by Robert Acquaotta, SVP Integrated Media

We started CES 2020 at a “level-set” breakfast presentation with Shelly Palmer, sponsored by Discovery Networks, where to paraphrase one of Shelly’s comments, “there’s nothing new at the show.” We were able to confirm, after four days of exploration and tens of thousands of Fitbit-recorded steps, in general he was correct. There was not much that was unexpected, or that we had not heard of or seen before, to make us stop and say “wow”. But as in years’ past we have attempted to curate a selection of the most interesting new products, themes and innovations that will make a real difference in people’s lives or impact our world of marketing and advertising. We covered much of this in our first three posts. Here’s a hodgepodge of everything else that made us stop and say “wow”.

Toyota’s Woven City

We wrote earlier of Hyundai’s compelling vision of the future of mobility. At first look, Toyota’s vision bears a close resemblance to Hyundai’s idea of Purpose-Built Vehicles (PBVs): essentially a box on wheels with a low floor and open interior that can be configured for any use (delivery truck, mobile restaurant/food truck, medical care.) Toyota’s take on PBV’s, which they call e-Palette, includes a Micro-Palette that can deliver items from the truck to a humans’ door.


CES 2020 Toyota e-Palette


From this point, Toyota’s vision becomes dramatically more expansive. Their booth included a 360-degree immersive experience providing a glimpse at their ideas for a future smart city. But that’s not all: Toyota is building an actual full-scale prototype of this vision called “Woven City” at the foot of Mt. Fuji in Japan. The community will be a fully connected ecosystem powered by hydrogen fuel cells. It is envisioned as a “living laboratory” where full-time residents will be supported by technologies like in-home robotics and autonomous vehicles to enhance daily life. If that is not already awe-inspiring, let us repeat that this is happening: groundbreaking is planned early 2021.


CES 2020 Toyota's Woven City


Olive Smart Ear

Olive addresses two issues in the burgeoning market for hearing loss aids: 1. The stigma some feel with wearing something that looks like a hearing aid, and 2. The time and typically high expense involved with seeing a doctor for testing and purchasing a prescribed solution. Olive tackles these two issues brilliantly: 1. Beautifully designed earpieces that more closely resemble earbud wireless headphones, and 2. A DIY approach that allows the consumer to order the package from Amazon, conduct their own hearing test using the earpiece and accompanying app and immediately begin using the product custom-tuned to their needs from the test. With the cost savings alone from this approach (reducing treatment cost from thousands of dollars to a few hundred), Olive can potentially shake up this growing market and help millions of people.


CES 2020 Olive Smart Ear


Cooking Pal Julia

For all those fans of Insta-Pot who have been waiting for the next hard-working, multi-tasking kitchen device, you are in luck. Cooking Pal’s first new product, Julia, is a food processer/blender/cooking tool all-in-one. If you are questioning the logic of this particular combination of tools, it’s probably because you did not sip the sublime creamy mushroom soup they were sampling to the CES crowd (prepared onsite in their booth, 30 minutes, prep and cook time total.) Julia will cost less than $1,000 and will be available via Amazon in Q3 2020.


CES 2020 Cooking Pal Julia


Honorable Mentions

Bosch Virtual Visor – an idea so simple idea you wonder why it hadn’t been done yet. This innovation from Bosch replaces a traditional sun visor with a transparent LCD display. Two layers of AI work to locate your face and eyes and determine the shadow projected to indicate the angle of the sun. When sun glare strikes, only the glare area of the sun is blacked out leaving you a broader view of the road.

Nanoleaf Canvas – these are modular light squares that can be used to create designs on walls or applied in a manner resembling a tiled wall. They do not appear appropriate for replacing the tile in hard-working, heavy moisture areas like kitchen backsplashes or bathrooms, but for the many who love the mood-changing effect of Philips Hue lighting, this is a novel way to decorate.

Air Selfie – the name is fully descriptive: a mini-drone with a camera makes selfie sticks more uncool than they already were. For $99, this is a flying camera you release from your hand, it flies a short distance away, takes your picture and then returns to the palm of your hand. Fun!

Royole Flexible Display – we wrote previously about this brand that we never heard of because they brought an actual folding phone to show off at CES 2019. One year later, it appears they have learned that their technology innovation may have been more about their flexible display screen than the phone. This year’s booth featured, as a centerpiece, a tree covered with color-changing “leaves”. Look closely, and you can see that each “leaf” is an individual flexible display:


CES 2020 Royole Flexible Display



Having returned from the show, taken a breath and revisited the experience, here are a few addendums to earlier posts:

  • 5G: no sooner had we pressed “send” for our CES Day One Report on 5G (and how it is still going to take a while) than we attended the Day Two Quibi Keynote. Sure enough, this presentation included declarations from T-Mobile’s CEO on how important 5G is for new brands and technology like Quibi, and how T-Mobile offers nationwide 5G. While true, not all 5G that is currently being marketed is the same. T-Mobile’s 5G works on a longer range, low-band spectrum than AT&T or Verizon, so it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison vs. the other providers. Let the consumer 5G confusion begin!
  • Streaming Wars: while writing about this topic (or lack of its presence) at CES in our Day Two Report, Verizon elsewhere announced significant changes to how FiOS will market their content bundles. Their announcement might mark the turning point of consumers threatening to switch carriers or cancel cable in order to get a lower subscription cost. Next time you try to do that with FiOS, they are likely to offer you a number of options for paying less to get less. Expect the cable companies to follow suit.
  • In our Day Three Report, we thought it mildly absurd that a hyper luxury vehicle like the Lamborghini Huracan Evo was being promoted as “works with Alexa.” In hindsight, it probably would have helped to include a photo of the “screaming orange” vehicle and the adjacent logos to better convey that point:


CES 2020 Lamborghini Huracan Evo


One last thought: if appliances and homes are so “smart”, why do we have to tell them what to do? Shouldn’t they just…do? We’ll table that thought until CES 2021.