There was something different in the air at CES this year. First, it was great to see the industry come back — biggest CES ever! Last year’s no-shows were a real buzzkill, but the show this year had a really positive vibe, and yes, the show was packed. The second difference I saw was the huge blowout trend of connectivity. Any new innovation of note had the secret sauce of connectivity. This “connected” CES was a real validation for our ng Connect efforts. Not only were our efforts relevant, but it was evident that we were at the forefront. That’s great, because ng Connect is not about following trends; it is about blazing a trail with the power of our collective membership. CES is an event made for ng Connect. It focuses a lot of member effort on major showcase milestones. Through the showcasing of six new demonstrations, not only did we paint a picture of next generation (ng) connected services, but we also showed the new business models that are exposed when we positively disrupt the status quo. As always, it was the membership that drove this home to the throngs in attendance.
Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the solution concepts we debuted at the show. First we take CES, then we take the world!!
- The Virtual Personal Stylist: We were very happy to bring this new shopping experience to life at CES.Working with HFMUS, Samsung, TelePresence Tech, [TC]2, Vidyo, and VisionMax we created this solution concept. It’s really an augmented reality shopping experience that provides consumers with professional, personalized styling advice based on the shopper’s online profile. On the show floor, we had ELLE models who were our “shoppers” and attendees watched as they “tried on” clothes in the virtual reality “mirror” using virtual clothing based on AQUA apparel provided by upscale retail icon Bloomingdale’s, as well as recommendations from editors at the world’s #1 fashion brand ELLE, and beauty industry global leader L’Oréal USA. Some people wanted to try it themselves! A true showcase of where the shopping experience is going.
- Gametime Media Table – With this interactive solution concept, gamers were able to stop by and play a number of different games using an iPhone or an Android phone as the game controller!Created by Alcatel-Lucent, Brass Monkey and MediaTile, this table can also support advertising that could be on before, during or after games are played. At the show we had a speed boat racing game where the driver in the iPhone-driven phone was an Apple and the Android-controlled phone was a little Droid. Who will win – iPhone or Android? Just imagine this new table in restaurants and bars or flipped like a large screen and in the middle of Times Square – anything’s possible! Again, connectivity is the key ingredient, connecting your personal device into a wider physical world.
- Media Hotspot – This one is really cool, too. It’s a new digital age jukebox concept from Atlantic Records, MediaTile and Alcatel-Lucent bringing content together with advertising in a touchscreen digital sign. With it, if you like what you hear, you can instantly gratify your need with a seamless purchase through your phone of the music you just heard. The concept also showed how you can use 4G to enable an instant plug and play Wi-Fi hotspot, and rather than that connectivity being a cost of doing business, it can become a new source of revenue.
- Virtual Concierge – Another play on our multi-platform digital signage theme where MediaTile and Alcatel-Lucent showed how to take customer service into a whole new orbit. The solution concept showed off the notion of a personal, video call center. We’re talking personal access to a wealth of information though a digital display — not some cheesy interactive Q&A, but real, human interaction and the ability to push that interaction and information to your personal device so you can take it with you.
- Virtual Venue – Alcatel-Lucent created this solution concept that allows a fan to experience the best of at-home viewing while in a stadium watching the big game or rock concert. At CES, fans were able to navigate their way on a Samsung Galaxy tablet to purchase food and merchandise that would be available for delivery straight to their seat. In the demo, they could also access instant replays and live video camera feeds via LTE video support. Finding the bathrooms and concessions is also easier with location mapping to venue facilities with a video link. The Virtual Venue also enables access to player stats and supports user-generated content and messaging. Businesses and service providers benefit from increased sales, entry into new value chains through high bandwidth services and increased customer loyalty. It caught the attention of IntoMobile who stopped by the booth and shot this great video of the Virtual Venue in action.
And what would CES be without a party! The new Vdara hotel at City Center played host to a great ng Connect membership cocktail party. We caught up, we made new introductions and got pumped up about the possibilities of it all. Even with all the technology, there is still no substitute for real, quality interaction. We also used the opportunity to document some of the impact ng Connect is having on our respective companies and how ng Connect is changing how they look at their place in the industry. Check out on the ng Connect website soon for some familiar and new faces being interviewed! Finally, special thanks to the member companies who presented demonstrations at the booth with passion. A big shout out to Brass Monkey, infrared5, HFMUS, MediaTile, TelePresence Tech, Vidyo and VisionMAX, who were all on hand putting it out there and showing the power of the ecosystem. All in all it was a great show, so good in fact that we committed to even bigger and better next year. For 2011, more floor space, and a more prominent location. We can’t wait to decide what we’ll have for next year – just imagine. If we can imagine it, we can do it. That is the magic of ng Connect. West out.
Steve West, Emerging Technology & Media, Alcatel-Lucent