E. B. Moss: Hey, it's E.B. Moss from MediaVillage and this is Episode 12, basically live from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. I’m with MediaVillage Journalist David Polinchock who’s an expert at CES. So... We're mic’d up together and we're going to walk around, enjoy the ambient sounds of CES 2018, and I'm going to tap your brain... a Vulcan mind meld!, appropriately for CES. We're going to ask you to give us some insights.
INTRO: Ready for some insights from those inside the media, marketing and advertising industry? Welcome to Insider Insight from MediaVillage. MediaVillage.com is the home for exclusive thought leadership with content by, for and about agencies and networks. From digital experts and add tech providers to CMO's and CRO's. With villages of content focused on everything from Wall Street reports to women in media. Now let's get some insights.
David: First stop? We're here at the Google Home gallery. They've put together a kind of cool exhibit of what you can do with Google Home and how it's changing how we all live.
E. B. Moss: Wow, great. Google has been sponsoring everything including the city monorail where they even piped in some pretty compelling audio. So when you're a captive audience on the monorail it's instructing you to learn how to utilize Google Home like saying, "Hey Google play me some soothing music" - which is good for when you're trapped on the monorail to hear little bubbling brook sounds. They really have done a good job in their convention sponsorship presence.
David: This kind of new audio assistant is what we're getting in homes and in the rest of our lives. One of the AR head manufacturers announced a partnership with Alexa so you get voice control in your heads-up display now so you can see how this is changing how people are really doing things at home. One person on my last tour had one of the voice connection systems all throughout their house and realized they had to take it out of the kids room because the kids were doing their homework by asking it all the questions and just getting all the answers. You know, there's good and bad with everything. But this ability to ask a simple question, or check my schedule works because if I already have "Hey Google" phone I can use it and I get information there but now I can move it around from thing to thing. I think what people are looking for at large is a connection of all their things so it's not "I have this list over here and this list over here". So the fact that I can ask Hey Google on my phone but when I get home at night I can follow up the conversation with my Google Home Assistant because it's all connected.
E. B. Moss: Oh, so the connectivity. Got it.
David: The other thing they've been working on are ear buds that translate something like 70 languages. It literally is the communicator that we saw for 20 years on Star Trek.
E. B. Moss: So, I can date a person who doesn't speak English!
David: That's correct. And, if you look over here we also have it in air conditioners and washing machines and a variety of things now. So that's what, to me, becomes really exciting about this: you're seeing Hey Google as you're seeing Alexa and other products leave the single device and being incorporated into all of our lives.
E. B. Moss: Google Home really was everywhere at CES; trying to connect the dots with audio and smart speakers and voice assistants. The other thing that was everywhere was Audio. I spoke to Tom Webster of Edison Research, as well as the head of marketing for Audio-Technica who had some unique ways to use headphones.
E. B. Moss: Tom Webster was on the panel on the smart speaker research that just came out from Edison Research in conjunction with NPR. So I grabbed him afterwards. ...Hey Tom... That was fascinating. I know that you're going to be sharing some more of this information though MediaVillage in general, but specifically, a couple of things jumped out at me today were the fact that gifting over the 2017 holiday season really should've exponentially upped ownership of smart speakers. So that was good?
Tom: Yeah, we've seen the initial adoption of smart speakers grow at a clip more than we saw smart phone adoption grow when we first started tracking. It's certainly both Amazon and Google coming out with $29 units had a lot to do with that but I think eventually we're going to stop caring about the devices themselves because that technology is going to just be baked into everything.
E. B. Moss: So, that's an interesting point because Google is all over the show and promoting their digital assistant, Hey Google, but it's still only about 70% in devices own versus Alexa. What do you think it needs to do to compete more? By the way I think you said we're at about 16% ownership in America right now, so there's still plenty of growth opportunity there. What do you see the differences being and how do you see it competing more?
