Written by Clemi Hardie, Founder of Noodle live

Never heard of CES? The world’s largest tech showcase lands in Las Vegas every January and is the place to be if you want to stay up to date with what the tech world has to offer over the next 12 months. Global tech brands compete to grab the attention of tech journalists with crazy, cutting edge products and industry-leading advancements in software and hardware. Several brand new products see the light of day for the first time at CES, and 2019 saw its fair share of jaw-droppers.

This year, CES took place 8-11 January, and true to form it was a plethora of robots, virtual assistants and artificial intelligence. Brands went big. So big in fact that Google even included a rollercoaster on their showcase stand.

So what do #EventProfs need to know about the show that attracts business and thought leaders from around the world, and what tech should you be watching in 2019? Never fear, Noodle’s geek-force are here. We’ve picked out some of the most interesting innovations and the focused on the tech that we think could start to change the game for #EventProfs.

Here’s what you missed:

Apple’s Shock Appearance

Apple made a surprise appearance at CES. The California-based company usually shirk the commercial event in favour of hosting their own show business launch parties, but this year, they broke with tradition and mingled with the crowd. Not only did they erect a large billboard ad near the convention centre to take a cheeky swipe at the security issues faced by Google, Amazon and Facebook, but they also partnered up with Samsung in a shock move to bring iTunes movies and TV shows to Samsung TVs. A new iTunes Movies and TV shows app will debut on the Samsung Smart TV later this year. AirPlay 2 support will also become available.

But there was also room for concern for Apple as their competitor Huawei continued to chase them for a share in the laptop market with the release of a super slimline laptop to rival the MacBook Air. The 13-inch MateBook is actually thinner than Apple’s current Air and also offers touchscreen technology. They have priced it a similar price point to Apple’s hardware.

What does it mean for #EventProfs?

Using an event app? It’s highly likely that the majority of your guests will be accessing your app via an Apple device (iPhone or iPad), so it’s worth keeping up to date with the latest developments at the tech giant. Their appearance at CES implies that they’ve got their eyes on a more mainstream offering and they may be attempting to shift away from their elitists positioning.

Assistant Robots

We’re living in the age of the robot. Robot tech has been making leaps and bounds over the last few years and we’re now starting to see the rewards. Consumer-facing assistant robots are becoming an increasing reality and at CES 2019 we saw several promising offerings. Samsung introduced a range of bots including a health care robot that can help track sleep and read vital statistics from your fingerprint. They also debuted a robot that can assess air quality in your home amongst other devices for day-to-day use.

ForwardX Robotics also showcased their Ovis suitcase. The smart case is able to move on its own and follow you as you walk for totally hands-free travel. It moves at around 6mph and is equipped to tackle a variety of different surfaces.

What does it mean for #EventProfs?

Robots have been making appearances at live events for several years now, but usually as entertainment rather than practical helpers. As the tech continues to develop, we’re expecting more and more assistant robots to take some of the load and start offering a helping hand. From chatbot help desks to drinks carrying robots, keep an open mind when it comes to computer-based staff on your payroll.

Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Headphones Were Big News

Now that Apple’s iPhones don’t include a headphone port, Bluetooth headphones continue to be big news, and several companies wanted to show off their high-tech headsets.

Audio Technica unveiled the premium ATH-ANC900BT headphones, which will retail at a serious £269. They offer the highest resolution of audio delivery on the market with a whole host of noise cancellation features included. Jabra also showcased their own noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones at £279, with an emphasis on the quality of incoming voice calls.

Meanwhile, Sony announced the addition of Alexa to their WH-1000XM3 headphones. The new addition will allow you to ask for updates on the weather, request your next song via voice command or instantly check your incoming messages. Irritatingly, you do need to press a button to activate Alexa on Sony’s headphones, so it’s not totally hands-free.

What does it mean for #EventProfs?

Running an immersive event? Noise cancelling headphones are fantastic for setting a specific atmosphere or offering individual experiences to different guests. They are also fantastic for live event stages in busy areas or conferences.

Get Ready for 5G

Samsung made the announcement that phone buffs have been waiting for – the tantalising promise of a 5G smartphone. Many insiders are tipping the Galaxy S10 to be the first 5G smartphone, but there was no official confirmation at CES. Tech insiders are also hoping that Samsung will release the first folding smartphone in the near future.

