From showerhead voice assistants to toilet-paper delivering robots, CES never disappoints when it comes to technology that makes us go “hmmmm.” This year’s parade of innovation, however, seemed to turn a corner from tomorrowland prototypes with sideshow appeal to real-world products with profound potential.
THE 8K INEVITABLE
Starting with home entertainment, it’s clear 4K is the new minimum resolution for most TV shoppers while 8K is the destination for 2020’s early adopters. Manufacturers such as LG, Sony and Samsung trotted out compelling 8K picture demos and countered content naysayers with advanced algorithms and next-gen processors that deliver an impressive upscaled picture. As further proof of 8K’s ascension, Sharp presented a working micro-four-thirds 8K camera for the consumer market ahead of rivals Nikon, Canon, Sony and Panasonic, who all plan competitive releases over the next two years.
A 5G FABRIC
Our appetite for streaming content and compulsion for content creation will continue pushing the 8K arms race forward. Of course, the escalating battle for hardware and software supremacy might prove futile without a network capable of moving vast amounts of information at life speed. Unfortunately, the shiny promise of a 5G future–faster data speeds, a reduction in lag time, and greater density for smart devices–remained a hopeful vision at this year’s CES. It appears the biggest barrier to ubiquitous 5G is the need to repurpose spectrum from 4G to 5G, which can only come after wider consumer adoption of 5G devices. In the meantime, carriers will work to expand 5G coverage through phased rollouts of limited geographies and priority public spaces.
Thankfully, it appears manufacturers may crack the 5G chicken-and-egg problem in 2020 through a tour-de-force pipeline of compatible products. From phones to drones, artificial intelligence to autonomous transport, the standout products of CES all depend on a complete, continuous and coordinated connection across an ecosystem of people, places and things.
INSIGHT FROM INNOVATION
In this brave, blazingly smart new world, we as marketers have an unprecedented opportunity. Very soon, the new standard for storytelling will be the hyperreal canvas of an 8K display, and the realm of brand experience will expand to include any object with a 5G antenna and permission to access consumer data in an instant.
Reflecting on CES and all of its techy wonders, it’s important to remember the purpose of innovation–especially as it relates to marketing. One might be tempted to ask: “How does a brand connect with all of this cool stuff?” But here’s a better question: “How can this cool stuff help a brand connect with its customer?” Innovation should start with a human objective. High-resolution screens powered by data-rich networks are truly amazing, but they’re only a means to achieve the ultimate goal: high-resolution human experiences powered by value-rich customer journeys.