4 technological leaps brands could actually use from CES
In the future, everyone could have their own shade of lipstick or fragrance. Robot sommeliers from Samsung could fetch their wine and load the dishwasher. And brands will need a plan to fit into the technology-pampered masses.
One of the lessons of this year’s CES, which was moved to a virtual setting because of the pandemic, is that brands need to adapt to moment. Adapting means flexibility, says Elav Horwitz, senior VP and global innovation director at McCann Worldgroup.
“What we used to think is gimmicky, suddenly becomes a necessity,” Horwitz said in a video interview recapping CES, which closes out today.
The Consumer Technology Association moved CES to a digital venue in light of the restrictions imposed by COVID-19. There were still close to 2,000 exhibitors online showing off innovations, including Sony, Samsung, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble and GM. Every year, the technophiles in the ad world explore the product announcements for new ways to shape the future of branding and marketing. Here are the most important trends for marketers to know.
Of course, one of the themes at CES was a healthier future, one in which people are more concerned about their environment. That means that brands, retailers and consumer products makers, are thinking about contactless shopping. “We all want sanitized spaces,” Horwitz says. “So we don’t want to touch things.”
Startups like Ultraleap showed how brands can support the latest technology that enables touch-free interactivity. The company builds virtual displays that sit atop ATMs and checkout machines. Ultraleap uses the latest in hand-tracking technology and what are known as haptics, which provides real sensations to people in virtual spaces.
Lego partnered with Ultraleap last year to create an interactive display for shoppers to build digitally without ever touching a sticky Lego brick (or stepping on one).
bHaptics, another startup at CES, showed off a full-body suit for gamers that mimics sensations for the wearer. The suit is like the first-generation of what could become an even more immersive virtual bodysuit, reminiscent of the movie “Ready Player One.”
In recent years, brands have taken to innovations like “sonic” logos, so they are identifiable in audio settings with the rise of podcasts, music apps and voice-activated speakers.
The opportunity for advanced haptics will open the sense of touch to brands, and they could build identifiable feelings in haptic interfaces.
It wouldn’t be CES without a few robots. And Samsung made perhaps the biggest splash with BotHandy, a home assistant that looks ready for Pixar. Brands will need to prepare for the robots like they have for the voice-activated assistant speakers of this decade, like Alexa and Siri.
Brands want to be recognizable to the machines when they eventually take over consumer decisions. The advanced appliances are built with flexibility in mind, Horwitz says.
Spirit makers will want to get to know machines like Robotendy, which makes cocktails, since these will be the bartenders reaching for the top shelf in the future.
Own the shade
Augmented reality is infiltrating all corners of online activity, real-world displays and commerce. The technology grew up as a fun accessory to social media apps like Snapchat. Now AR enables people to try on virtual clothes or view a sofa in their living room before buying.
At CES, the startup Perfect Corp. exhibited its YouCam beauty try-on technology enabled by AR. L’Oréal has been an early adopter of AR, too. The brand also has the $299 Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Sur Mesure Powered by Perso, which lets consumer create their own shades of lipstick at home.
Such personalization is the type of flexibility that marketers have been talking about all year. It’s also an opportunity for brands to think about their own color palettes, and how they can serve them to the masses. The same technology will give brands the ability to think about the sense of smell, too.
There were gadgets at CES, like Miscato's Aromeo that creates ambient smells for the home. And Horwitz said perfume-makers are creating customized fragrances. Those are all new frontiers for brands to explore.
“There will be partnerships between brands,” Horwitz says. “ Brands need to re-imagine innovation and create personalized options.”