Tom: I think, first of all I have no doubt that they're both going to be very competitive devices for a long time to come and for a lot of people it's just learning the use cases. We do know from the previous iterations of Smart Audio Report that we found with NPR 88% of the people who have an Alexa are Amazon Prime members. So there is a natural connection there. They're already being marketed to, in a way that is contextual for them. I think the more that Google educates listeners about what these devices can do and just more devices. Again the technology is just going to start being baked into everything and by the way it's already on your phone. One of the interesting things we found in our research is that 44% of smart speaker users tell us they're using the audio assistants on their phone more as a result of using the smart speaker. So it's just learning education and getting people context.
E. B. Moss: And a brand that has good social media followers will do a service to those followers and enhances its own position by teaching them how to use smart speaker skills that they've created, right?
Tom: Absolutely. I think we used to ask ten years ago "What's your mobile strategy?" Now I think it's a valid question to ask what your audio strategy is because people want to communicate with brands. They want to communicate with brands that they care about and they want to have those kinds of relationships and those kinds of experiences.
E. B. Moss: So last question.... You mentioned a couple of the obstacles that we still have to continue to overcome: the perception of trust and the perception of security. What do you see happening?
Tom: Well, those are valid concerns. First of all far be it from me to poo poo them because they are in fact valid concerns and when we interviewed people who don't own a smart speaker but who are interested in the category; three of their top concerns were all related to security, privacy, insuring their data, having the government listen in on their data. These are all valid concerns and all of the makers of this technology are going to have to find ways to address them because it's one thing to say "O.K. Google or Alexa play some Fleetwood Mac" it's another to start reciting your credit card number into it or something and those concerns are going to have to be addressed.
E. B. Moss: ...So now I'm heading to Audio-Technica. You might know them for their turntables and headphones. They are giving me a welcome treat of a chair massage...I'm going to put my noise-canceling headphones on right now....
Speaker 5: "Let's begin by centering on the breath. ... slowly exhale and imagine your breath moving out through your ears as well. Cleansing them, forcing out all the toxic noise you've observed from the show floor and setting it a flame to burn off like so much painful gas..."
E. B. Moss: That was one of the funnest ideas on the show floor. It was practical and sort of like a forced pre-roll listen in a good way. So I'm speaking to Director of Marketing Communications for Audio-Technica, Jeff Simcox.
Jeff: Hi. How are you doing? Are you relaxed?
E. B. Moss: I'm so much more relaxed. How did you come up with the idea?
Jeff: Well, what's one of the reasons for wearing noise-canceling headphones? You want to relax, knock out all the annoying sounds and get into yourself, into the music. We just thought on the CES show floor we'd add that little extra thing to help you relax and lose yourself and have a massage while you're enjoying the headphones. My boss is like "You've got them in the chair so give them a sales pitch." And I'm like "who wants to lay there and just hear a dry sales pitch"? So it was our way of saying "Okay, you know, [inaudible 00:11:30] in that we can give you a little bit of entertainment, give you a little bit of a laugh. Now feel the tension escape from your ears like so much painful gas." It was one of my favorite lines.
E. B. Moss: As we made our way though CES you couldn't help notice autonomy everywhere. From autonomous cars to the super sonic Hyperloop; also autonomous public transportation helping the lesser abled.
E. B. Moss: Initiating autonomous drive. I'm about to experience it, in 90 seconds. What it's like to be on the road and not in control. I'm at the Intel booth right now. Very cool. But I think it might drive me a little bit nuts if I had to hear all of the play by play of the autonomous driver. Pedestrian detected, anomaly detected, slow down.
E. B. Moss: Now we're at Hyperloop and I'm talking to the Director of Marketing Ryan Kelly. Ryan, It looks like a long monorail pod from the future. What is it?
Ryan: Elon Musk in 2013 had a vision for a new form of transportation. A bunch of VCs at Silicon Valley got together and founded Hyperloop One. Now we are actually Virgin Hyperloop One, three years later, which is very exciting. So now Richard Branson is now our chairman.
Ryan: I'll tell you a little bit about the technology. Hyperloop basically the pod that you're looking at just broke a speed record, which is really exciting. We went 240 miles per hour in 300 meters at our test site 40 miles outside of Las Vegas. We're really excited about. So how does that work, how did we get there and why do we think it's the future of transportation? Hyperloop is in a tube so this pod was in a tube, we suck out almost all the air out of the tube to almost zero atmospheric pressure. It's not a full vacuum but very, very close. What that does is it provides frictionless travel. What does that mean? That means we can reach higher speeds than Maglev trains that you might see in Japan, in niche markets. It also means that it's more energy efficient and effective because we're using passive magnetic levitation. So that means once we start and accelerate at that point we're floating. So this actually levitates above a track, which is pretty unbelievable. From a cost perspective that's huge cost saving, not only for energy efficiency but also for building track, et cetera.
