Thursday, January 10, 2013

Consumer Electronics Show Day Two and some Absinthe in Las Vegas

Upon entering the Smart Homes and Digital Consumers seminar hosted by J.D. Power and Associates, I was greeted with the following quote from their president, Finbarr O'Neill:
"Consumer demand and expectations for digital lifestyle services continues to grow at a dramatic pace. The conveniences of monitoring and controlling more aspects of our lives through digital interface will change both engagement and dimensional aspects of the customer relationship."
I can't say that I don't agree. There's a clear and pressing need for Smart Home technologies at all scales of income. The one that I am most familiar with has to do with differently-abled individuals who rely upon assistive technology in order to live somewhat independently of a caregiver. However, these individuals can ill-afford the price tags of many assistive technology devices.

Think about this for a moment. We are entering a phase where technology in the home allows a quadriplegic to control all aspects of their environment. You can set the thermostat, turn lights on and off, change the channel on the television and operate a satellite DVR all without raising a finger. Home security is tied into this as well. You may have seen advertisements made by Xfinity touting their new remote camera systems allowing you to view activity both in and around your home.
This is the panel. We have Eric Anderson, Executive Vice President Products, Control4,
David VanderWaal, Director of LG Electronics USA, William F. Davidson,
Senior Vice President, Investor Relations at Qualcomm, and Chris Williams, Sr.
Director of Intelligent Home Product Development from Time Warner Cable
At the J.D. Power seminar, Time Warner indicated that they are rolling out the first of many intelligent homes in the next year. I thought this was excellent news.

Eric Anderson said there are many connection issues, and stressed that all of this "stuff" needs to be personalized and customized to each individual. We've gone from the generation of those that say "I want my MTV" to a generation that demands "I want all of my things from home available to me on the go." An interesting observation, but I can't say that I'm surprised given the selfish demands of the "me" generation.

The Qualcomm representative had a bunch of statistics. One of them purported that a person looks at their phone 160 times in a day (on average once every six minutes). So for them, the discussion is about visual appeal, battery life, and the fact that the "World is flat" which is a line stolen from a best-selling book and illustrated by the fact that social networks were key in making the "Arab Spring" a reality.
Because I know you guys love statistics, this is a pie chart that illustrates
how cable companies are leading the charge in providing Smart Home technologies
that everyone needs/wants. What do I say to this? Excellent. Lets regulate the
cable companies then. Regulation via public utility for a public service is the
only way to guarantee that these services "everyone needs" will be standardized
and that the price won't go up simply because the provider wants to make more money.
I'm sure "regulation" wasn't the point of the seminar. But it's what I was thinking
the entire time. I guess they really should check us democrats at the door.
Finally, the guy from L.G. stated that their goal is to promote ease of use, control, and lifestyle. Their goal through the use of their innovations is to give time back to the consumer.

All of the panelists agree on one thing. The need for Smart Home technologies is not just for the super rich. It is for everyone. Everyone will benefit from all of this and they want the companies to come together and create a standard so that everything will be compatible with everything else.

Then they started taking questions. Of course, you can count on me to bring up the uncomfortable question. And it did make the panelists jump a bit and caused the Qualcomm guy to utter, "I think I need to answer this question carefully."
The digital lifestyle ecosystem. It's a chart that shows how just paying
for cable leads to so many other roads, i.e., computer access, television,
movie rentals, game rentals, security, social networking, etc. Cable is
the doorway by which all things Smart Home will soon be possible.
I asked this, "If you are sitting up there saying that we all need these, I agree. This is even more true of the people that I help on a daily basis who have no ability to care for themselves without a care provider being around. So I ask you this: do you foresee the government coming in and regulating this industry just like a public utility? Would you oppose this? If you are saying that Smart Home Technology is a public service, then the price of those that offer it, i.e., Comcast or Xfinity needs to have price regulation just like a utility. In order for them to raise their prices, they should have to petition the government to be allowed to do so. Do you agree or disagree?"

There was a bit of "avoiding my question." It was their opinion that the only "regulation" that would need to take place revolves around privacy as they would be collecting massive amounts of information on consumers living in these homes in order to provide them with the best services. But other kinds of "regulation" might stifle innovation. Meh, that sounded a lot like a capitalist excuse.

