ICBA COO, Jon Bibo, continues his reports from the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show with this recap of Day 1 and 2.

Well, in 27 years at CES, I don’t remember having to buy an over-priced umbrella from the hotel gift shop—but this year, a steady rain throughout CES Day 1 made logistics even more challenging than normal. Of course, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I know fruit is healthy, so I doubled-up with a bowl of fruit AND a bowl of Fruit Loops (mama didn’t raise no dummy).

Equipped with my Dr. Scholl’s $1.88 single pillow shoe insoles, a 11,000 mAh portable phone charger, 100 business cards, and an “eye of the tiger” attitude, I entered the CES arena looking to gain insight on the latest tech out now and coming soon and, more importantly, looking for “stuff” our channel can sell profitably.

Then, while it was sunny, on Day 2, condensation from the rain caused a problem with the power to the convention center, and the unthinkable happened: a 2-hour blackout on the show floor during show hours!! Read the details on CNN.com.

As I have done in year’s past, I will separate my observations into two groups: 1) interesting/awe-inspiring; and 2) college store selling opportunities…

Here's What's Getting the Buzz at CES

With all new tech, there’s a promise of time/cost saving and of convenience…of higher productivity with less effort, but there are also issues around ethics and privacy and more (I’ve watched the Terminator movies many times, so that makes me kind of an expert on dystopian “tech gone wild” future scenarios). All-in-All, however, I think optimistically about technology and its ability to enhance our lives and society…

  • Autonomous driving vehicles are here now and will be part of everyone’s lives soon. Cars, Drone Copters (“drop-ters?!?”…uh oh), mini ATVs that act as pack mules when you hike, Pizza Delivery (do I have to tip the car??).
    • So, here’s the thing…will autonomous vehicles make good choices? There was a discussion where a speaker said, “Traffic nuances will require human interpretation.” Uhh…nuances?? Like, there is a squirrel and a soccer ball in the road, which should I hit? Is that a nuance? Lots of smart people are “working” these issues.
  • Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). We are on the precipice of these technologies revolutionizing entertainment, learning, sports viewing, and shopping.
    • The rich content needed to make VR/AR compelling requires massive amounts of data to be processed and stored. The Intel CES theme is the “Power of Data” and similar themes are present in many booths.
    • VOXELS was the buzz word, essentially 3D pixels, and processing 3D video requires billions of voxels.
    • 5G networks are coming soon and will also help in processing huge amounts of data.
    • In terms of storage, we’ve walked the path of kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes, terabytes, petabytes, and exabytes. Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to the Zettabyte (the equivalent of 1,000 exabytes). Tech companies need to start processing data in zettabytes: zowie!
  • There are two college store opportunities here:
    • Advanced digital adaptive course materials are increasingly utilizing VR to create a richer learning experience. College stores can work with publishers to understand what is available, and what devices are needed to access the content.
    • General Merchandise vendors are integrating VR/AR into the store shopping experience.
      • AR fitting rooms are going to be pervasive in retail stores everywhere and enable customers to see how they will look in a AR mirror.
      • Tech accessories vendor STM Goods (a long-time ICBA partner!) was showing very cool “scan and see” tools next to products that enable customers to interact with, say, a backpack in a 3D manner never before possible. NOTE: STM will be showing this off at the ICBA Conference in Anaheim.
  • Accessory opportunities abound for college stores
    • Every new device from hardware companies creates add-on selling opportunities.
      • Chargers, docks, specialized and/or fashion cables, hubs, wireless charging, adapters, and cases are essential items to increase customer satisfaction and to increase sales and margins.

More to come in my next update, as I continue to explore CES…