Old Ideas Are New Again at the International Consumer Electronics Show

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I recapped my first CES trip with my 91-year-old grandfather. I told him all about the new toys coming out this year, starting with the new Audi Connect car that drives and parks itself, using your iPhone as its key. He mentioned that at the 1939 World’s Fair, General Motors introduced a self-driving car.

This got me thinking about other technological ideas from the past that are today becoming realities, and how this theme helped define what was “new” at this year’s CES.

My grandfather mentioned another example from the past, a kitchen appliance company that introduced the concept of a refrigerator and oven working together to prepare dinner. Your dinner would roll from the fridge across the floor and into the oven. While not the most sanitary of ideas, the concept is not all that far off from some advanced technology on display at the 2013 CES.

Samsung introduced their T900 Four-Door Refrigerator that has a built-in tablet with Evernote and an inventory app that lets you itemize what’s inside. Between these two applications, you will probably never again forget something on your shopping list. This fridge also relates to something will.i.am (formerly of the Black Eyed Peas) said during The Next Generation of Innovators keynote address: “Why shouldn’t your fridge send you a reminder to pick up milk as you are driving by the grocery store? Shouldn’t everything be connected?”

At this point, I think we are getting there. Technology is advancing, but it also means that, as humans, we are ensuring that everything is connected. This can be a great benefit, or a great burden if it gets to be too much like “Big Brother” is watching you.

The idea of everything being connected was a big trend throughout CES and one of the main points made during the Brand Matters keynote and panel that focused on how brands and consumers engage with digital media. What I took away from this session was connecting your content across different forms of media is key to developing a “circle of love with your brand.”

As an example of how customer care and service are changing with technological advances: if something is not working in your smart fridge, it should alert the manufacturer and let the consumer know that the company has identified a problem and is going to fix it. If the fridge can remind us to pick up groceries, it should also be able to fix itself.

Brands need to constantly continue to work better with partners, employees and clients, and market themselves accordingly. Here is a video to the full keynote and panel:

This was my first time at CES, and I was amazed by the new technologies, many of them old ideas made new again. I now understand what all the hype is about. These technologies are making our lives easier, and changing how we communicate and interact with the world around us – including my grandfather and me!

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