CES was back in full force this year after two years of virtual & hybrid conventions, and we spent three days hunting down the best in technology. Though there were a lot of impressive, practical, and downright clever innovations, we kept an eye out for technology that could be applied to marketing and brand activations specifically. And we certainly found some!
Here are our top picks from CES 2023:
Immersive technologies like VR can enhance a user's experience, both as it relates to the real world (events, exhibits) and the virtual world (the metaverse), through sight alone. OVR Technologies has created an innovative accessory that further augments reality by incorporating another one of the senses - scent.
The advanced technology clips under any VR headset (such as the Meta Quest) and brings back what was known as "smell-o-vision" but in a more functional way. The cartridge’s eight primary aromas can be combined to create custom scents. Users can smell a variety of scents while immersed in virtual worlds including roses, campfire, marshmallow, and even dirt. Eventually, users and brands will be able to customize aromas to match experiences.
Museums, exhibits, location-based entertainment, and experiential activations can leverage OVR's digital scent technology to provide users with a more unique immersive experience. Imagine letting users smell an artist's depiction of a landscape, a character’s cologne in a movie or TV show, or new dishes being prepared at restaurants.
AR lets brands develop smart retail experiences to influence buying decisions. TCL introduced their RayNeo AR headset which uses full-color Micro-LED optical waveguide displays alongside interactive features of AR. The glasses have built-in assistant features which range from smart navigation and auto-translation to retail and media.
AR glasses can enhance the shopping experience, displaying product information and even in-room display before the user makes a purchase. These added features could boost sales through increased consumer confidence. They also streamline accessing experiences in the metaverse that can be overlaid within physical areas in the real-world. Brands can place users within brand activations in physical locations through AR glasses, and customers can engage with the augmented environment, enhancing the experience.
HaptX Glove’s DK2 provides a realistic touch sensation while users are immersed in virtual experiences. The gloves use microfluidic actuators across the user's fingers and palms, offering a sort of physical feedback. The actuators physically displace users' skin, so when they touch and interact with virtual objects, the objects feel real.
This technology has use cases in advertising and can even directly help increase sales. In a retail environment, users can touch and feel objects that may be for pre-order only, further compelling them to buy. The gloves can also be incorporated into experiential events, immersing users into the experience through interaction with the virtual environment.
AR social platform Arbeon combines social and e-commerce with augmented reality. Within the app, users can scan a product in front of them to post. The app then opens an AR social media cloud where users can see social content (video reviews, social ratings, comments and more) through their phone’s camera. The app also uses machine learning to pull in contextual information such as related products, purchase links and other metadata.
Brands can leverage existing social and influencer content to enrich a product’s description. Sales, offers and other promos can be displayed in AR above the product to further incentivize purchase.
There were several flexible, curved and bendable LED displays at the convention. These screens are great for displaying digital content in non-traditional venues like subways, walkways, outdoor spaces, airports, and more. The display can be fitted to specific spaces without the limitations of standard flat screens. Panel Semi was one of these new vendors, offering a variety of curved displays that fit into unique shapes such as a tube-shaped display. Samsung also had a number of curved displays.
Curved displays can capture attention more effectively compared to traditional screens given the wider range of angles making them more visible in crowded or busy areas. Additionally, curved displays reduce glare, making the image on the display more impactful. The screens can also create a more immersive experience for viewers by producing a more lifelike image.
Plex, a video streaming media platform, is launching a TV video-on-demand store, providing rentals to consumers.The expansion will let viewers find movies or TV shows to rent or purchase on its marketplace by Q2 of this year. They’ll also be offering ad-supported rentals, which is definitely an industry first.
Plex’s video store will let users create a customized "build your own" streaming service hub where they can pick and choose what to watch from a range of studios, services and channels - without being limited to specific subscription services. Advertisers will have an additional way to target audiences of specific titles, genres, and performers.
SONY is capitalizing on the Grand Turismo franchise by cross-promoting the release of their Playstation VR2 headset along with a new film. The new VR2 headset release will include the highly anticipated Gran Turismo 7 game which leads into the theatrical release of the first film of the franchise (slated for theatrical release in August 2023).
With Gran Turismo, Sony is crafting a dual onscreen experience, eliciting an emotional ride in theaters as well as while playing the game on the Playstation VR2. Their approach synergises audiences across the SONY universe while pulling more interest and awareness towards the film franchise specifically. In addition to combining the worlds of gaming and cinema, this is the first time a major film has been promoted at CES in this way.
We saw a number of new products from companies small and large that create a universal smart home via the Matter protocol. Matter is a network protocol and its biggest promise is making smart devices work with each other across platforms and ecosystems. It's entirely local, so gadgets can respond more quickly while being able to run completely offline.
Matter technology allows for an easier and more efficient way to control and manage connected devices in the home, which reduces a barrier to entry for smart home products and devices. With more smart home tech being made available to the masses, marketers will have more opportunities to identify, target, and reach users with more and more relevant ads and quality content.
Digital maps have been used across industries for years, though platform limitations have historically been a barrier in leveraging mapping and location data. HERE Technologies has introduced a new product to change that. UniMap is a highly automated mapping tool that enables instant creation of digital maps and location products for any type of location, whether it be a single event space, a restaurant with multiple rooms, or a meeting space with multiple levels.
This automating of map data processing and map creation allows for better tracking and targeting while keeping user’s privacy in mind. The on-demand tool also helps enhance a user’s experience in a mapped space while providing hosts with data on how to better optimize said experience.
CES 2023 introduced a number of technologies - both hardware and software - with the potential to help brands optimize their marketing. From the evolution of VR to incorporate the sense of smell, to innovative displays, to AR-powered social commerce, these are examples of technological advancements which will help businesses better engage with their audiences and provide more personalized experiences. We look forward to working with our clients to implement and innovate on these technologies, and already look forward to seeing what CES 2024 has in store for us.