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15 CES Innovations That Change the Game for Marketers

Consumer tech is weirder than ever. From interactive digital credit cards to "smart" forks, we went inside CES to find the innovations that will have the biggest impact on marketers.

CES innovation No. 1: The next generation of digital credit cards
How smart is your wallet? If you’re looking for a new brand engagement opportunity, get ready for a breakthrough in digital credit cards. With the introduction of the Dynamics "ePlate" device, consumers can push a button on the card itself to choose what reward they want a particular payment to go toward. Users can also choose whether to pay cash or pay with redeemed points through the physical card. And a version of the card also features security-hidden card numbers. Available on any existing VISA or MasterCard account, this innovation puts the control at the fingertips of the user. And it’s free for brands to participate.

CES innovation No. 2: (Much) longer battery life for mobile devices
Everyone seems to love their mobile device, but hate their device's battery life. PowerStick and other short-term battery options have helped users eke out more time, but this year's CES brought us a new option. Nectar Mobile Power introduced a mobile charger that will keep devices powered for up to two weeks. Using a unique new battery technology, this power source keeps users from needing to find power outlets for much longer. The price point is currently a bit steep at $299, but media and techies alike were excited to see this product debut at CES.

CES innovation No. 3: The Hapi Fork and other “smart” everyday items
Don't laugh...introducing the Hapi Fork! Think of this analog-gone-digital item as a cross between an electric toothbrush and a Nike+ chip for your shoe. The fork interacts with a software app to track how often you eat and how quickly you take bites. If, for example, you want to train yourself to take a bite every five seconds instead of every three, the Hapi Fork will vibrate to remind you to slow down. And the fork is dishwasher safe! (If you remove the battery.) Though it earned some laughs from serious technologists, the Hapi Fork represents an important new trend of adding sensors to objects to help them "learn us" and adapt to our behaviors.

CES innovation No. 4: Lightning-fast mobile chips
Mobile devices have surpassed televisions and computers as the primary screen through which brands interact with consumers. But the technology itself isn't always up to user expectations, especially with increasing media consumption habits. Chip maker Qualcomm is taking devices to the next level of speed with its new Snapdragon 600 and 800 processors. Get ready for quicker response without additional drain to the battery power. Insiders say the new chips are 75 percent faster than the prior processor, the S4 Pro. Snapdragon 600 and 800 are expected to appear in consumer devices in mid 2013.

CES innovation No. 5: Augmented reality dressing rooms
Getting your customer to engage with your brand is the ultimate goal for any marketer. But in today's digital environment, physical interaction is not always possible. According to the team at Facecake Marketing Technologies, this isn't a problem. Facecake has introduced a virtual world for brands. Imagine allowing your customers to explore your products in a highly interactive and personal way through an augmented reality interface. Facecake's proprietary visual demonstration system allows customers to manipulate their own image with realistic animation capabilities and try on a variety of designer products with unprecedented levels of personalization. Consumers can adjust their eye shadow to match their complexion, see which handbag looks best with their outfit, or try on brand accessories all in an interactive digital environment. Go from being blond to redhead, visualize yourself losing weight, or try on a variety of outfits in a realistic manner.

CES innovation No. 6: Cars with “BYOD” capability
Until now, cars have typically had a dedicated hardware set for accessing maps and other information. But Ford made a future-thinking decision in creating a "BYOD" (bring your own device) option. The new Ford developer program allows users to connect via Android or any other device, meaning the user isn't married to an old technology years after purchasing the vehicle. Insiders think other carmakers will follow suit, and it further establishes the car as the newest mobile device in the suite of brand marketer tools.

CES innovation No. 7: A smart device that texts you when your plant needs to be watered
As we mentioned before, one of the most important trends coming out of this year's CES was the "sensorization" of non-digital items. And one of the best examples was the Parrot "Flower Power" device. The small pronged object reads plant environment moisture levels, which trigger automated responses. Look for more technologies taking advantage of this trend. And think about ways your brand can innovate in this space.

