For those who have been following consumer tech long enough, this development might trigger flashback to the Kinect camera system that Microsoft added to Xbox consoles back in the early 2010s. Kinect never truly took off and was phased out in 2016, partly due to its limited use cases in gaming and partly due to the privacy concerns it raised. But in 2022, Zoom has become a household name and video calls have become a necessity for remote workers and a common way to access virtual services. Naturally, TV makers realized that smart TVs should get a camera, too. LG, for example, is leveraging the added cameras to enable telehealth services on its latest TVs.
If this trend catches on and results in more connected TVs gaining camera add-ons, our living room screens might soon become more contextually aware and capable of more interactive functions. In response, advertisers should explore dynamic creatives and interactive content that will make connected TV ads as responsive as their digital counterparts.
“Peace of mind” is top of mind
While pandemic tech still had a strong showing at this CES, a common thread that emerged across product categories was a prioritization of safety and security over novel functionalities. After two years of living in uncertainty, it makes sense that consumers would crave a greater peace of mind enabled by connected devices that “just work.”
This was especially evident in smart home and smart city domains as we continue to digitalize our living infrastructure, both in and out of the home. Whether it’s 5G-ready outdoor sensors for monitoring air quality and noise levels or connected home security systems with NFC built-in so authorized users can simply tap their phone to disarm the system, device makers are making a concerted effort to make peace of mind a key selling point.
Interestingly, this newfound emphasis on peace-of-mind design could also unlock new media opportunities. One such example at CES was Dutch startup VideowindoW, whose technology can convert entire glass façades into huge transparent video screens, thus cleverly combining glare and climate control in public venues with immersive entertainment. Many auto brands also doubled down on their dashboard screens in preparation for an autonomous driving future, with Continental showing off its latest ShyTech in-vehicle displays that automatically recede into the dashboard when not needed. When safety and security are taken care of by automated, connected devices, it will hopefully leave more room for consumers to pursue their passions and engage with the brands they love.
Metaverse overflowing across domains
Every year, there is a “next big thing” that reaches across the category and makes its way into nearly every product description, warranted or not. In years past we’ve seen voice assistants and 5G run rampant over the show floor; this year’s hot new buzzword is indisputably the metaverse, partly thanks to Facebook’s recent rebranding to Meta.
Across various innovation categories, the metaverse concept was generously applied to anything related to virtual spaces, whether as a home decor design platform from Samsung or the mixed-reality platform that Transmira developed to help businesses and creators attach AR and VR experiences to real-world locations. InWith even unveiled a pair of AR-enhanced contact lenses allegedly designed for interactions in the metaverse.
Funny enough, none of the companies that are demonstrating products related to the metaverse can agree on what the metaverse actually means. For Hyundai, the metaverse is a 3D digital platform called M. Vision Town, in which CES attendees can drive its two concept vehicles with personalized avatars. For 8chilli, the metaverse is an AR platform made specifically for physicians and healthcare professionals to connect with their patients. This chaotic and fragmented state confirms that we are still in the early stages of metaverse development, and it seems unlikely we will see true breakthroughs at a hardware-oriented event like CES.
Nevertheless, new hardware devices will open new portals for regular consumers to interact with the types of metaverse-lite environments that are in-market today, whether for gaming, entertainment or media use. Despite intentional mislabeling and overwhelming amount of noise around this concept, it is still worthwhile to keep an eye out for genuine experiments and use cases of the metaverse in 2022 and beyond.
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