Putting the “P” in CES

[Editor’s Note: Some of the footage shown in the above video is from Pepcom’s Digital Experience!, a pre-CES event open exclusively to the press.]

International CES used to be known as the Consumer Electronics Show, but in many ways it is appropriate that the CEA removed the term “Consumer” from the name. Sure, there are the latest gadgets that one associates with consuming; a few of these will see shiny success, while most will fall into the deep dark aisle of the retail store.

But, at its best, CES is about making people’s lives better. Warick Stirling said it well when he suggested that Whirlpool’s job is to help people remove clutter. Put in that context, a Bluetooth enabled refrigerator that has a built-in speaker starts to make sense.

Building on the theme from last year’s summary video, the idea of enhancing our abilities through electronics was seen at many of the booths. Whether using our mind to control things or pointing a device at a picture to enhance our knowledge, the technology is giving us super human powers one could only imagine a short time ago.

How we use those powers and whether it will help our bodies or help them atrophy is the big question. To this last point, there were many developments on display in the digital health space that will encourage us to be active. The common theme of these developments is the collection of data with almost no effort from the human. An example is this stylish wrist band from a company called Fitbit that records things such as steps per day, calories burned and a host of other data points.

It is the app world that is beginning to transform this big data into actions that offer to transform lifestyle and, perhaps, remove some of the friction inherent in delivering cost-effective health care.

And these apps aren’t just helping health, one company has figured out a clever way to reuse the purported 50 million iPhones and iTouches and iPads that become obsolete every year. This obvious idea promises to disrupt the market for home control and monitoring, just as this service is about is to take-off.

While from the other side, the appliance manufacturers have the potential to make a big impact on home monitoring and control, as one manufacturer hinted that WiFi enabled appliances are just around the corner or should I say quarter.

This show is so big, that it is easy to have expectations of big announcements that will immediately transform society. What excites me, however, are the incremental developments that offer the potential to improve the quality of life and make for a better world; instead of the “C” standing for consumer, perhaps the focus should be on “P” for people.

Perhaps the show should be called the People Electronics Show, as the devices that really matter are those that improve the quality of life and help people live more fulfilling lives. Those devices were at this show, so stay tuned over the coming weeks as we release interviews and overviews of some of the cool things we saw at CES 2013.