International CES is held annually by the newly named CTA Consumer Technology Association; formerly called the Consumer Electronics Association.

Tuesday marked the “unofficial” start of the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show. The convention center does not open until Wednesday, so “Day 0” for the majority of the +150,000 attendees involved traveling to Las Vegas from around the globe, and preparing themselves to explore the 2.4 million net square feet of exhibit space— the equivalent of 50 football fields.

It’s important to note that CES started out as a B2B trade show 49 years ago, showcasing the latest pocket radios and 50 pound television sets. Originally designed to be a meeting ground between retail buyers and tech suppliers, it still serves that purpose to this day, but has grown into something much more commercially — and culturally — significant. In a connected world dominated by screens and defined by the relationships we have with our devices, the keynotes, product reveals, and conversations dominating the show floor are leading indicators of where the future of human communication is headed.

Performics will be reporting from the show floor over the next few days to share the best of what we see. We hope you enjoy this glimpse into the future.

The Future of Transportation: GM Invests $500M in Lyft

General Motors surprised many by announcing an investment of $500 million USD in Lyft. In addition to the financial investment, the two companies are working on a long term plan to develop an on-demand network of self-driving cars. The two companies are also working to set up short-term car rental hubs in the U.S., which will enable GM vehicles for short term rentals for non-car owners and Lyft drivers.

The announcement illustrates the diverse schools of thought in the still nascent self-driving car market. Many established auto manufacturers are incorporating advanced Artificial Intelligence and self-driving sensor technology in their mainline fleets (and in the case of Tesla, software updates), assuming that consumers in the long term will still value vehicle ownership. GM’s investment in Lyft, however, is betting on a future that provides on-demand transportation from point A to point B without necessarily depending on vehicle ownership whatsoever; in this respect, GM is the infrastructure provider to a startup that is disrupting one of the world’s biggest industries. Time will tell if this bet will pay off, as Uber and other competitors also reveal their strategies to redefine transportation.

The New Internet of Things (IoT) Battleground

Last year at CES, Samsung co-CEO B.K Yoon announced that by 2020, 100% of its products would be connected via IoT (short for the Internet of Things, meaning that objects will be connected to the Internet to collect and send data). At the time the statement sounded ambitious, but the past 12 months have proven that IoT may be the most competitive battleground since the early days of smartphone wars.

Google’s Nest and its Weave platform are now in direct competition with Amazon and its Alexa platform, which is integrated into its popular Echo and Fire TV (OTT) products, as well as Samsung’s SmartThings and ARTIK platform, among others. In a surprise announcement on Sunday, Mark Zuckerburg announced his intention to build a real life “Jarvis” (referencing Iron Man), a combination of IoT and Artificial Intelligence for the home.

The acceleration of development in the Internet of Things space means that the Home has been identified as a new battleground, and the data collected by our household purchases and our conversations with our devices will be just as, if not more, valuable than data collected from the Internet.

Drones Descend on CES 2016

Drones will be everywhere at CES this year. They are becoming more a mainstay at the show, with around 100 new models expected to be announced at CES 2016. There was even a drones rodeo today, with 25 manufacturers showing off their wares out in the desert. Some are bigger and more elaborate, others are more streamlined and affordable.

Some of the models to watch out for include the Parrot DISCO, which is the first wing-shaped Drone that apparently drone you can pilot with no learning process, and the Lily Camera, which is being marketed as a camera, rather than a drone. Think remote controlled GoPro cameraman.

Of particular interest for the marketing community is research unveiled today by the Consumer Technology Association. Drone buyers in the US are serious purchasers of tech: drone buyers each spent an average of $2,890 in online tech in the past 12 months. That’s four times more than that of non-drone buyers!

January 6, 2016

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