What does it mean for #EventProfs?

Faster mobile internet and better performance for event apps and event websites.

Personal Assistants

Artificial intelligence was a huge buzz term in 2018, and it’ doesn’t seem to have had its day yet.

Samsung’s personal assistant, Bixby is getting ready to leave the smartphone and appear in a range of Samsung products, including fridges, TVs and speakers. LG led their keynote speech with a promise to make their products so intelligent that they will take a lot of the ‘cognitive load’ of day to day life off your hands. “Our ambition is to go way beyond LG’s current role as a leading manufacturer of consumer electronics and to become a lifestyle innovator that serves a truly intelligent way of living.”

Smart home security was popular this year with smart doorbells and cameras on display at several stands.

Once again, it was Alexa (Amazon’s personal assistant) who ruled the show. This year, Alexa’s AI could be found embedded in everything from Instant Pot smart pressure cookers to Dux’s luxury beds and even a smart loo from Kohler that will flush by voice command and even play relaxing music as you do your business. The loo is aptly called smart toilet number 2.

But Google, Alexa’s main competitor, struck a considerable blow at this year’s CES when they announced that their virtual assistant could soon be checking you in for flights on United Airlines, with other airlines expected to follow suit in the near future. Google also announced that their Google Home device will soon include a live translation tool with access to hundreds of languages and accessible via the command, “Hey Google, be my interpreter”. Google also announced that they expect their digital helper to be available on one billion devices by the end of 2019.

What does it mean for #EventProfs?

Forget IRL assistants, consumers and delegates now expect instant answers to their questions from polite virtual assistants. Look out for ways to welcome Alexa, Bixby and Google Assistant into your event environment to keep up with the increasingly virtual world.

Rollable TV Screens

LG caused huge headlines with their rollable television at last years show. This year it was back and more impressive than ever. Not only can it now roll up into a 100W Dolby Atmos soundbar, but it also no longer needs to be placed against a wall, as it can simply roll itself upon demand. The television can also partially roll out so you can use the screen for alternative uses, such as a digital clock or digital photo display. It can also be used to play music. When fully rolled out, the screen is 65 inches. The 100W Dolby Atmos audio system can still be used when the screen is tucked into the base.

Televisions are always popular at CES. This year Samsung also showcased several 8K television sets including a 98-inch screen.

What does it mean for #EventProfs?

If rollable screens become more accessible and hit a lower price point, they could totally transform display spaces and talks at live events. Let’s hope that LG continues to work on the tech so that we can maximise display space at exhibition stands and conferences.

Wearables

Another growing trend over the last few years, wearable tech continues to turn up some interesting and unexpected items. Welt showcased a wearable smart-belt that monitors waist-size, overeating and physical activity. It also notifies you if you’ve been sitting down for too long. Garmin, who make sports watches, also announced that they would be adding a 4G connection to their watches so that runners can share locations with their friends and download music. Philips also released a SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band which helps you find a position that reduces snoring. Meanwhile, DFree showcased a new wearable bladder ultrasound sensor to tell you when its time to pee and avoid any embarrassing accidents.

What does it mean for #EventProfs?

At Noodle Live, we believe in the power of wearable devices to enhance the delegate experience at live events. Our wearable name badges allow delegates to simply tap their name badge to collect content from individual exhibitors, swap contact details, download session notes, check their coat in and even access personalised information stands. As wearable devices continue to grow in popularity we’re likely to see new features and possibilities for the live event industry too.


Written by Clemi Hardie, Founder of Noodle live

Clemi is the founder of Noodle Live, creating bespoke event apps and technology packages for #EventProfs. Clemi’s background is in digital marketing and she has a passion for ‘hack’ thinking.

She founded Noodle Live in 2013 after noticing a space for more efficient and intelligent tech to help events run smoothly. She has worked with brands including Fujitsu, Deloitte, Google and Jaguar Land Rover. 

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Adam is the co-founder and editor of www.eventindustrynews.com Adam, a technology evangelist also organises Event Tech Live, Europe’s only show dedicated to event technology and the Event Technology Awards. Both events take place in November, London.