Report from CES 2014-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Report from CES 2014

Photo from CES by Shishir Kinkar
Photo from CES by Shishir Kinkar

By Shishir Kinkar, CMU-SV SE-Tech 

It was the last quarter of 2010 when I first heard of an event called the Consumer Electronics Show, better known as CES. As the event kicked off in January 2011, there was a huge outpouring of tech news, happenings and product launches. The event intrigued me and I have followed it since. Fast forward to September 2013, when I noticed International CES mentioned in the college newsletter; I was immediately hooked on the idea of attending this tech carnival and explored further.

What is CES About? The International CES is an industry-focused event and is not open to the public. CES gives an excellent platform for companies and startups to showcase their products in front of a large tech crowd at just one location. Industry analysts and affiliates, personnel from various governmental agencies, staff members from several universities, marketers, distributors and even investors flock this event looking for new, hot technology. Covering all this extravaganza, and trying to get the best news out of the event is the section of tech media which includes printed or online media, blogs and magazines. Being a part of the team at TechNorms, I had the opportunity to attend the event as a member of the press. How was the experience? In one word, amazing

The Experience of Attending CES for the First Time  CES is organized in Las Vegas every year sometime within the first two weeks of January. We had the winter break at that time — the perfect chance to be at CES and not miss anything at school. The event has two sections exclusively for the media attendees other than the show itself. The first one is ‘CES Unveiled,' where a select few companies can present their products exclusively to the media before they are presented at the show. The second is the ‘Press Day,' with several companies conducting press conferences, announcing their latest products and detailing their plans for the year. These events are exclusive to the media for two days before the show floor opens and all hell breaks loose. 

Before going to the show, some of the staff members who have attended before told me that CES is overwhelming. After being at the press events for the first couple of days, I was wondering just how bad it could be when the show begins. Though I wasn't underestimating the scale of the show, I wasn't quite ready for what I witnessed right on the first day. You can only imagine the chaos that comes with 150K people descending on one location for 4 days. 

I am generally good with directions. I had memorized every location I had on my agenda, and even had a map of the place on my mobile. Yet, I was lost at least a dozen times a day. I met, discussed with or interviewed over 200 people in a couple of days. There were so many awesome keynotes planned at the event, and I could not make it to any of them. I never even reached The Venetian, or LVH or the driverless car zone. I must have walked for miles, and yet, I don't think I even saw more than 30% of the event. You can now imagine how gigantic the event is! 

I was extremely excited and enjoyed every moment there. If you are not someone who is interested in tech, you might be wondering about the point of attending CES. Yes, it is the biggest gadget and gear carnival of the year, but there is more to it than that. 

It's Not Just About the Tech — I am a software enthusiast and a hobbyist blogger. I love to be in the know of the latest tech and gadgets out there. It is the dynamism of these fields (both software and media) that drives me towards them. I know that this was the first time I attended CES, and the impressions that I have might be incorrect. If you ask me, CES is an event where the best of both tech and media worlds come together. It is not every day that every other person you meet is a CEO, CTO or a VP. CES makes this possible, and that makes it one of the best places to be if you are interested even remotely in either of these areas. 

Would I go to CES Again? I met a gentleman who was attending his 40th CES. As soon as I recovered from the awe of hearing that, I asked him about his opinion about the show. He said he dreads the show - the show is just too big to cover! I understand what he means. Perhaps I would also dread the show a few years down the line. But for now, Yes, I am going to CES again, if possible, every year. One lesson I've learnt is that you pretty much can't get anything done if you go there alone. Next time, we plan to go as a team. Having experienced the event once, I only hope that we would be better prepared for CES 2015.