Raising the Voltage
By David Gill
Retailer attendees at each year's International CES actually have two purposes in mind for going to the show.
One goal, of course, is to see all the eye-popping technology that manufacturers believe will be the next things to grab hold of the consumers' imagination. The other purpose is to learn. Toward that end, CES will offer up a panoply of seminars and supersessions on a variety of aspects and issues in consumer electronics.
Among the higher-profile supersessions at this month's show will be "The Human Body: the Next Digital Revolution," which will be moderated by Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of Huffington Post and creator of GPS for the Soul, and which is slated for Jan. 8. Featuring executives from vendors of digital health equipment, the session will explore the latest in digital devices that monitor body functions, ranging from stress levels to human genetic sequences.
Huffington is by no means the only celebrity scheduled to appear at CES. On Jan. 9, Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, which hosts CES, will interview Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, on the FCC's regulatory agenda for 2013.
Public policy will also be the focus of a series of seminars called the Innovation Policy Summit, also on Jan. 9. These will include sessions on policy issues related to immigration, patents, copyrights, the Internet economy, mobile technology, facial recognition technology and voluntary spectrum auctions. Panels of experts will also discuss what Congress needs to do to encourage the creation of high-skill and high-tech jobs, e-waste laws, regulatory efforts on energy efficiency and new approaches to the use of consumer electronics on planes.
Also on Jan. 9, the "new network" will be the focus of a supersession titled "The New Network Effect Changes Everything." Among the participants will be Hans Vestberg, president and CEO of Ericsson and a keynote speaker at last year's CES. Vestberg will be joined by Rodney Brooks of ReThink Robotics; Ford Motor Co.'s chief technical officer, Paul Mascarenas; and David Kirkpatrick of Techonomy. They will discuss the relationship between people, machines and infrastructure in the ever-changing networked world.
Being "connected" is the topic of a supersession sponsored by CNET on Jan. 8. Titled "CNET's Next Big Thing: Always On, the Constantly Connected Consumer Is Here," the seminar will probe how "clouds" and social networks are keeping consumers connected 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and how every device serves as part of this nonstop maze of connectivity.
CES will also offer a series of business insights seminars on Jan. 7, dealing with the changes to retailing being wrought by device integration, online retailers and the ever-growing stream of consumer data. Topics include how to approach meetings with retail buyers, using data from consumer purchases, making sure that such information is secure and the future of brick-and-mortar stores in an online world.
The CEA Research Summit will also take place on Jan. 7. It's designed to provide intelligence to executives from a variety of industries on the important market trends and changes occurring in the consumer electronics industry. Through a mix of quantitative and qualitative data, this one-day event will offer insights on upcoming transformations in the industry and the segments in the technology industry that are growing, along with the impact of these changes on adjacent segments in the industry.
This year's research summit will examine trends in mobility and connectivity, how showrooming (the trend in which consumers shop for products in a brick-and-mortar store, then make a purchase through an online retailer) is affecting the industry, cloud computing and the future of automotive technology.