As we’ve mentioned on Facebook and Twitter, we’re slumming it out in Vegas this week, checking out consumer tech, chatting with industry movers and shakers and – let’s be honest – drinking a lot.  While we’re sober enough to remember, here are a few insights gleaned from the S&G team about the conference, the industry and its direction, and this lovely little town that was so eloquently stated as “having all the amenities of modern society in a habitat unfit to grow a tomato”.

No big new innovations

Save for a skinny little robot that assists caregivers in keeping watch over their parents, the team at S&G has been a little underwhelmed with the garden variety technology being debuted this year.
One of our favorite little gadgets that made a repeat visit to the showroom floor this year is a little device called the Karotz – a small robot companion that offers a host of cool features like monitoring a room with its built-in webcam, syncing to your email and alerting your verbally of new messages, and reading off social media wall updates from your profiles. Not groundbreaking, but adorable and fun.

Interesting companies to take note of…

However, with that said, there are a few companies doing interesting things. Take the Home Shopping Network who has stealthily been transitioning to the online space: successfully moving their army of Boomer women to online buying, all the while reaching out to a new demographic of Gen X and Gen Y’ers – a group that’s no stranger to the online shopping experience – and enticing them in with online gaming. A smart move that’s bolstered their online spending to 35% of their total revenue.
Ford’s also got some cool things in the mix with their new concept car, Evos. They also throw a mean party. I don’t think we’ve ever danced so much (or seen our co-founder Alex so impressively dominate the dance floor with The Robot).

Is CES starting the slow descent into obscurity?

It’s possible. Each year, the number of attendees keeps growing and buyers from all of those flyover states flood the showroom floor to buy cheap Chinese made accessories (don’t get us wrong, though. China is starting to really bust out some new homegrown technology instead of just manufacturing it).  Apple and Google have already pulled out of the show as exhibitors and Microsoft has stated that this year was its last, so it’s quite possible that other major brand names could take a page out of their book and do the same.

Viva Las Vegas!

Vegas, for the uninitiated, is a barren cesspool surrounded by shiny, blinking lights. For the first day or two, it is magnificent. But by day three, the polish starts to wear off and you find yourself drinking heavily at the penny slot machines cursing the $5 ATM fees.
All that aside, I’m sure I’ll be back again next year, because who can resist possibly seeing firsthand the next big thing? But I’ll surely take that 12 months of downtime in stride and start preparing myself now for next year.

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