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CES 2016

A Day Amongst The Madness: CES 2016

8 hours walking through 3 convention halls
25,639 steps taken (and 739 calories burned!)
117 booths visited
56 photos taken
2 International O&M employees met along the way
20 seconds taken for lunch

It’s no secret that CES is the largest conference of its kind, bringing over 170,000 attendees to Las Vegas this year alone. But that’s a very hard number to quantify, especially for a first-timer like myself. As I planned for the week, I speculated that to live the full “CES experience,” I must attend as many conference sessions, keynotes and exhibitor booths as possible. I knew I’d be exhausted, but was determined to stick to my goal upon arriving.

After stepping foot into the Las Vegas Convention Center for the first time, I quickly realized that my aspirations were nothing short of impossible. Booths stretched back as far as my eyes could see in every direction. Most were adorned with lights, video screens and crowds, eager to learn more about the cutting-edge products on display. And this was merely one of several facilities that CES had overtaken throughout the city.

I strolled around a bit aimlessly at first, unsure where to begin or how to make sense of it all. Perhaps observing my disorientation, an exhibitor from Netamo approached me and explained how his company had invented a new outdoor camera that can distinguish between cars, people, and animals using a deep learning algorithm. At that moment, it suddenly clicked. Everyone at CES was there for more or less the same reason: to learn and share knowledge in an open-forum centered around innovation.

For the rest of the day, I traversed multiple show floors, often waiting in excess of 30 minutes to experience some of the demonstrations first-hand. I quickly learned that these waits were a perfect opportunity to chat up exhibitors, journalists and other attendees about their favorite CES experiences and things to see.

Out of the hundreds of exhibitions I saw, there were a few in particular that stood out due to their potential to disrupt industries, and of course, their general awesomeness.

Volkswagen BUDD-e

In addition to apologizing– yet again–for its recent diesel blunder, VW used CES to unveil its latest concept vehicle. Called the “BUDD-e,” it’s a zero-emissions, all-electric car that is optimized for groups of friends traveling together. Its futuristic technology allows passengers to merge content from all of their smartphones onto the car’s entertainment system, allowing them to participate in a “joint mobility experience.” It also connects to users’ smart homes, bridging the current gap between the two platforms. It will be interesting to see whether driving becomes a more social experience with time, especially once cars can drive themselves.


While VR dominated the conversation at this year’s conference, one of its hindrances is consumers’ inability to produce their own content. Vuze hopes to change that by introducing the world’s first high-resolution 3D 360-degree virtual reality camera. Like GoPro, it ships with software that allows consumers to combine the clips and make movies. However, it has yet to be seen whether consumers care enough to produce these immersive experiences themselves.


It may seem superfluous, but this fully-automatic brewing appliance can brew five-litre mini kegs of craft beer in about two hours. It also features an online BrewMarketplace that allows craft breweries and homebrewers to upload their recipes and sell them to users around the world. The implications of connecting small producers with large markets could radically change the way food and beverages are sold in the future.

Whirlpool Connected Kitchen

Whirlpool had a large presence at this year’s CES, and demonstrated a number of ways that technology can help guide and personalize the cooking experience. For example, the company uses image and speech recognition to catalogue each family member’s favorite foods and nutritional goals to create personalized recipe suggestions. It can also detect a change in plans if a cook decides to improvise. Even more impressively, it can display cooking alerts and reminders to “flip” or “stir” displayed on the Smart Backsplash.

Qualcomm Connected Cities

While a bit more theoretical than the rest of the booths, Qualcomm impressed by sharing the possibilities enabled by its connectivity technologies: how devices, vehicles, and infrastructure can intelligently communicate with one another to create a more engaging and useful user experience. For example, they partnered with IPS Group to create a smart parking meter that can be retrofitted atop older meters, enabling new features like credit card payments and expiration alerts on mobile.

It was certainly an exhausting day on the floor, but I learned a lot more than I thought possible in 8 hours. And even though I couldn’t stop at every booth, I think I achieved my goal: I did as much as I possibly could have. And I came away excited about the trends and startups that are changing our industry as we know it.

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