E. B. Moss: I know the sustainability aspect is very important to Mr. Branson.
Ryan: Huge. Yeah, it's absolutely. So sustainability is definitely something that we're looking towards. We'd like to get something up and running by 2021 and if you think about where we're going to be in 2021 with autonomous vehicles, with cleaner energy and we're completely energy agnostic solution, which we're really excited about. Not only going fast but thinking about how the future of transportation works.
David: Right, so being both New Yorkers I know you've gotten some approval for New York track, from discussions.
Ryan: Well, there's discussions. We are a very ... even though some people might see this as a cry in the sky opportunity a lot of our executives have worked in government before. We know how the system works in the United States. You have to go through a regulatory and safety process. We don't want to be seen as a paperwork company that's going to disappear in two years faking all these different things.
Ryan: So we have directors of policy here that are working with the federal government. We've made headway in places like Colorado where legislature has signed a memorandum of understanding to look at these. That's actually started already but you have to remember that we need to make sure that it's safe for passengers and we need to go though our safety process. So we kind of understand that but I think it's really interesting because we kind of have a VC type philosophy and coming and working with government. Those are some of the slowest movers. So kind of working that out, working for structure has historically been or seen as a slower moving process. Merchants of VC digital world and then combining this with structure is a really interesting combination. Not only have we seen progress in the United States, we've seen progress in the UN [inaudible 00:16:52] road and transit authority there, we have a proposal to them. The Netherlands and some Scandinavian countries. Started to talk about the UK as well. So we've made some groundwork.
David: So, if I'm inside what's my experience?
Ryan: Sure. Actually we're partnering with Here Technologies and this is the booth that we're outside of right now. This is the first time that we're talking about the passenger experience in public. 2017 for us was what we call our kitty hawk moment, prove the technology works. Now 2018 is about lets get real, how do we commercialize, what's the experience going to look like, how we work with regulators, et cetera. In the same way that in the digital space we expect fast on demand and we expect a personalized, customized experience we're trying to bring that into the infrastructure mind frame, which hasn't necessarily been the case because this is one of the first new forms of transportation over 100 years, We're trying to incorporate this thing.
Ryan: Let's say I book a ticket for the Hyperloop. I want that experience to be one, for example, where I'm here in Las Vegas I have turn by turn walking directions so if I'm inside this crazy convention center I see yes I know I have to walk down the stairs and to the right of the Starbucks to go get my Uber, which will already be there because they know that it takes ten minutes for me to walk out of this craziness. Take my Uber to the Hyperloop get in the Hyperloop, they know that I'm having a meeting with three other people that I met at CES so they're going to give me a customized pod with meeting table et cetera. Versus I've had enough of CES and I don't want to talk to anyone I know and I just want a silent pod and then when I get off the Hyperloop powered by Here Technologies in the future when we get this thing up and running. My Uber's already there and potentially maybe there are other apps like Seamless, et cetera, that by the time I get home my pizza is there.
E. B. Moss: Will this exercise for us also because you just eliminated all of the walking that we do.
Ryan: Well, I don't think it's there. All the pieces are there so I don't think it's that far of a stretch to get there. Imagine all the pieces and components are there we just got to put it together.
E. B. Moss: Yeah, a much different experience than trying to get on the monorail with 5000 other people all crammed into one car, which took me 40 minutes.
Ryan: Let's talk about that because that brings up a really good point. So what we'd like to do with the Hyperloop is have pods leaving, seconds; fast, fast, fast. When you have a train that has certain point A to B stops everyone is crammed on the train and then pushes out at the same time. Here we're aiming for consistency so that the other modes of transportation that we're connecting with create more of a flat traffic environment versus these waves where they're not ready.
E. B. Moss: I love it. Ryan, thank you so much.
Ryan: Thank you so much.
