The FGRT team is attending Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Below, we provide our takeaways from Day 3 of the event:
- New Retail represents the next generation of consumer experiences and involves providing the best customer service, 24/7, no matter where the customer is, and delivering the product to the customer anywhere, at any time.
- Alibaba demonstrated several services and platforms—as well as some products—at its booth.
- Smart sleep devices have a significant presence at CES, and Nokia released a sleep-tracking mattress pad.
- Target is collaborating with Indiegogo on “Target Open House,” a monthly open house at its San Francisco store, where 16 technology startups will sell their smart products.
- Israeli startups were largely focused on image processing- and artificial intelligence (AI)-related solutions this year.
1) New Retail Represents the Next Generation of Consumer Experiences, Providing the Best Customer Service, 24/7, No Matter Where the Customer Is and Delivering Products to the Customer Anywhere, at any Time
FGRT Managing Director Deborah Weinswig gave a presentation titled, “New Retail Becoming a Reality.” China leads the world in terms of comps and is at the vanguard of what Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma has coined New Retail. Alibaba has become the catalyst for New Retail via acquisitions, and several US retailers have also embraced the concept via acquisitions and from online stores going offline.
New inspirations for retail include the deployment of AI and future store models that are completely automated, such as BingoBox and Tao Cafe in China. At the same time, China has become a cashless society, with stores and even panhandlers accepting electronic payments. Alibaba’s Hema store seamlessly integrates online and offline, and consumers can shop, order groceries for home delivery and eat in-store, all via the Hema app. Platformization means retailers using their spaces as a hub for one-stop shopping and a variety of services.
Technology can be used to power experiential shopping, and reality technology makes shopping more fun. Retail is all about experience in China. Finally, AI offers personalization and higher conversion rates, and can be used to create seamless experiences and power robotics.
2) Alibaba Demonstrated Several Services and Platforms—as well as Some Products—at Its Booth
Although Alibaba is considered primarily an online marketplace, the company demonstrated several platforms and services at its booth this year, including:
- Dingtalk: This is an enterprise communications platform that enables teleconferencing, presentation viewing, plus other services for small and medium-sized enterprises such as visitor logging (using facial recognition), electronic employee timecards and human resources (HR) functions such as attendance and vacation tracking.
- City Brain: This is a citywide traffic control system than runs on Alibaba’s cloud network AliCloud, which is already in four Chinese cities. ET Industrial Brain performs manufacturing quality control using machine vision and AI, and ET Medical Brain was designed for healthcare.
- Tmall Genie: This represents Alibaba’s entry into the intelligent home speaker game. The device is able to understand voice commands (only in Mandarin at present) and can answer questions and control home appliances.
- Ant Financial: A subsidiary of Alibaba, Ant Financial demonstrated package lockers and cashless retail appliances that used facial recognition, and could be activated with a smile.
3) Smart Sleep Devices Have a Significant Presence at CES, and Nokia Released a Sleep-Tracking Mattress Pad
CES 2018 marked the second year there was a section dedicated to sleep technology and devices. Last year’s sleep solutions were vastly focused on sleep monitoring, while this year, more companies are taking the next step in trying to affect and transform users’ sleeping habits. Sleep devices in the form of headsets, mattress pads and wearables were all on display.
Nokia: The company introduced a new product, the Nokia Sleep mattress pad, which has an “advanced” sensor to monitor sleep cycles as well as control the lights and thermostats in the user’s room. The Wi-Fi-enabled sleep-tracking pad offers sleep cycle analysis with light, deep and rapid-eye-movement phases. The pad syncs with Nokia’s Health Mate app and provides sleep scores, personalized advice and coaching programs. Nokia partnered with Amazon to include support for the Alexa voice assistant to the Health Mate app. The sleep-tracking mattress pad will start shipping in the first quarter of this year with a price tag of $99.95.
Somnox: Dutch robotics startup Somnox showcased the world’s first sleep robot, a soft, bean-shaped robot that vibrates as if it has a heart rate and plays white noise to put the user to sleep. The company highlighted that sleep quality is a key factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and sleep deficiency is associated with health risks such as high blood pressure and heart disease. While there are plenty of products to track sleep, the technologies that actually seek to improve sleep patterns are becoming more advanced.
4) Target Is Collaborating with Indiegogo on “Target Open House,” a Monthly Open House at Its San Francisco Store, Where 16 Technology Startups Sell Their Smart Products
At the panel presentation “Pathways to Retail,” Gene Han, Vice President, Consumer IoT at Target, said that the company is engaging with the startup community. Through a collaboration with crowdfunding company, Indiegogo, Target has created “Target Open House”—a monthly open house held in an area of Target’s San Francisco Internet of Things (IoT)-focused store called “The Garage”—where 16 technology startups sell their smart products.
Han said that Target Open House is working with entrepreneurs because the company wants to bring the most innovative products to its customers. By utilizing The Garage, the startups are able to receive real, valuable customer feedback about the product features that they like, and those they do not like. The startups learn about prototyping, having products market-ready and potentially, scaling to Target. Additionally, Han said that this real-time consumer feedback has benefited Target because it is helping the company to understand the smart product categories that are receiving the most interest and may be trending upward. This feedback is being used at Target to help inform decisions.
5) Israeli Startups Were Largely Focused On Image Processing- and AI-Related Solutions this Year
We met several innovative startups in the Eureka Park section of the convention center, including:
- 2sens: Uses the smartphone to enrich video with 3G content.
- Arbe Robotics: Provides high-resolution, high-dynamic range radar for autonomous vehicles.
- ByondVR: Offers an end-to-end set of solutions for intuitive augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and content management systems (CMS).
- Clinch: Creates dynamic creative video to animate audio and video ad campaigns.
- Fuse.it: Is a fused reality (FR) platform that fuses video and user-generated content for millennials.
- ICI Vision: Created a vision-enhancement device for the vision impaired.
- Lishtot: Makes consumer electronics devices that can test drinking water for contamination.
- MySize: Uses a smartphone for measurement and apparel sizing.
- Syte.ai: Combines object recognition, AI and machine learning for apparel identification and matching.