As we continue to preview the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week, Buzz Knight and Fred Jacobs spoke with the man who leads the charge for the Consumer Technology Association, President and CEO Gary Shapiro (pictured here). One of our big questions every year is: What innovation can we expect to see on the automobile dashboard?
Congratulations on all of the work from you and your team leading up to the big show. How do you keep such an operation so organized and disciplined?
Gary Shapiro: Our incredible team works year-round planning CES – from show logistics to exhibitor outreach, security measures, press facilities, onsite transportation, conference programming and more. CES 2018 kicks off in just a few days on January 9, but we’re already busy planning for CES 2019 and even 2020.
You joined the organization in 1981. Do you recall what the new innovations at that year’s CES were?
Gary Shapiro: I officially joined the association in 1981 and recall the growing emergence of various camcorder formats, the beta vs. VHS battle, various flavors of PC and the sudden emergence of CD (I participated soon after in the first radio broadcast using CD in Chicago in June of 1982 or 1983).
What gadgets and innovations that will be at CES this year most excite you personally?
Gary Shapiro: CES is the hub for innovation and the 2018 show will feature technology that will change lives. Some of the major trends at this year’s show will include AI (including voice and deep machine learning), 5G connectivity, self-driving tech, smart cities, smart home, robotics, AR, VR, biometrics, security, sports and more.
Many don’t realize the original name of the organization was the Radio Manufacturers Association, 90-plus years ago. Does the organization still have an affinity to radio?
Gary Shapiro: Absolutely. Audio is a major component in today’s immersive entertainment experience and radio was the bedrock that first brought quality sound into our lives – giving us entertainment at home, in our car, and on the go. CES 2018 will feature more than 400 high-end audio companies bringing immersive, high-res sound with exhibitors including CEVA and Clear Inc.
You lead the CTA by such a great example when it comes to the topic of innovation. How can the radio industry learn from CES and foster innovation in our own organization and our industry?
Gary Shapiro: My motto for years has been “innovate or die.” It applies to businesses and industries. It may sound harsh, but it certainly rings true. Innovation must be viewed as an opportunity to grow. The strongest don’t succeed – the most adaptable do. What if 30 years ago radio viewed itself as a medium to reach self-defined interest groups and jumped on the Internet and created a search engine to further meet advertiser needs? As an association head running a huge event, my job is to bring business opportunities to our industry. That’s why we continue to reinvent the show, redefine the industry and even be willing to change our name to reflect where we want to be rather than where we are.
Are there any new examples of partnerships that we will see this year at CES?
Gary Shapiro: We partnered to create a Smart Cities focus and we partnered with the Prince of the Netherlands to bring Dutch start-ups to the CES and we have a partnership behind virtually every new marketplace. We partner because we need and want expertise and new ideas that we simply can’t manufacture internally. Increasingly, in the technology space every successful company partners because the days of stovepipe organization success is over. The magic of CES is the partnerships across industries that are formed. It inspires new ways of thinking and ideas which naturally lead to partnering. Nearly every major industry participates in CES and countless partnerships are forged as a direct result of the show. It’s always exciting to hear what partnerships are announced at CES and over the past few years we’ve seen exciting announcements come from major brands partnering with the innovative startups in our Eureka Park area. The 2018 show will be no exception.
As the auto dashboard continues to evolve, how many OEMs will be in attendance and what will we see at CES this year?
Gary Shapiro: CES is a self-contained auto show. The automotive footprint at CES would make it the fifth-largest stand-alone auto show in the U.S. For CES 2018, more than 400 vehicle technology companies will debut new product, including 11 automakers with a CES presence: BMW, FCA, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes, Nissan, Toyota, and VW, as well as an entire area dedicated to self-driving technology.
Last year, voice-command technology was everywhere at CES – will these gadgets and their applications have a wider role this year?
Gary Shapiro: Voice and speech recognition will push the mainstream in 2018. At CES 2018, we’ll see advancements in speech recognition that are changing the way we interact with technology, and becoming more prevalent across devices, especially cars.
We’re leading two tours with radio execs this year at CES. What would you say to a radio station owner or C-suite executive who’s never been to CES? What’s in it for them?
Gary Shapiro: I’d say wear comfortable shoes, drink plenty of water, and know that objects in Las Vegas are further away than they appear. Allow some time for serendipity. CES is the largest global technology event. Every major tech company is at the show, which spans 2.7 million net square feet with 3,900 exhibiting companies.
The show is where business gets done. CES draws more than 170,000 global attendees, including some 68,000 senior-level executives. Deals are made, partnerships are forged, and jobs are created. Entertainment, content, and advertising executives utilize their time at the show to see next-gen innovation, create partnerships, and build brands.
Of course, it’s not just happening at the LVCC. Can you touch on Eureka Park as well as the C-Space and why it’s worth leaving the convention center to check them out?
Gary Shapiro: C-Space brings together the world’s innovators, content creators, marketers, and creatives to discover disruptive trends and how they are going to change branding, entertainment, and consumer behavior. Major brands like Twitter, Google, AOL, Facebook, Amazon and more now use the program to conduct business and reach their target audiences. C-Space at CES 2018 will feature more than 60 exhibitors, including Bing, eBay Advertising, Dell, Google, Hulu, NBCU, Samsung Ads, Spotify, Snap Inc., Vevo, Skullcandy, and Warner Bros.
Eureka Park is the startup hub at CES. I urge your readers to explore Eureka Park and see a few of the 900 start-ups there. It is inspiring! Investors come to Eureka Park to find their next unicorn, media come for their next story, and business visionaries come to look for partnerships and acquisitions.
With the rapid pace of change, look into your crystal ball and tell us what CES looks like in five years?
Gary Shapiro: I relish the prospect! Much will change. AI and robotics are the future. The revolution of new products and services powered by 5G will reshape the way consumers live, work, and play. Connectivity and mobility impact nearly every technology category and will fuel advancements in drones, augmented, and virtual reality and more.