E. B. Moss: So we stopped at the booth called Accessible Olli and I'm speaking with Brittany Stotler of Local Motors. So tell me what the connection is Brittany.
Brittany: So we are here to show a new project that was announced last CES with CTA Foundation, IBM, and Local Motors. Talking about what it means for people with disabilities or that may not have the function that everyone else has and then as well as the aging community. Trying to make vehicles that are going to be pulling the drivers and age out of them because they're self driving vehicles. Trying to figure out how these people are going to start interacting with the vehicle, making it easier for them and ideally providing them more freedom. We based this on personaes, such as Eric who, though blind legally, he did not start out blind; he's actually an engineer from IBM and was one of the big people behind trying to help us figure out how to make a vehicle and make an Olli stop accessible for somebody who is visually impaired. Another persona is wheelchair bound but doesn't like to call attention to that aspect. So having the accessible Olli be able to communicate with them and use these vehicles allows them the freedom to be going out without someone else there to continually load them because they would roll onto Olli themselves and it automatically secures their wheelchair. Push a button to release them, they can roll back out of the Olli stop and they're all set to go. So ideally you'll have an app on your phone requesting to get on the next Olli that's coming into the station with your preferences set, so if you are in a wheelchair, if you visually have issues or maybe it's your hearing Olli can actually sign back and forth to you though the stop and through the actual vehicle. We’ve got a couple of different options that we're working with so ultrahaptics - a really neat technology system which, for those who can't see or have limited mobility they can actually ... rather than having to press a button ... can just wave their hand in front of it and you feel it and it creates like a virtual button for them. But there's also extendable to some vibrations that can actually drive them to an open seat so they don't have that awkward moment they maybe have to deal with on a daily basis of maybe actually sitting on somebody that's already there but they couldn't see them.
E. B. Moss: What's the revenue model for this?
Brittany: We are selling Olli and Ollie stops to cities - master planned communities, which is where a lot of the elderly will come into play - and then into large campuses and theme parks. Everybody across the board is thinking about how to integrate Ollie because it helps pull down costs: they can move people out of a bus driver position and turn them into another position, gives them a few new skill sets hopefully.
E. B. Moss: Is there an opportunity or a plan to take advantage of some of the data capture via the app?
Brittany: There is potential. Currently we would own all of that data though our app but depending on the partnership it could potentially be a white label for a city’s Olli. They can wrap it however they want on the exterior. There's potential for glassine products, you can put text, you can have a video playing, and it'll go on any of our windows so it turns into almost mobile advertising.
David: For our readers and our listeners in this case, I think, this is an opportunity to reach this new audience in a very compelling way.
Brittany: Right. You're just the only [crosstalk 00:24:35]. So you're on a university campus and you have all these students that are getting on, they're going from their parking structures to a certain place on campus but they're going to go by Pete's Coffee every single morning and as they're rolling up or they're getting ready to go up to that stop Pete's Coffee advertising comes up on the app or it comes up within the bus to show come inside tell us you were just on Olli and here's your code and you get a discount. It starts driving traffic and then that's another way that the whoever's purchasing to actually operate the vehicles they can start recuperating and making money on the advertising piece.
E. B. Moss: So a traffic driver driving traffic.
Brittany: We're trying to get rid of traffic.
E. B. Moss: Thank you so much for your time [inaudible 00:25:21] Beautifully stated and a very important application for all members of our community to be able to be more mobile ...
Brittany: More freedom for them so thank you to all of our partners.
E. B. Moss: For a less autonomous but very elevating experience we spoke to the Head of Marketing for Workhorse. He described their octocoper.
E. B. Moss: So what are we officially calling this? This is experimental [crosstalk 00:25:54]
Workhorse: That's a good question. We've just been calling it personal electric octocopter. Octocopter, eight things octo.
David: What's the range on it?
Workhorse: 70 miles.
David: That's pretty good, that many miles.
Workhorse: Gasoline generator that powers it so once you go 70 miles toward hop you gas up ready for the next hop. Not waiting for the lithium-ion battery for hours to charge up and all that stuff. You can just keep going. Normal helicopter you have to have pedals and those handles. This doesn't have any pedals or any of that stuff. We fly like a drone. So it'd be, you know ...
