One of the benefits from being a blogger and writer is opportunities to attend media events and look at products sooner than perhaps others get to. One prime example of this is the Consumer Electronics Show that is going on this week. CES, as it likes to be called, is one of the biggest trade shows and occupies almost all of Las Vegas for the better part of a week. It boasts 4500 exhibitors and some 185,000 attendees. So it can be kind of daunting.
I’ve been coming now for several years and one reason I like it is that it’s outside the LegalTech realm. Different ways of thinking and talking about tech from legal that is refreshing and thought provoking.
Also, I was lucky enough the past several years to be awarded a media pass which gives me access to a couple of days of news conferences and attendance at CES Unveiled which is a chance to see some of the best exhibitors in a less crowded, less formal atmosphere.
Last night I wondered though this year’s Unveiled; even with the fewer number of exhibitors than in the general exhibition hall, my head was soon spinning. Two exhibits stood out though: one touching on the intersection of law, privacy and insurance and the other was just plan practical and interesting.
First for the practical and interesting. I bumped into Josh Wright almost by accident as we made small talk at one of the booths. Josh is the cofounder and chief designer of a company called Catalyst which makes waterproof cases for Apple products. He asked me if I owned a pair Apple AirPods. I do. He asked me what I thought of them: I told him I liked them but one of my concerns was they’re slippery and might slide out of my hands at a bad time and either break or be soaked. At $159 per pair, that’s not an idle issue.
Josh produced a small rubbery like case out of his pocket which comfortably houses the AirPods and makes them easier to hold and less slippery. It also protects them from water damage if they take a swim. Josh proceeded to tell me his company, Catalyst, makes this case which sales for $29 along with a similar cases for iPhones and even Apple Watches. I’m not so sure about the watch and phone versions (the watch case frankly detracts a bit from the sleek aesthetics of the watch and there are plenty of waterproof phone cases). But the AirPods case looks like and is a nice practical product that actually enhances the look of the AirPods and fits comfortable in your pocket.
I had to go to the Apple store later to get a watch cable I forgot to pack and tried to buy a set: no luck. The Apple rep told me they were sold out and were very popular: he liked them too. Josh is clearly on to something.
On the more serious side: as I was walking through Unveiled a LexisNexis logo caught my eye. I’m so used to seeing this logo at legal tech conferences that at first it didn’t even register. But here was LexisNexis demoing a product at CES.
What was it? A program from the LexisNexis Risk Solutions Division which among other things, collects data about your driving and with permission will forward that data to your insurance carrier in exchange, hopefully, for a better auto insurance premium.
Since I had written a post about just this subject and the debate which this raises about about privacy, insurance and big data, (a debate I witnessed firsthand at the Advisen Cybersecurity conference in October 2018), I was surprised that this type of data analytics had actually come to pass so soon. I wondered in October whether people would ultimately be willing to trade privacy for reduced premium (or depending on how you drove, increased premium.) Obviously LexisNexis wondered the same thing and believes people will do so.
I could go on about the bread baking robot, skin analysis programs, self cleaning cat liter boxes and the like which I saw and played with at Unveiled but all these represent the essence of CES- a mix of the practical , the crazy and those products that raise serious issues about the role of technology will have and perhaps we want it to have in our lives. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I find CES to be so much fun.