Unexpected Innovation at CES 2015

By Britton Thomas, January 13, 2015

Virtually every booth at CES is innovative, but not all of them are inviting. With that in mind, Intel set out to make the most welcoming booth imaginable. The tech giant’s spacey setup gave visitors some much-appreciated breathing room, and its pillow-esque carpet made attendees feel like they were walking on—instead of storing data in—a cloud. While the booth was the topic of many tweets and conversations, Intel made its biggest impression with a social statement.

The computer chip and processor company pledged to commit $300 million to promote diversity in the uber white, majority male tech sector. Every keynote speaker at CES was male. In 2013, Intel reported that of its 108,000 employees, 76 percent were men, and a meager 12% of employees were identified as either African-American or Hispanic. Gamergate, a controversy spurred by rampant misogyny during online gaming, was also a widely discussed topic at CES, which made Intel’s investment to promote inclusion even more pertinent and impactful.

You’d think the United States Postal Service showing up at CES would be like a Model T puttering around a NASCAR track. But USPS turned some heads with a sleek booth and an emphasis on augmented reality (something we’ve been a fan of for a while). The idea is that engaging with your constituents through both traditional and new media can be an effective way to engage and market. So if you send a postcard or parcel to your attendees in the mail, they can scan it using an app, and it’ll direct them to a website, a video or a personal greeting from you. But fear not, Luddites. USPS hasn’t completely forgotten its roots. The booth’s display was appropriately boxy.

In recent years, it seemed as though Microsoft had turned its back on the nerds of CES in favor of the jocks of the NFL. In 2013, Microsoft disappeared from CES and paid the National Football League $400 million to make its Surface “the official tablet of the NFL.” The company was absent from CES again in 2014, and it looked like Microsoft was officially in with the cool kids (even if they did have to bribe them to hang out). But it turns out Microsoft hasn’t completely turned its back on its counterparts. The company returned to CES in 2015 to promote the Surface, and it brought along the charging station built specifically for NFL sidelines. Reviews for the Surface were generally positive and its visibility is increasing, so don’t cater all of your online content to iPads. Your attendees might be calling an audible for the Surface tablet soon.


(Photo credit: AP/John Locher)

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