Last time it was all about the connected car, this year it's all about Artifical Intelligence. And that's only the tip of the iceberg. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) produced by the Consumer Technology Association(CTA) is still a must-attend for everyone and anyone involved in technology. Attracting nearly 80,000 people from all over the world last year, CES takes over Las Vegas like a high-roller who is on a huge winning streak. While most will have to wait for the snapshot of the what's to come January 9-12, 2018 at the Metropolitan Pavillion in New York City on November 9, here is an insider's view before even that event opens its doors.
Jeff Joseph, who helms CTA, is busy working with his team of 160 to create this event. It should be quite a special one as it is his last after several years in this position as he moves on to pursue other opportunities. Here is his view from the top:
Lauren deLisa Coleman: So what can we expect this year? What are the stand-out sections?
Jeff Joseph: There are going to be so many, it's hard to even name them all. The exhibit area will include sections focused on Connected Cars, of course. But this year for the first time, CES will include an AI Marketplace. This is brand new for us and will focus on various aspects of machine learning, voice activation, AI applications to business decisions, health & medical, and more. We're very excited about this new section because it's one of the hottest areas right now in tech.
Next up, the Smart City Zone which will focus on tech's intersection with the impact of community and urban planning and public service.
There will be a Sports Zone which is all about tech for the athlete, from enhancing performance to promoting better health. Well, have our New Designing & Service Showcase which has been very popular with start-ups who are looking for these kinds of services.
We'll also feature a High Tech & Retail area that is all about AI, VR, Beacons, and cutting-edge tech that will drive brick-and-mortar.
Finally, we have Eureka Park which is where the start-ups will be showcased. We had 600 companies last year. This year we already have 800 registered. Our data shows that based on participation in Eureka Park, CES has been responsible for creating an environment that has raised approximately $1B dollars for start-ups. We're really proud of that.
In addition, we'll have C-Space again at the Aria Hotel which is all about the intersection of marketing and communications, content, and creative.
LdC: How does the organization decide what the areas of focus should be at the Show each year?
JJ: Our staff members and analysts work hard to decide what should be included and what will not. We look at where consumers and technology intersect, and ask ourselves, "Where are the areas that are the freshest and exciting." Then we develop how to best mirror those areas.
LdC: Speakers and major CEO are traditionally a big draw. Can you speak yet about who has committed?
JJ: We've announced a few on the site, but there are certainly more to come. I can't mention names right now but they will come from the areas of C Augmented Reality, Digital Health. Oh, and Bryan (Krzanich) from Intel will return. We also have Richard Yu from Huawei.
But there is an invitation-only Leaders in Tech dinner that is going to be pretty special. John Zimmer, CEO of Lyft will speak and the event will bring together key figures in government and business to a variety of elements.
Public panels will naturally be held throughout the show where key trend in tech will be discussed such as AI future impact on jobs and infrastructure. Another hot topic will be policy issues as they pertain to immigration and patent litigation reform.
LdC: Let's talk about space because CES really takes over Vegas once the show starts.
JJ: That's right! Of course, the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands Expo are still anchors. As I already mentioned, C-Space is at the Aria. And then a ton of people are holding various events and showcases at the hotels and casinos all along the strip.
LdC: But the main draw is the Convention Center, and that exhibit space is very, very coveted, no?
JJ: Absolutely. Each year demand exceeds capacity. Although we start planning right after show and then really ramp up in August and September, the floor plan done is always done last.
LdC: And how do you decide which company goes where?
JJ: There are “priority points” if a company has exhibited before, but essentially it's a lottery. Space can become very expensive so a company has to plan well. (Exhibit space is $5 per square foot) This year we have 620 first time exhibitors, and we always have a huge percentage of legacy exhibitors.
LdC: While many conferences have dwindled in attendance, CES seems to keep building. Why is that?
JJ: Well, nothing replaces one-on-one. We give professionals a chance to actually meet in person. Also, we're the only conference of this type of this size. An attendee can see nearly everything there is in tech in just one place. It's just huge so all I can say is, when you come, where comfortable shoes, drink water and plan out what you want to see by using our app. But also, be open to serendipity. You never know what you will see or who you will meet that can change the direction of your entire game for the better.