My first time at CES

(originally written in Jan 2016)

Geeks around the world all share a few distinct memories of firsts: the first time we watched Star Wars, the first time we typed “hello world”, and our first time attending the largest tech convention in the world, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Last week, I attended this crazy conference for the first time. I was there in support of my company, but it was also an unforgettable personal experience. In celebration of my first CES (and first blog post:), I wanted to share some of my top realizations from the week.

The future is here and it’s beautiful:

The human mind is expanding rapidly and technology is growing with it. Although I work in tech and am surrounded by smart people and exciting VR software/hardware every day, I sometimes forget about what others are up to. CES was an excellent reminder that most industries are continuing to pump out technology that feels like it comes from a sci-fi novel. From the perfectly crisp 4K screens to the self driving robots to the serious game of drones, my mind was constantly being blown.

2016 really is the year of VR:

Working in the VR industry I’m constantly hearing phrases such as “the wave of VR” and “the year of VR”. Oculus basically had their own building inside South Hall, with a line wrapped around the block. A big highlight for me was trying the HTC Vive Pre. They’ve made a ton of improvements on the wireless capabilities, the hardware design and of course the front-facing camera that allows you to see and interact with the physical world while still immersed. We got our hands on one and I can’t wait to play with it in the office. From 360 degree capture technologies to the Samsung’s VR roller coaster exhibit, to the 15+ new head-mounted-display companies, virtual reality definitely played a huge part of CES 2016 and will continue for the next few years. However, there still is a lot of badly done VR out there. I was amazed at how many demos I was given where someone just threw a Samsung gear at me with no explanation of what I was even seeing. I would put on the headset to find a not so graphically pleasing game or demo. Content will definitely continue to be king in this industry.

Nerds like to have fun too:

Coming from UCSB I already knew this but CES was a friendly reminder that most people are just trying to have a good time. My coworker referred to CES as “The Coachella for geeks” and he was absolutely right. We spent almost as much time dancing at after parties and making new friends as we did on the trade show floor. However, CES is much more than just a crowd of tech geeks. It is filled with successful C-level executives from Fortune 500 companies evaluating partners, as well as managers of multi-million dollar hedge-funds searching for their next big investment. And a lot of these men and women (but lets face it- mostly men) might be found later in the evening at a table in the club with a drink in hand. One of my favorite moments of the week, was when I was at an after party at Hakkassan (Lil Jon was the DJ- because that’s a thing now) and looked to my left to see a 60ish year old exec from Amazon literally shaking it like there was no tomorrow.

I have so much to learn:

Perhaps the biggest thing I realized, is that I have so much to learn about all of this emerging tech. This show left my body exhausted but my mind energized and buzzing with new ideas. For those of us with curious minds, CES will likely result in lost sleep for the first few months of the year.

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