CES 2017, a (s)trip to remember

Over the 4 days from the 5-8 January 2017, we paced the long aisles of the iconic 50th Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Given the scale of the show, we were able to take stock of what the world’s leading players on the tech and innovation scene have to offer.

CES is not your average show. Covering hundreds and thousands of square metres across 3 different sites from the North to the South end of the Strip (oh yes, they make us tourists go the distance), the latest edition tallied up no less than 3,800 exhibitors and 175,000 visitors. Compared to CES, prolific shows such as New York’s NRF Retail, Barcelona’s MWC and the Las Vegas IBM InterConnect might even be seen as small. For precisely this reason it’s sadly impossible to see everything. So, what should we take away from the experience? Essentially, that the show requires a good deal of preparation to be able to attend as many of the talks as desired as well as discovering the different booths selected prior to the show.

Whilst CES remains a consumer show at heart, the B2B aspect is still very important. You’ll mainly see investors looking for their next project, start-ups seeking out suppliers to drive their business and clients in company of their ecosystem of partners.

The French presence at CES 2017 was certainly a force to be reckoned with, where a total of 275 companies, 233 of which were start-ups, showcased their innovations. An impressive 178 of them were brought together at Eureka Park under the French Tech label. Altogether at CES 2017, France was proud to be the third most represented country after the US and China. Naturally, a significant number of French visitors also made the trip to Eureka Park to pay the companies a visit.

CES 2017 trends

This year, 3 hero approaches to tech stood out from the rest:

  • Virtual and augmented reality were the true stars of the show. These caught the interest of both consumers and professionals. The main uses of VR showcased at CES essentially covered the leisure, health and industry sectors. Of note: the strong maturity of the tech on display, including several 360° videos, and the somewhat limited uses of augmented reality due to an unfortunate lack of content, which was a shame.
  • Connected objects and artificial intelligence were also given pride of place at CES. IoT and AI have been doing their best to work their way into our everyday lives, through the use of digital personal assistants, voice-command connected objects, image recognition, contextual analysis, and intelligent platforms. But some products clearly stole the show, such as Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant which connects to objects around the home. And how can we forget the leading American cruise operator Carnival, whose wearable Medallion offers an end-to-end personalised customer experience. Whether at home or during the cruise and beyond, it’s suitable for use with each brand under the Carnival name.
  • Lastly, drones were the must-be-seen innovations of CES, particularly for their use within the professional realm. However, manufacturers have their work cut out for them, in the quest for obtaining stabilisation, assembling precise cameras and reaching user autonomy. Amongst the most surprising initiatives, we saw drones being used as a means of transport (see the ehang 184 mini-helicopter) as well as submarine drones for repairing ships, or even for deep-sea fishing!

Other than these three main points of interest at CES, other technologies were also given pride of place, such as domestic robots with, sadly, limited human interaction and motor functions (due to background noise, mainly). Connected and self-driving cars gave us a surprising glimpse into the future, and several new connected devices were revealed. We also discovered BMW’s i Inside Future, the futurist passenger cockpit/passenger interior space with a moss-floor, integrated bookshelf and, above all, holographic screens. Wow factor guaranteed.

Sport Tech and Smart Home in full swing

If there is one fundamental development to take away from CES, it’s that the “tech approach” is very clearly transforming into an e-marketplace. All anyone is talking about today is Beauty Tech, Sport Tech, Sleep Tech, Smart Home, etc, etc. We can safely say that marketing is back!

  • Sport tech and its array of new products such as wearable devices, connected clothes, geotrackers, virtual coaching, etc. Whether it’s a device, clothing or accessories, sport is at the very heart of innovation.
  • The smart home. Beyond traditional connected objects such as home automation and surveillance, solutions for improving our home lives are developing exponentially; for cooking better, sleeping better, communicating better, etc. Note, however, the real war declared between those in the businesses, the industry leaders, the connected platform providers and the connected object manufacturers.

Alongside sport tech and smart home, the many innovations in the field of health and well-being mean that more and more precise and personalised solutions are now on offer.

Sopra Steria’s view

CES 2017 was also the chance for us to catch up with some of our clients and to discover some new start-ups and interesting companies. Below is our breakdown of the ones that caught our eye:

La Poste, the French national post office, shone under the spotlight with two large areas at the show. The first for their partners, the second for the start-ups on the French IoT programme. At the end of the aisle was the connected button, Domino (also showcased last year), which allows individuals and now professionals alike to organise a parcel delivery direct from their mailbox at the click of a button. The button interacts with the Digital Hub, the universal platform for connecting any type of service or object with easy access and single-device management using a mobile app.

The French bank Crédit Agricole, with a delegation of 6 start-ups, showcased the “village by CA”, the start-up incubator assisting start-ups in their development and contributing to regional energy in an open innovation approach.

Malakoff Mederic showcased a complete HR digitalisation app, “My HR Assistant”, for managers, HR managers, and staff.

BNP Paribas Real Estate presented its range of connected housing, in partnership with La Poste, with a fantastic VR visit to some of its homes on offer.

Boulanger launched its service for assisting individuals with connected objects to the La Poste Digital Hub (chat, help, videos, etc.).

Legrand unveiled its solution for managing the connected home in partnership with Netatmo, with a new range of plugs and connected switches.

Norauto launched its connected box, offering car breakdown services such as sending texts to the insurer or to family/friends.

Olli the self-driving minibus by WATSON, interacting with users and offering them a complete range of services.

BewellConnect, a French start-up specialised in new generation medical electronics, looking for UI partners or those specialising in user testing to develop innovative products.

Giroptic, the company from Lille which launched iQ, a camera able to film in 4K, at 360°, and which can plug into any smartphone. Really interesting.

Bibelib, connected luggage with integrated tracking system.

Axible, marketing multi-functional connected dice, able to request six different services by tapping on the different sides (customisable stickers made to order).

Yumii, the homecare platform for the elderly, along with a mobile Robot able to hold conversations.

Kino-mo, a truly impressive 3D holographic projector, able to project HD images suspended in mid-air.

Xooloo, a digital coach for developing responsible digital habits.

Sevenhugs, innovation at the cutting edge of technology, offering a remote control which adapts to any connected object.

Hap2u which allows the user to remotely “touch” and feel the texture of a product displayed on a tablet screen

Emotech, with its smart, voice assistant “Olly”, which can detect the user’s mood.

The world’s biggest trade fair dedicated to new technology and innovation is a goldmine for anyone working on digital transformation. In the space of just 4 days, visiting CES allowed us to discover and test a wide range of solutions, some of which will soon be offered to our own clients. We made contacts with many people involved in the professional areas we work in. Lastly, we were able to measure the impact of AI in today’s tech, and see how certain products and sectors are becoming more powerful. It may have been a first for Sopra Steria, but it certainly wasn’t the last.

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Olivier Luczak & Gregory Wintrebert

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