OPINION: Looking beyond the tech

David Holmes
By David Holmes | 9 January 2014
AIMIA chief executive David Holmes.

CES 2014 – the largest Consumer Electronics Show ever seen, bigger than last year, bigger than the year before. The advance of technology rolls on relentlessly at an exponentially increasing pace. So what's hot at CES 2014, and more importantly, why should you care?

Bigger is better – particularly if we're talking screens. UHDTV or ultra high-definition TV, which includes 4K TVs, are all the television manufacturers are talking about. Over 100 inches (>250cm in the civilised world). But why do you need a screen that big? For now there's not much content being shot in UHD but that will change because of the avenues it provides the media industry.

You could zoom in, pan, add multi-tasking widgets just for starters. You can email, text, research the web while watching TV or playing the latest full-HD shooter without much hassle or interruption to your main program (oh, and movies look AMAZING). Like the plasma and LED screens of the past, the early adopters will put the screen in their beach-side mansions as a status symbol and not really know what to use it for.

However, the price will come down rapidly and we will all have these screens in the not-too-distant future. For advertisers, this will totally change the way TVCs and digital marketing collide. The palette for creativity is ex-spiring (exciting and inspiring). A connected device, the size of a wall that can deliver an immersive ad experience, in-program and with full interactivity, should be a creative director's wet dream. Think of the experience you could deliver for BMW to explore their next vehicle or how realistic the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul will look on a Tourism Turkey commercial.

Smaller is better, too – wearable tech has been around for a while and has shaken off most of the bugs. Now the technical issues have been ironed out we are seeing innovation and creativity directed toward the applications on the devices and this will see it penetrate the mass psyche. The humble watch will make a triumphant return through the combination of elegant design and more useful functions. Who wants a bracelet that simply tells the time? I have a mobile phone to do that. But these new devices are more akin to a personal assistant and will allow you to carry on human interaction rather than be glued to a screen while ignoring the person right in front of you.

So what? Not life-changing, I hear you scoff. Well actually this technology will also probably save your life during your 80-plus years on this planet. E-health is one practical application of wearable technology. Heart rate, blood pressure, sleep apnoea, exercise, sun exposure are all apps that are on display and available to buy in 2014 as part of wearable technology. These devices are more than capable of detecting a heart attack or stroke and immediately calling an ambulance and telling the driver your exact location as just one useful application.

It was also announced at CES that Android, Google's open-source operating system, is now powering the new in-car systems of a number of manufacturers including Audi, General Motors and Honda. Cars have been the last bastion of closed technology. If an open-source OS like Android is within a car, app development just got even more serious.

One-example: Pandora, Spotify or other internet radio/music providers will challenge the traditional radio broadcasters for share of in-car audience. One-prediction: mapping technology companies like Navman or TomTom will finally be eliminated by Google Maps, or Google Earth... for free. Electronic billboards will be able to sense your car is coming and interact with it, definitely possible but improbable as people will hate it. (We'll leave the inadequacies of big data for a another discussion.) Your car and calendar will link seamlessly to ensure you get to that meeting on time or remember it's your turn to pick up the kids.

So this is the point – don't look too closely at the devices or the technology that powers them. A bigger TV or a watch connected to the internet or a car that uses the Android operating system is just the technical specification. Let your creative mind wander and dream of what possibilities these breakthroughs unlock.

For the creative industries these new consumer devices offer an insight to the changing tool palette we have at our disposal. Anything is possible and consumer experiences never imagined are now possible for the smart brands wanting greater share of hearts and wallets.

David Holmes
Chief Executive

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