge competitor. This was something quickly picked up on by their investors, as their shares plummeted after the unveiling.
DEVELOPMENTS IN DIGITAL SIGNAGE
Samsung stole all the headlines this year when they unveiled the world’s biggest TV. At 170-inches, it’s actually a mass of multiple bezel-free screens that you wouldn’t notice unless right up close to it. As it’s bigger than most living-room walls, we expect to see creative marketing agencies help promote this technology as digital signage in casinos, on high streets and even in retails stores that have the budget and foresight to see the benefits of having their brand projected on such an unprecedented scale.
LG’s Signature OLED offering did not disappoint either. Described as “like a sheet of glass filled with light”, these attention-stealing organically light-emitting diode screens are sure to leave shoppers wide-eyed and open-mouthed as it is also (incredibly) less than half the depth of an iPhone 6s!
THE BEST OF THE REST
Any budding Ricky Pontings out there will be interested to eventually get their gloves on a prototype cricket bat unveiled by Zepp. The company is building on its success in baseball and tennis by giving you the chance to measure your speed, angle, swing and power using a small device that seamlessly attaches to your bat. Bluetooth enabled, it then delivers feedback to a connected smartphone to help improve your performance.
At some stage every homeowner on earth has had to deal with not having their keys when they need to get in their front door. Kwikset’s Premis Lock allows you to replace your keys in favor of a weatherproofed touchpad that links with your Apple device to allow voice commands to lock or unlock your door. There’s a host of additional clever features like linking your heating to the front door so it switches off when you leave. But at its simplest it could be a real lifesaver.
THE big pitch of CES came from a growing technology sector that is about as futuristic as it gets. While Google, Nissan and NASA get closer to realising driverless cars on our roads, Chinese drone company Ehang are more focused on the sky, announcing the development of The Ehang 184. It’s an all-electric autonomous aerial vehicle that’s large enough to carry a passenger, without them having to do anything. That’s right, a person-sized drone that you don’t even have to pilot. It takes off automatically, lands automatically, and can even sense obstacles that may get in the way flying over downtown Melbourne or Perth.
AND ONE TO MAYBE AVOID…
After being bad-mouthed, banned and even having their imported stock seized in both Ireland and the UK just before Christmas due to questions over their safety, ‘Hoverboards’ came in for even more bad press when a Chinese manufacturer’s booth at CES was raided by US marshals in a crackdown on an alleged patent-infringement. Despite all this, their popularity continues to grow and with it, demand. So if you are stocking them, or plan to, make sure to contact the necessary authorities to ensure your stock is safe.
A great business has its finger on the pulse. While not all of the above will become must-haves, as retail marketing specialists and store-owners, we both must have knowledge of the landscape and what our shoppers could be asking for in the very near future. So keep an eye out for the above because some day you may be telling your kids, “I remember when I first heard about that”.