Wednesday night, I attended the best show I've seen in Vegas yet. It's called Absinthe and it was at Caesar's Palace. It's in a very intimate setting and is for adults only. There's swearing, nudity, profanity, and audience members get randomly picked on by a foul-mouthed ring leader. But the Russian and Polish acrobats are not only gorgeous, but so close you can reach out and touch them. They even high five you during the show. Admittedly, I was in the front row.
If you like adult material (if you like my books basically), and watch rated-R
movies, go see this show in Vegas. It's truly a five star act. F*cking incredible
I might add. There's eye-candy for every sexuality IN SPADES.
All I remember from this night is blue eyes, a chiseled narrow nose, pronounced Adam's apple, and mousy brown hair...a Russian so beautiful, I'm speechless. I guess "Yay, Vegas!" applies because I'm glad for all those who escape from Putin's grasp. I just hope America treats them well. They certainly put in the hard work. I'm still in awe from the sheer display of strength that I saw only a few feet away. Guys doing hand stands thirty feet in the air with only one arm, girls getting slung around by their necks, and a high wire act without a net involving two guys carrying a third who balanced on top of a chair that was balanced on top of a pole. He almost fell, but caught himself. It was nerve wracking. None of them couldn't have been older than 30. And they performed many of their acts shirtless (girls included and one married man got titties rubbed on his face for you alpha males out there). She was oiled up too (and glistening). I think I'm going to write a Russian into my books. After this show, I don't see how I could avoid that.
This is a video someone uploaded on YouTube. I saw this from a few feet away in the front row. Crazy chair guy is so athletic, it's silly.

If you have the time, please go and visit Melissa's Imaginarium as she is kind enough to support me on my book tour today. You can find the link HERE.


  1. Already been to Melissa's.
    I don't look at my cell phone that often. Oh wait, I don't own a cell phone...

  2. too funny Alex, I think you and I must be the only 2 people left who don't have cell phones.

    Michael, that show looks like a lot of fun - both the electronics and the Absinthe, altho I was hoping you were going to tell me you had some absinthe because I've been dying to know what it tastes like.

  3. It's been a long time since I paid attention to CES

  4. You should have your "Meet the Press"-style talk show to make CEOs and politicians squirm.

  5. Intelligent homes? All this time I've worried that most people were smarter than me and soon I'll be able to worry that houses are too?

  6. Well, hopefully like everything else that gets mainstream adoption, the prices will drop as these things become more common.

  7. Maybe one day I'll make it to Vegas, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

  8. Rock the hell on, Michael! Good on you for asking the hard questions! I wish I could've been there to see them hot shots SQUIRM!

    (I'm not too bloodthirsty, am I?)

  9. Both of your topics are a little scary to me. While that type of technology is great if you need it, I find it pretty invasive. The Absinth show, would scare the crap out of me.

  10. Glad you're enjoying Vegas, Micheal :)

    I read something interesting about Smart Homes...maybe a year ago? It was about utilities and having all your utility usage completely transparent and instantly-accessable, so you could check your water and energy usage and adjust it from...well, anywhere. I think maybe that's only tangentially related to what you're talking about, though.

    Why to be a raging liberal with that question. I'm surprised nobody accused you of being a socialist, LOL!

  11. Very interesting. I'm glad to see you're having a great time.

  12. I completely agree with you on the technology thing. As a school teacher, I've seen more and more technology being used as the way to reach parents and enrich studies, but the neediest students often have the least access. It's frustrating.
    Looks like a great show.

  13. Well now, I have been meaning to get back to vegas...

  14. We got a new alarm system for the house and I was stunned at how much extra stuff it does. It's not 'smart home' level of stuff, but its still way more than I expected it to do.

  15. That was a smart question you asked regarding the regulation of prices for a technology the government will be buying. If the taxpayer is going to be picking up the tab, we should likely have an input on this.

  16. I love that you ask the tough (and smart) questions!
    At dinner with my parents on wednesday i totally brought up the automated car info.
    And also, that show sounds awesome.
    Finally, i don't check my phone that often. BUT! I also don't have a smart phone so there is that