Ad Age staffers went on tours of the show floor, complements of Group M, McCann Worldgroup, Shopper Sciences, Starcom MediaVest and AT&T. Here are the products, trends and technologies worth noting.
Big trend: Front-facing cameras on TVs
Why: High-end TVs are shipping with front-facing cameras to enable things like facial recognition and gesture control. It brings some big opportunities for measurement, but cue the privacy concerns in four, three, two ...
Biggest takeaway: Genevieve Bell's tech 'myth buster'
Why: Talk of a Siri-powered Apple TV and Microsoft Xbox's gesture- and voice-control capabilities have many pundits calling for the end of the remote control, but Intel's resident anthropologist reminds us that watching TV tends to be a social experience, and even the smartest tech companies can't teach a TV to tell who's in charge if there's more than one person in the room. The remote, however? It knows -- whoever's holding it.
Favorite device: Bodymetrics from PrimeSense
Why: After scanning your body and taking measurements, it uses the data to see how various pieces of clothing will fit. Selfridges has used it to help shoppers find the best-fitting jeans, and Bodymetrics CEO Suran Goonatilake said the technology will be in a major department store in the U.S. this year. Microsoft debuted similar tech with Swivel, a Kinect-based virtual dressing room from FaceCake Marketing Technologies.
Best surprise: Nokia's Windows Phone-powered Lumia
Why: The hottest phone was from Microsoft, the perennial mobile also-ran. The Lumia, along with the well-received Windows 8 and Xbox, means no one is counting Redmond out. Xbox, in particular, with its Kinect voice control, TV content, email access and millions of signups for its Live service, is looking less like a gaming console and more like the living room's internet-connected media hub. "Microsoft already has what all the TV guys are trying to make," said Greg Armshaw, chief tech catalyst for Asia Pacific at McCann Worldgroup.
Important trend: Sensors and data collection
Why: More devices are collecting more data on everything we do -- whether it's a camera, as demonstrated by Kia, embedded in a dashboard to monitor driver alertness; a pedometer-based virtual game to encourage kids to be physically active; or Motorola's MotoActv body-monitoring service. Though the phenomenon has a lot of upside, such as the potential to lower insurance premiums or alert an ambulance in case of a major injury, it also has serious privacy implications. As GE CMO Beth Comstock acknowledged during the CMO keynote panel, technologists alone won't be the ones to solve them. "Who owns the data, and what's the value of the data?" she asked. "Who is going to make sense of this if not us?"