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CES '19 from a Philly perspective (Wrap)

Tom Paine

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CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) is not designed for most early stage startups without wads of VC money, because the total cost of exhibiting there is too expensive.

Startups that want to make an impression at the show can work on getting placed on panel discussions, partner under the umbrella of a larger exhibitor, or exhibit at a parallel show at a a nearby venue. Or just roam the hall to collect market intelligence and develop contacts.

In the past, shows like the Trenton Computer Festival (to be held on March 23 this year) were invaluable to startups seeking to reach the cognesecti or just geeks face-to-face. TCF is still a great event, but not as important as it was in the pre-internet days. Millenials who have grown up with the Internet probably don't realize how hard it was in the psst to get product information, or to understand a vendor's roadmap.

CES '19 was similar for the Philly startup community; a number of companies represented but few exhibitors.

One that tried a novel approach was Promobot, a Russian state-backed venture that claims Warminster as its home office on its website. One of its robots, which are marketed as promotional tools (thus the name ), got in the way of a Tesla on a Vegas road . Promobot claimed that the Tesla "killed" its robot, but in truth it looked like a staged publicity event.

Two areas of major interest at CES '19 were the speed wars (between future 5G offerings from the wireless companies and Cable's DOCSIS standard), and smart home tech.

It will be at least two years until meaningful 5G (Fifth Generation) is available in the US. Meanwhile, Cable is touting 10G (Gigabits) as an achievable future goal in full duplex within its DOCSIS architecture. How the two modes will compete with or interact with each other in the future is a major topic of discussion, given the tens of billions Telecom and Cable invests in infrastructure.

Comcast announced a partnership with Intel to utilize a special chip that will enable faster download speeds and WiFi service. Comcast expects its first 10 Gig and WiFi 6 services will come in 2020.

Lutron was on hand to introduce its new ceiling fan control system and remote for its Caseta smarthome platform. Lutron also launched late last year an expanded 4500 squad foot 'Experience Center' in Manhattan. It has another similar center located at its headquarters in Coopersburg, PA. near Allentown.

Lutron made a significant acquisition of Ketra in 2018.

"Lutron’s deal was notable because it accelerated the lighting giant’s position in the consumer “Circadian” lighting market, where Ketra plays. It was also notable because Lutron doesn’t, as a matter of course, purchase other companies. The last big deal was the 2000 acquisition of Vimco, which propelled Lutron into the motorized shading business … in a big way. The same could happen in the wellness-lighting market with Ketra," CEPro wrote.

And Ring launched a whole new range of smart lighting at CES, which integrate with a Ring security system.

Comcast introduced its Xfinity xFi Advanced Security product at CES. It uses artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, based on a platform developed by A.I. Security company Cujo AI, to monitor and analyze Wi-Fi traffic in a smart home and automatically block suspicious activity in real time.

Other Philly companies active at CES include ROAR for Good, Amino, Medical Guardian, STRATIS , USA Technologies, and 3D TV maker Stream TV.

The latest in 8K and OLED TVs were on display. Ewing-based Universal Display is a major force behind OLED TVs, which usually employ its technology and materials.