Celebrity CEOs, Stars Spotlight CES New Tech

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LAS VEGAS — The 2014 International CES keynoter lineup was packed with celebrity CEOs and entertainment celebrities who delivered overviews about the future of consumer technology, sprinkled with pitches about their own companies’ upcoming wares.

Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel; Rupert Stadler, chairman of Audi AG; Kazuo Hirai, president/CEO of Sony; Marissa Mayer, CEO/president of Yahoo; MakerBot’s CEO Bre Pettis; and John Chambers, chairman/CEO of Cisco, certainly did not disappoint in their razzledazzle presentations about what’s important now and where we are going in technology.

But it was the “host” of CES, Gary Shapiro, president/ CEO of the show’s producer and owner, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), who set the tone for the show in his opening morning keynote by saying, “We are at the forefront of a momentous wave of innovation. The incredible growth that emerging product categories such as Ultra HD TV, wearable electronics and 3D printers will experience this year underscores the significant role new technologies play in the total consumer electronics story.” (See CES’s projected 2014 sales for the CE industry, which Shapiro discussed in his keynote.)

Actually, the Intel and Audi execs were the first two keynoters at CES, making their presentations the evening before CES officially opened: the former with traditional nuts-andbolts presentation and the latter with more glitz.

Intel’s Krzanich said the chipmaker is focusing on wearable devices that are smart. He introduced Jarvis, an earpiece that acts as a personal assistant and works in a similar way to Apple’s Siri. He also showed smart ear buds that can charge off of an attached phone and keep track of various fitness activities, and Nursery 2.0, built into an infant’s pajamas that can send messages to parents if the child is too cold, too warm or has awoken.

Audi’s Stadler used Kunal Nayyar of TV’s “The Big Bang Theory” – as well as Shapiro – to introduce pilotless driving and discuss how the car maker is closing the gap between CE and the automobile.

Sony’s Hirai brought along Vince Gilligan, creator of the smash-hit TV series “Breaking Bad,” and Michael Lynton, chairman/CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, to illustrate how Sony is getting its “wow” factor back.

Hirai highlighted Sony’s Cloud-based TV service that will debut in the U.S. this year, which combines TV, video-on-demand and DVR capabilities for TVs and mobile devices. Hirai also highlighted Sony’s CES introductions: soup-to-nuts 4K Ultra HD TVs and camcorders, high-res audio, more cameras, the PlayStation 4 and the Xperia Z1 smartphone.

Yahoo’s Mayer was joined by new employees/ contributors Katie Couric and David Pogue, as well as John Legend and members of the “Saturday Night Live” cast, to present her keynote.

Mayer’s main theme was the importance of mobile, and she discussed the company’s new acquisition, Avitate, which is in beta testing. The technology automatically categorizes Android apps and uses location and contextual data from the device to suggest activities.

MakerBot’s Pettis brought 3D printing, and his new line of printers, front and center to industry, political and entertainment execs during his Leaders In Technology Dinner keynote. He ran through three of the company’s CES introductions for consumers, prosumers and industrial customers, and outlined the importance of the category in coming years.

Cisco’s Chambers had comedian Sarah Silverman as his accomplice to pitch the concept of “the Internet of Things,” which conceivably means connecting every everyday device – from lighting systems to garbage cans – which would measure usage and conceivably save energy, natural resources and money.

But it took CEA’s Shapiro to explain what it feels like to see and hear about all this new technology in one week at one place, using a Hollywood reference no less: “When [CES] officially starts, to me it’s like that moment in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ where Dorothy leaves behind a grim, black-and-white world and opens the door to a full-color multidimensional experience.” — Additional reporting by David Elrich, Doug Olenick, Peter Suciu and Stewart Wolpin from coverage in the Official Daily of CES, published by TWICE


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