Big Things Come in Small Packages

Another year of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has come and gone. One-hundred-sixty-thousand attendees and 160,000 HOT takes on what will matter to you in the future – TVs are getting better, watches and washing machines are getting smarter, while cars are ready to think for themselves. There is truly no shortage of topics to discuss, and yet two companies stood out to me as important, not for the size of their products, but for the size of their long-term impact.

Energous, one of the many companies pushing hard into the wireless power space, was a CES darling. Winner of two Best of Show awards, and three other CES awards, it represents a new category that is literally going to change how we operate. As consumers have become more mobile, the one greatest limiter has been battery life of devices. Each iteration of a device delivers longer-lasting usage functionality, but with consumption patterns outpacing power supplies, it continues to be a problem. With WattUp, it becomes possible to imagine a world where Wi-Fi-esque power via radio frequency becomes the new commodity that public spaces and business can offer to entice engagement and further push branded content.

What does this mean for marketers? Today, for example, a visit to Macy’s comes with the ability to get free Wi-Fi access. Imagine a future where that visit comes with free Wi-Fi and free wireless power, allowing consumers a deeper, more interactive experience where you can browse, solicit social feedback on what you are wearing, and perhaps even interact with a brand style consultant via mobile, without worrying about the drain on your mobile minutes or power. There are infinite examples of how removal of battery life concerns can change the way we interact with and consume media, and Energous shows that the future is not as far away as we might think.

Nvidia is a mainstay of CES, and yet continues to lead while sitting outside the main hall. This year, Nvidia cleaned up on awards with its new Tegra X1 chip. Dubbed the world’s first “super chip,” it’s the size of a thumbnail, is twice as powerful as last year’s Nvidia Tegra K1 chip, and represents more computer power than the fastest super computer from 15 years ago. And, frankly, it’s more powerful than virtually all current mobile hardware can handle.

The long-term benefits for marketers are hard to deny. The improvements in processing translate to better experiences for consumers, allowing for advertisers to develop deeper and more immersive interactions. But the end goal for Nvidia is more significant than just mobile handheld devices.

The company unveiled the impact the chip will have in the future of how we drive, or rather, how our cars drive us with Nvidia Drive CX and PX. Drive CX uses one Tegra X1 chip to “[light] up rich, distraction-free digital dashboards filled with high-resolution, 3-D images and silky smooth animation.” The Drive PX goes to another level entirely. With two Tegra X1 processors, the company says it will “use deep learning and neural networks to give automobiles an uncanny level of self-awareness.” What that means for consumers is technology that “can help cars park themselves — and come back to the driver. It can even recognize cars, trucks, pedestrians, and road signs in the environment around the vehicle.”

This is where the potential explodes. A decade ago a GPS was the requisite accessory for automobile travel. Now, it’s a smartphone, with Waze and others providing intelligent machine learning to save you time and identify destinations. In the car of the future, especially one without your attention needed at the wheel, the ability to inform and entertain will open another screen of opportunities to marketers. A screen with not only all of the immersive properties of home or phone, but also with real-time, geo-location capabilities that will shape consumer destinations while en route, creating a new form of customer conquesting never before considered.

A world of limitless possibilities must shed the burdens of its past. Part of that is moving from virtually cord-cutting, a hot trend in the TV space for some time, to real cord-cutting in the powering of mobile devices. Now we see the realization of that coming to bear at a time when the market is becoming more comfortable with the power of the machine and its ability to improve our life, specifically in the area of autonomous cars.

Image via Shutterstock.

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