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Espresso of Innovation: Spotlight on CES 2014

By Thorsten Linz, chief digital officer, Draftfcb Munich

Hello and welcome to this week's Espresso of Innovation; the hottest news and strongest stories from the world of creativity and technology filtered into a quick shot of inspiration. This week we talk service, sensors and screens at CES.
I was especially looking forward to CES 2014 since lots of the technologies introduced over the last few years are moving into their second or third cycle. According to the Consumer Electronic Association we are in the midst of the 3rd industrial revolution and there seem to be three “sweet spots” for successful new ideas:
The first trend is “Mass Customisation” which has been around for quite some time but until now because of cost and logistics it never turned out to be a viable business model.  Thanks to affordable 3D printing technology we are finally able to move this trend towards the centre of businesses rather than a quirky side-line. 
Makerbot is lowering barriers to mass 3D printing technology, having just unveiled a 3D printer for the iPad (only $500) alongside an iTunes style library of models which considerably boosts the ecosystem. This could have a huge impact on how we will source products and broken part replacements in the future.
Brands and companies that want to compete in this space in the future need to make sure their customers get easy access to 3D printing specs. But it also provides an opportunity to customize a brand experience never seen before and to turn customers into brand ambassadors.
The second trend – which is being referred to as the “Age of Autonomy” - starts with the improvement in technology and increase in cost efficiency of sensors that can make any object part of the “Internet of Things.”
Unfortunately many of these smart technologies will not take off because they have been developed from a technological point of view – and not with the consumer in mind. The technology is great but will only end in a must-have gadget if we can offer a clear consumer benefit, which is why wearable tech and smart homes were such a hit in 2013.
In-car technology seems to be at the forefront of the 2014 developments, linking the plugged-in person and their destination.Mercedes-Benz just launched a series of connected initiatives. One of them – Digital DriveStyle – connects to your GPS in your car with your Nest device at home so based on your ETA Nest starts heating or cooling your home. It does not stop there. Similar to Waze the system shows your friends on route, offers a shopping and to-do list integration as well as a link into social media platforms.
In addition, Audi is working on a flat, high-res andfully customizable dashboard; Ford is working on a deeper integration of itsSync AppLink system; and smaller companies such asMojio are developing an independent connected car solutions that cost less than $10 a month and only requires a SIM card to work.
With sensors on everything, we can expect a lot more data to process. And with that comes new challenges – these tons of data will have to be curated to be provided in the right, easily absorbable context. Be it entertainment, information or advertising, to reach consumers we must follow the formula of: content x timing x device = success.
The third development is referred to as “Multidimensional Screen Expansion.” We now have devices with screen sizes and surfaces for which we may not have imagined a use as recently as a few years ago. These screens will continue to expand and enhance our experience. But how will our smart- phones/watches/glasses and tablets physically adapt in 2014?
Several companies presented4K screens, including bothSamsung and LG who also presented flexible and curved television concepts. Content consumption game-changers, Netflix, added support with plans to allow 3D title contracts lapse in favour of4K adoption. The curve element comes hot on the heels of theGalaxy Round (Samsung) andG Flex (LG) smartphones arriving to market. While we still have to see how these innovations appeal to the broader market it is clear that brands have to adapt their content accordingly to a multidimensional screen reality.
Mark Weiser once said, "the most profound technologies are those that disappear and weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.” These three trends can combine to do just that. With technology becoming increasingly capable of serving our basic (and not so basic) everyday needs, brands now have the opportunity to be part of this unobtrusive fabric and subsequently create experiences, emotions and engagement to earn brand loyalty.