CES 2018 and the Top Trends for PR Pros

February 1, 2018

Every year, tens of thousands of people arrive in Las Vegas in early January to experience what technology will look like in the coming year.

As an industry analyst, I get to attend the CES trade show (formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show) and, each year, the amount of innovation that I see on the show floor (and off) never ceases to amaze me. While the show’s headlines used to be all about the latest TVs, cameras and computers, the outlook for 2018 is one of a connected, intelligent and immersive future.

As a futurist working in the virtual reality and augmented reality industry, I get to try amazing things before many others do. CES is a special time, when I get a chance to meet with stealth startups for private demos of the tech they are working on before it comes to market. As an insider of what’s coming for consumer electronics in the future, here are my Top-4 favorite trends from CES 2018.

Connected everything

We often see headlines that talk about the connected home and how consumers are purchasing more Google Homes and Alexas. At CES, it was not only about the connected home, it was about the connected everything. Ranging from connected canes, to connected smart toothbrushes and hairbrushes, connected devices and wearables could be seen at every turn.

This shouldn’t really come as a surprise, though. According to Intel, our IoT (internet of things) world is growing at a breathtaking pace, from 2 billion objects in 2006 to a projected 200 billion by 2020.

China’s innovation — full steam ahead

Ladies and gentlemen, the train has left the station. It actually left several years back, but I was impressed by the increase in Chinese exhibitors and the level of innovation coming from China. It’s not only Chinese giants like Huawei or Baidu; it’s also medium-sized corporations and even startups that view CES as their launchpad into Western markets.

A company called Insta 360 is proof of this. They make 360-degree cameras for consumers and also professionals. I met them at CES 2017 and I was impressed by how much they had grown in a year, even winning a 2018 CES Innovation Award.

AR and VR across the board

Today, we carry our mobile phones in our pockets but, in the future, we will wear stylish glasses that will contextualize our reality. While we’re still more than five years away from getting to Ray-Ban-style augmented reality glasses, the concept persists on the show floor.

Major CEOs mentioned AR during their keynotes and virtual reality also reigned supreme with many types of mobile and tethered headsets being shown in the exhibit hall. The VR industry has staked its claim and has grown in importance every year, with even more space dedicated to exhibitors in 2018. The hardware is the main attraction but content, and access to content, was also a big part of the conversation.


What would CES be this year without all the talk surrounding driverless cars and trucks. Self-driving cars were so relevant to the show that there was a whole area set aside for them, aptly named the Self-Driving Tech Marketplace. Automakers like Ford, GM and Toyota, among others, showcased their latest technology that made any car aficionado excited about a driverless future.

CES truly is a global stage for innovation attracting the world’s top business leaders and tech pioneers. PR professionals — especially those who work in tech or one of the industries impacted by the rapid pace of technology (which is almost every industry under the sun) — should be paying attention to the trends that stem from CES.

As technology evolves, so will our jobs. And knowing what’s coming down the line and how our clients or the brands we represent can benefit from them, or how these affect them, will only make us better at our jobs.

Cathy Hackl, APR

Cathy Hackl, APR, created the holographic press release and is a leading voice in augmented reality and virtual reality. A futurist and well-known speaker, she is co-author of “Marketing New Realities,” the only book on augmented reality and virtual reality for marketing. Hackl joined Atlanta-based You Are Here Labs in 2018, where she leads agencies, brands and companies in applying futuristic technologies.



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