At CES, Brands Will Be Seeking Out Technologies, and Vice Versa
The latest advances in smart/connected home, wearable and health and wellness technologies will mix more standard-issue TVs, audio, smartphones and computer products at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next week.
The more predictable product offerings – flat-screen 8K TVs promising a doubling of the current highest picture resolution and the heralding of the next-generation 5G wireless networks – will be interspersed with companies and even federal agencies seeking start-ups and inventors developing new technologies and products, some of which could potentially morph into licensing opportunities.
For example, the U.S. Postal Service, Proctor & Gamble (P&G) and John Deere — not necessarily known for being on the cutting edge of technology — have taken booth space, the latter two for the first time.
Deere launched its Startup Collaboration late last year to foster connections with fledgling companies creating technologies in agribusiness, including its first two members – Bear Flag Robotics (self-driving tractor technology) and Hello Tractor (an app that helps farmers manage tractor fleets).
For its part, Proctor & Gamble through its P&G Ventures arm last fall launched an Innovation Challenge that promised winning entrants an expenses-paid trip to CES to pitch potential investors/partners on the P&G Stage. The focus for P&G in Las Vegas is on its Olay brand, but also technologies for treating chronic skin conditions and symptoms, managing pain and improving sleep.
In the case of the U.S. Postal Service, whose licensing is managed by Global Icons and is taking booth space for a second year, the interest is in wireless technologies and means for notifying customers of package deliveries and other services. Could this be a candidate?: Mini-refrigerator supplier Danby is taking the wraps off a non-licensed galvanized steel parcel mailbox at CES designed to house deliveries of online purchases. The three-foot high mailbox has a combination lock.
Among the categories that will be a focus at CES for licensing.
- Connected Home/home security. With homes getting smarter and more efficient driven by smartphones and tablets connecting with and operating security systems, lighting, appliances, entertainment systems, thermostats and window coverings, brands are playing in increasingly larger role.
Mace Security International well-known for its pepper spray, is licensing its brand for the first time. The company is seeking deals for home security, alarms and apparel – think hoodies with built-in pepper spray dispensers that can activated with a button or app, says Global Icons’ Jeff Lotman, whose firm is representing Mace. And Kodak licensee eBuyNow is launching baby monitors and security cameras, renewing the brand’s push in the connected home/home security category.
Meanwhile, Jem Accessories (Energizer) and Voxx International (RCA) are continuing to expand their lines of security cameras, motion sensors and other connected home items, while Jasco (Energizer) extends its line of lighting products.
The connected home will further grow with Amazon (Alexa) and Google (Google Assistant) expected to unveil new advances in voice technologies that will further tie together products in the home.
- Health and Wellness. With a dedicated section at the Sands Convention Center, the category will have a broad cross-section of technologies including wearables, diagnostic solutions, monitoring and fitness products. Exhibitors will range from stationary bicycle and treadmill system supplier Peloton to Fossil (smartwatches with fitness trackers) and Philips (health systems) and organizations like the Red Cross, which is seeking (via Seltzer Licensing Group) licensees for blood pressure and heart rate monitors. Apparel supplier Bioworld’s One61 Studio also has taken space at the Sands as it continues to expand its line of licensed smart watches (with heart rate monitoring and other fitness functions) that debuted last year with characters such as The Flash, Batman and Wonder Woman versions.
- eSports. While the eSports leagues and games themselves may not be front and center at CES, their presence will be felt. Beanstalk’s Tinderbox Division will be scouting CES for potential North American licensees for the online gaming league and eSports broadcaster ESL (formerly known as the Electronic Sports League), which has operated and broadcast tournaments and leagues on Twitch for Valve Corp.’s “Dota-2” and “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.” Adding to the presence of eSports at CES will be several panels including “eSports: The New Playground for Marketers” that will detail how brands are approaching the Esports business.
- Self-driving and electric car technologies will be in abundance at CES, but in-car entertainment also will take center stage. Audi and Disney have been developing an in-car entertainment system for the past 19 months and are expected to reveal details at CES. The partnership is expected to draw heavily on the Disney film catalog with the potential for virtual reality (VR) technology to add to rear-seat platform in Audi’s electric car.