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Engineers Feeling The Love At CES 2016

As a member of the media, no matter how many times I have attended and covered CES, there are always more than a few technologies and trends that grab the spotlight.

This year virtual reality, drones, IoT, wearables and Ultra 4K (TVs, cameras and the potential of Blu-ray players) are being highlighted, but I have a candidate that is not a product or technology, but has everything to do with both: engineers.

Engineers? Since when do companies attending CES brag about how many engineers they have working on their projects? Maybe because CES represents a broader pallet of technology than ever before? Or that most of them are going to tackle the newest trend in technology — IoT?

Whatever the reason, I noticed this first during the Bosch press event Tuesday when CEO Dr. Volkmar Denner mentioned the company employs 55,000 engineers worldwide “and one-third of them have an IoT focus.” But he’s an engineer by trade, so I didn’t think it was unusual.

I’m pretty sure at the Samsung press conference I heard the company has 20,000 engineers dedicated to IoT and related technologies worldwide.

IBM president, CEO and chairman Ginni Rometty said in her keynote that the Watson Cloud platform is now in “36 countries, with 80,000 programmers” helping to create 500 businesses.

And it isn’t just IoT. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said at his keynote that the company has 1,000 engineers working on 4K and High Dynamic Range programming.

No matter the reason for the attention, it still sounds unusual in a city built on glitz and glamour and at a show that in the recent past featured cameo appearances by top Hollywood, TV and recording industry that engineers would be mentioned so often here this week.

Are companies trying to push the fact that they are very serious about these new, intelligent, web-based technologies and services, by having their speechwriters equating the quantity of the engineers they have with the quality of their products and/or services?

That last point can be debated for another time. Suffice it to say that it is refreshing that the people who create the magic of technology — devices and online services — the under-appreciated engineers, are finally getting love, or at least a little attention, from the industry they have helped create.

Steve Smith was the longtime editor in chief of TWICE and is now its editor at large.

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