CES innovation No. 8: TVs that are 110 inches, paper-thin, 4K, 3D, and more
As expected, this year's CES featured a number of television innovations. From 4K (up to 8K!) displays, to new 3D options and screens as large as 110 inches, consumers have never had more choice in the entertainment space. And it seemed like every maker also debuted their version of the new digital television experience. From social data on the screen (what are your peers watching?) to making product information clickable and displaying various data widgets (weather, sports scores, show recommendations), marketers have never had so many in-points for interacting with audiences while they watch TV. Your 2013 campaign plans need to include this "new normal" in the entertainment space. The largest screen in the living room is regaining its importance.

CES innovation No. 9: Video-integrated marketing print pieces
When you think digital, you tend to think of a device-related experience. But one company is bringing digital back into the analog world. Spreengs introduced a line of video cards. They can be used for personal announcements like graduation or the birth of a new baby -- or high-value marketing messaging. Using the latest in "Printings in Motion" technology, Spreengs offers oversize cards with a variety of video screen sizes. Loading a video onto a card is simple, it requires a computer with a USB port. Pricing varies.

CES innovation No. 10: It's easier than ever to skip TV commercials
Dish Networks riled up the marketing world and invited litigation from broadcasters with their new version of "The Hopper with Sling" set top box. The technology allows viewers to skip commercials (hence the court cases), as well as transfer content to tablets for offline viewing. The popular product was originally a finalist for the CNET Best of CES award, until CNET's parent company CBS asked that the Hopper be removed from consideration. Implications for marketers are varied, but obviously the trend toward skipping TV commercials is one that will make brands evaluate their marketing budget priorities.

CES innovation No. 11: The next generation of video producers
As digital video continues to explode, opportunities to enter the space are getting more sophisticated and user-friendly. For example, LiveU has created a full line of high quality production tools to create and publish video from anywhere. They debuted at CES a line of green screen studios with slick animation options that let you quickly produce a high-quality broadcast. The studio shown above comes equipped with studio quality lights and backdrop, and all the hardware and software you need. The studios come in different levels of complexity, with costs ranging from $3,000 to $20,000.

CES innovation No. 12: Smart appliances and interactive home tech
Remember when we started to imagine being able to start a load of laundry, adjust the thermostat, or check if you're out of milk from a smart phone? This once-future concept is finally emerging into the mass market. LG unveiled at CES a full line of appliances and devices that use technologies like NFC to interact with objects and communicate with the user. Soon the smart phone will be the remote control for operating and maintaining interconnected homes. You'll be seeing this trend become more and more the "new normal" in the consumer tech space. Start planning now for ways to tap into this consumer shift, especially if you're a product company.

CES innovation No. 13: Roku partners with Time Warner Cable (and now offers more than 700 channels)
In 2008, the Roku player launched to stream Netflix to the television. Today, Roku has surpassed an unprecedented 700 streaming channels. And with this year's announcement of new partnerships with Time Warner, Fox, Spotify, and iHeartRadio, Roku demonstrates just how far digital entertainment has come in very little time. Roku also announced a new hardware device called the Roku streaming stick which can be plugged directly into the mobile high definition link port already in production by over a dozen consumer electronic makers.

CES innovation No. 14: Advanced headphone technology at consumer-level prices
Forget celebrity endorsements, the real differentiator in the headphone marketplace is digital integration. Parrot's "Zik" headphones come with an app that lets you adjust EQ, concert hall effect, active noise cancellation, and more. Expect consumers to become more savvy in their entertainment hardware choices.

CES innovation No. 15: Healthcare and schools embrace fitness gaming
The Wii and the XBox Kinect changed the game (pun intended) when they allowed users to play video games with interactive motion-based controls. But it took a while for established organizations to adopt the new technologies as possible tool sets. At this year's CES, United Healthcare announced a partnership with Konami to bring game "Dance Dance Revolution" into schools for student fitness. The classroom version of the game provides 48 wireless dance mats, and is connected to a PC rather than a gaming console. Each mat contains a smart card which can hold data for an individual student, allowing the student and the teacher to track BMI and calories burned during the game. Watch for more interactivity like this in schools, and well as more gamification of healthcare. Both important trends.
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