Gearing up for his annual visit to CES in Las Vegas, Beasley Media Group Vice President of Programming Buzz Knight recently interviewed Jim Barry, media spokesperson for the Consumer Technology Association. Another year of fascinating technology is up ahead and here’s what Barry expects to be hot in tech in 2017.
Buzz:: How are things shaping up for CES?
Barry: We’re starting to gear up for CES 2017 and I am really excited about this. This is the 50th anniversary of CES. It started in 1967 when the brand new technology was things like 8-track tapes and cassette tapes and colored TV. So we have come a little ways since then for CES 2017.
Buzz: No 8-tracks anymore Jim? Wait isn’t there a comeback?
Barry: Well you can go on e-Bay or Craigslist and maybe find something like that, but it’s really interesting. You know, CES has really grown into the place that where, in January, people come from all over the world. There are over 160,000 people from over 140 countries or so, in about 40 football fields of exhibit space, and you, having been there a number of years Buzz, know how big it is and how difficult it can be to cover CES. But it is the place for innovation. It’s all about innovation and it comes together every January in Las Vegas.
Buzz: There is a great spirit that is there around the innovation, that’s certainly is one of the great things that I love about it, and this year with what I think is on the horizon, talk about what you think we might be seeing around the “Internet of things,” Jim.
Barry: The Internet of things is a phenomenon of things that has really started to grow the last couple of years and it basically means just about any object can be connected to another object that can be connected to “the cloud,” the Internet, or to a smart phone for control. We have had everything from smart basketballs to smart baby booties at the Consumer Electronics Show the last couple of years and this is a huge change. This is really a culmination of digital technology getting smaller, sensors getting smaller, and wireless technology getting better so you can connect to all of these devices. We are going to see a lot more of these IOT, Internet of things, devices this year at CES.
Buzz:: Well another category that has just blown up, I think year to year and I expect it is going to be a big focus this year, is health and fitness.
Barry:Health and fitness, again is part of that Internet of things, where you can get smart watches or fitness wristbands or you can get wireless blood pressure monitors that connect to your smart phone so you can keep track of your blood pressure and then send that off to your doctor, for instance. A lot of the things you used to have to go to the doctor’s or a hospital for to accomplish for your personal health, you can do at home using this new technology and staying connected. We are going to see a lot more of these health and fitness products at this CES 2017.
Buzz: Another area that grows each year, and I am certain that we are going to see big changes in this area, is virtual reality. What do we have there?
Barry: As far as virtual reality, we are expecting three-quarters of a million virtual reality headsets to be purchased in 2016, through the holiday’s in particular. You know that prices are way down on those. You really have two things going on in virtual reality. You have the headsets that you slip a smart phone into and that transports you somewhere else, or you have the ones like the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vibe that you plug into a PC, and that really transports you to some other place, so that is virtual reality. The other thing we are seeing a lot of is what’s called augmented reality or mixed reality, and that really combines physical reality and projects either an object or a character onto that. Think of Pokémon Go. Now that was a very rudimentary effort at augmented reality. We are going to see a lot more of that at CES in the coming years.
Buzz: And then one of the areas that certainly we focus on a lot, being in the audio business, is what’s happening in the connected car, and obviously autonomous driving. What can we expect this year at the show?
Barry: More of the same. Autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles. You know, just a few years ago some of my old-timer buddies say we came to CES and an auto show broke out, and that is really what has happened. Nine of the top automakers were there. One of the automaker keynotes described the platform for consumer electronics for the 21st century, and that’s really panning out. One of the amazing things that I found is just a few years ago we were talking about autonomous vehicles being 10 or 20 years away; well it’s here, it’s coming, and the combination of some other great technologies and applications like the sharing economy. For instance, Uber with driverless vehicles that they are testing right now in Pittsburgh, you have beer trucks delivering beer without a driver, this type of stuff is already happening. This is one of those phenomena that I see where they kind of percolate along for quite a while, then suddenly seem to be everywhere. I think the autonomous vehicles are one of those areas that we are going to see a lot more of at this year’s show.
Buzz: Then one of my favorite areas where the spirit of innovation really shines through, and it’s raw but it’s so cool, is Eureka Park.
Barry: Eureka Park is one of my favorite parts too. This is an area that started about five years ago, could have been six, but we have 50 companies, and to say they are companies is really a stretch. In many cases, it was a guy and a gal, or two guys and two gals, with an idea for a better electronic mouse trap, and we created this space at CES called Eureka Park. These are folks that are coming, not for seeing their retailers and all their distributers and so forth like the big companies are doing, they are looking for venture capital or angels, they are looking for investments. So this year there are 600 companies at Eureka Park, so this is a key to what CES is all about. It’s about innovation and where innovation comes to market. I’m really excited to see what’s there this year.
Buzz: So it’s the incredible spirit of the show, the innovation, the raw energy, the enthusiasm around it. Great take away for any company, particularly the radio industry, to be inspired by. You know I always look forward to it and I’m looking forward to being out there again this year Jim.
Barry: I look forward to seeing you there.
Buzz: Thank you.
Buzz Knight is the Vice President of Programming for Beasley Media Group . Knight was named among “Best Programmers” by Radio Ink Magazine in 2007 and 2010. He has served on the programming subcommittee of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and is currently a member of the Nielsen Radio Advisory Council and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) COLRAM Committee.