David: You don't fly it like a drone.
Workhorse: I mean we had this on display in Paris and all the kids that came in 15 they could jump in there, let's go, let's take it up because they're so familiar with the video game and all that stuff. So that's the way this flies.
E. B. Moss: So what's the flying experience like? I mean I've been in a glider and I've been in a helicopter, somewhere in the middle?
Workhorse: Yeah, I would say so. It wouldn't be as much as a glider, which is just pretty basic but it is also not as complicated as the helicopter. See this only has a ceiling height of flying of 4000 feet. Okay, so it's just enough that you're up and you're flying. So, it's meant to be like a different method of transportation. In America the helicopter's been here for 78 years, last year in America they sold 1000 of them new, that's not that big of a market. So we're not really planning on taking market share from commission on helicopter. We're kind of planning on creating a new category. So you've got to think of it as a new way of transportation, like we were kidding around about the New York City and all that stuff.
David: And what's the price point on it or what will it be?
Workhorse: We have price point at 200,000 dollars and at this show we can take your name and ...
E. B. Moss: Take Credit Cards?
Workhorse: $1,000 and your place is saved in line and then we would probably start delivering them in 2020.
E. B. Moss: It looks like a Workhorse experimental aircraft.
Workhorse: The name of the craft is Surefly. So it's Surefly with safety and that and background.
E. B. Moss: David and I saw AR, audio, autonomy, everything at CES and we talked about how it all came together.
David: So one of the trends we just to look at in general is we just saw with Olli and what they're doing. There's a huge population growing old.
E. B. Moss: Yes.
David: And it's a key population that has a certain expectation level of service and experience and technology and that's only getting bigger. You're seeing a lot of brands really trying to figure out how do we deal with population that's having vision problems and mobility problems and hearing problems. All the things people my age are starting to think about.
E. B. Moss: The 25 year olds.
David: The 25 year olds. Again, when ... as we joked ... but when you think about the 25 year olds they are very tech savvy. They're the Hyperloop audience, they don't want to be waiting on the street corner for the M35 without having any idea, in the rain, when it's coming, when was the last time it was here, did I just miss it. You know, the stuff we do every day. So you're seeing mobility things like Olli and transportation systems and whole ecosystems. You're seeing companion bots. You're seeing machine learning, artificial intelligence, computer vision coming into play to do things like my mom lives far away it's hard for me to necessarily be on top of her. And I don't know if she wants me to be on top of her; all that family dynamic.
E. B. Moss: So, we actually have a theme here and it kind of wraps things up beautifully because we've seen the connected appliances, connected home. We've seen the connectivity between devices and how to make things easier in life and not having to pick up one device to do one thing and one device to do another. We've seen the continuity between I want to get some place and how do I get there. So everything is connecting us whether it's virtually or physically like with Olli, like with the experimental aircraft, like everything we've seen today is all about connectivity.
David: It really is and the big thing is it's connectivity that has value to you and me not connectivity that has value to some corporation. That's where people really get the difference. I'm excited about a technology that will help my life be better and in the course of my life being better the company makes money off of that, that's great.
E. B. Moss: Like the last example with Olli. Where there is branding opportunities on and within it but it's giving me something of value.
David: That's correct. There equates down when the consumer feels there's no value it's changed for them. Gen Zs might say, "We get that brands trap us every day and we're okay with that, that's the world and we're fine. But what they're not okay with is that you track me every day and then you don't know who I am, if you're going to watch everything I buy you should know what I buy. You should know what I've bought and stop telling me what I've already bought.”
E. B. Moss: So if you're going to connect with me, connect in a meaningful way, connect in a valuable way and ...
David: Imagine you have a friend who asks you the same question over and over and over again. Right, then eventually you stop hanging out with that friend. So that's where this connectivity has great value to us as human beings. Great value.
E. B. Moss: David thank you so much. This was invaluable to have a guide like you. This is Insider Insight live from the Consumer Electronics Show. I'm E. B. Moss, Managing Editor for MediaVillage. Check us out MediaVillage.com and thanks for listening.