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What Stays & What Sticks from CES 2017

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By Jill Kelly, Chief Marketing Officer, NA, Global Communications Lead, DigitasLBi, and 11-Year Veteran Of CES

Alexa. Alexa. Alexa!

OK, so there are the platform shoes that double as a vacuum cleaner from Japanese auto maker Denso. Then there’s the “under $200.00” smart hairbrush by L’Oreal that listens to one’s hair. And of course, the intelligent toilet from Toto that can seemingly do it all, and clean it all. For a price tag of $10K, I’m hoping it can also babysit and make a bellini.

Then there’s the admirable parade of environment-conscience appliances like Whirlpool’s Zera food-recycler that can turn the carrot tops, orange peels, and left-over turkey meat into rich fertilizer in a week. Eco-friendly products are not new to CES, and we can expect them to get more shelf real estate and consumer attention, with price points dropping.

From the useful and noble, to the impractical; to the fun and the funny, and the straight up dopey, CES 2017 did not disappoint with its variety of neon-lit gadgets, adorable robots, and whispering metal boxes—from refrigerators, to mattresses to the CES staple—the television.

But what now?

For all the CES-silly, there is the CES-serious. And the CES-serious are the things that will command shelf space, consumer attention, and wallets. And these are the things that brands may find worth watching. On Friday, Jan 6, Publicis Groupe assembled the tech editorial voices from Business Insider, Gizmodo, The New York Times and Yahoo Technology, and asked them the ultimate post-CES question: “What stays, what sticks?”.

Here are 5 highlights of their sage views:

Did I mention Alexa?

I Googled “Alexa CES 2017” and there were 3.98Million search results. Yet, Amazon was nowhere to be found on the show floor. They didn’t need to be. Alexa was everywhere, like the smell of a new car hanging over 2.47 million square feet of show floor. One just had to stand still in Tech West to either hear the word Alexa or see the words “Alexa compatible” a minimum of three times in a single minute, in a single scan.

Voice will become the operating system for all things non-screen

It could very well be that “Alexa has saved the internet of things”. Right now, every connected product has an app; multiply that by 40 “things” in your home and it gets old, quick. While we will likely see growing competition from other AI personal assistants like Google Home, what is clear is that voice may soon take over the swipes, taps and clicks into a single-entry point via voice command. It will be the operating system that will connect all the non-screen things in your home, from the doorbell, to the baby monitor, to the thermostat and yes, perhaps even your toilet.

VR has a place, but not a permanent one (yet).

It’s still too clunky. Takes up too much space in living rooms. There are also limits to VR, especially when it comes to the more social experience, like going to the movies. Because VR films lack frames, it’s difficult to direct where a viewer’s attention should be. Behind you, a little off to the right, up? As one panelist said, just because you can do VR, doesn’t mean you should. The net: VR has inched aggressively closer to the consumer’s attention and wallet, gaming being a rich market and environment. It will take time for it to scale in living rooms.

Televisions still seduce at CES

We love television technology, even if we hardly watch scheduled programming or can barely afford the one we already have. The LG signature OLED W (“wallpaper”) is simply stunning. Just 2.57mm thin, it mounts on the wall with magnets. And the operating guts sit in a neat Dolby sound bar that is connected to the TV with a single cable. Gosh, it’s pretty. No word yet on price, but it’ll likely be as pretty as the “wallpaper”.

Self-driving cars still a possibility for 2020?

This was a source of debate. For a decade or more, people have been talking about self-driving cars hitting America’s highways by 2020. And seemingly every automaker—Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Volvo, Hyundai, BMW—is readying, making, preparing. But there are two big obstacles: legislation and regulation. And there is an employment (think of the many professions where humans driving is the primary labor) implication that must be morally and economically rationalized and balanced.

While the above is just a morsel of what’s next, David Pogue of Yahoo Tech sums up CES, and a harbinger of what is to come in the new year (and beyond) in a single word: ARCHIVE: Alexa. Robotics. Cars. Health. IoT. Virtual Reality. And Everything Else.

I have a toilet making a bellini for me. Gotta run.

Happy New Year.