CES 2020 Imagined with Hearts & Science

Another CES is in the books, and the magnitude of this year’s show was bigger than ever before, both in size and innovation. The conference also allowed us valuable time with clients and friends from around the world as everyone converged in Vegas for a few days.

Our clients and Hearts teams in attendance walked the show floor and experienced some amazing technology—from the hyped flying taxis to the ubiquitous 5G in an increasing number of devices, across PCs to cars, to the unique bathroom tech as a category.

Read on for a breakdown of what we saw and learned—and what’s most important for our clients and industry.

1. The wait is over: 5G has arrived

After years of anticipation, 5G is now here. Carriers say at least 15 smartphones will be 5G-compatible this year, and AT&T expects their 5G network to be available nationwide. At Omnicom Media Group’s Morning of Innovation on Wednesday, Chief Investment Officer Catherine Sullivan moderated a panel with actor Jeff Goldblum and Sujit Dey, a UC-San Diego professor and 5G expert.

They talked about the push by programmers to introduce new interactive shows, the rise of AR, VR and 3D holographic immersive content, and how advertisers stand to benefit from 5G capabilities.

The great news for marketers is that video advertising will get a lift from 5G. As loading and buffering times decrease as a result of faster internet speeds, consumers will spend more time on video overall.

It will get easier to reliably deliver high-resolution ads that consumers don’t scroll past as quickly as they can, driving more views, engagement and other KPIs.

2. P&G showcases Opte Precision Skincare

P&G Ventures, the startup studio within Procter & Gamble, returned to CES 2020 to showcase the development of Opte Precision Skincare System, a personalized handheld inkjet printer designed to make the appearance of skin’s hyperpigmentation disappear and fade spots over time. Bringing smart technology to beauty, Opte is set to go to market in Summer 2020.

Opte Precision Skincare System first debuted at CES 2019, where the device received four “Best Of” awards. This year, Opte returned to CES as an Innovation Award Honoree with several new updates; Opte is now 70% less expensive, can process skin images 30% faster, has an improved user interface and upgraded OLED display and is more portable and adds connectivity to assure a better user experience.

Innovative skincare and beauty products like Opte could end up in millions of homes by the end of 2020 or early 2021. They’re a good reminder that innovation isn’t just the purview of Silicon Valley.

Smart brands are making the investment in R&D and technologies like augmented reality and AI to ensure that they stay relevant to Millennial and Gen Z consumers.

3. Privacy was top of mind

Tech behemoths unveiled privacy-related updates at CES, including Google, which announced that its voice assistant will have new privacy features, such as the ability to delete a record of your most recent command by saying, “Hey Google, that wasn’t for you.”

Facebook announced their latest “Privacy Checkup” tool, which walks users through their privacy settings to help them control what they share and how their information is used, while the Amazon-owned home security company Ring announced it will let users opt-out of local police requests for video.

Meanwhile, Apple returned to CES for the first time in 28 years – not to introduce a new product, but to participate in a standing-room-only panel where it positioned itself as a leader in safeguarding privacy and giving consumers control over their data. However, a Washington Post reporter disrupted that narrative during audience questions by citing his investigation into how thousands of third-party app developers were tapping into his iPhone data on a daily basis.

Amid the drumbeat of revelations over the last few years about how consumer data has been misused by tech companies, the public is increasingly concerned about privacy, which is why tech giants are working hard to build the case that they’re on top of it. It’s a reminder that any brand with access to troves of customer data needs to be able to articulate how that information is being used and protected. People are starting to pay attention.

4. Despite privacy concerns, surveillance tech is hot

Paradoxically in light of the emphasis on data privacy, security technology utilizing facial and voice recognition was a booming category at CES this year. Take Amaryllo’s Athena, a security camera that recognizes voices and faces to distinguish friends and family from strangers.

Another company, Sunflower Labs, showed off a camera-equipped drone that deploys when trespassers step onto your property to stream live video of them to your phone. Meanwhile, many CES attendees were checked in with a face scanner.

There are interesting applications of this technology within retail to see how consumers are interacting with your store. The trick, as always, is to define a value proposition to get people to “opt in” so the brand isn’t perceived as creepy or invasive.

5. We’re still talking about flying cars

Flying cars seem to be a staple of every CES, and this year was no exception. Uber and Hyundai revealed a new partnership to build a fleet of “Air Taxis,” which have a planned cruising speed of up to 180 miles per hour at a cruising altitude of 1,000 to 2,000 feet above ground, seating four passengers. The seemingly Star Wars-inspired concept aircraft was designed for Uber’s planned “Elevate” air travel service.

Hyundai’s concept was the most dazzling, but they weren’t the only automaker to aim high. Mercedes-Benz introduced an all-electric concept car, inspired by the movie “Avatar,” that can respond to hand gestures and recognize the driver through their heartbeat or breathing.

The future of mobility is impossible to predict, and automakers are trying to proactively reinvent themselves to ensure they don’t become obsolete. For that reason, you can expect flying cars to continue being a centerpiece at CES. Maybe someday they’ll be in the air too.

Looking for more?

Technology plays a critical role with how we interact with the world around us and the brands we love (or don’t). Discover how consumers are taking control of their own data destiny and what key takeaways you might have missed from Cannes 2019 about respectfully reaching consumers.