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By Debra Kaufman

What technological advances from CES will propel the content creation industry forward in 2018?

CES 2018, owned and operated by the Consumer Technology Association, will take place Jan. 9-12 at the Las Vegas Convention Center and nearly every hotel in town. The event brings together about 170,000 “industry influencers,” from 150 countries, making it the No. 1 trade show in the U.S., as ranked by Trade Show News Network (for comparison, NAB is No. 10). The show will feature more than 800 speakers across over 200 sessions, and numerous keynotes from high-level tech and media executives.

Although CES is a consumer electronics show, it’s still relevant to those of us in the media and entertainment industry, since digital technology and new business models have blurred a few lines. For all the consumers snapping up Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets, Hollywood (and elsewhere) is home to dozens of content creators (many of them from the visual effects industry) telling VR stories for studios and brands. That’s just one example of the CES synergies, which include new TV sets, artificial intelligence and over-the-top business models.

Some people go to CES just to stay informed about the rapid technology-driven changes taking place in our world. Are you interested in autonomous vehicles? What digital is bringing to health? Do you know what a smart city might look like? CES presents the latest in all of these areas.

Entertainment and media is nonetheless a significant focus at CES, and here are some thoughts about panels and conferences of interest. One CES 2018 track, C Space, is aimed at “content creators, brand marketers, advertising agencies, creative communicators and digital publishers.” Among the speakers there will be Oath/Verizon chief executive Tim Armstrong, IBM Watson Advertising chief marketing officer Jordan Bitterman, Turner global chief communications and corporate marketing officer Molly Battin, Facebook vice president for video Fidji Simo, Verizon head of content strategy, acquisition & programming Erin McPherson, and more.

C Space, which will be located at the Aria Hotel, will feature several “Storyteller” sessions, led by high level executives from Facebook, IBM, Google, Verizon Oath, Ryot and others. In one, Google president, Americas Allan Thygesen will address “how brands can win today’s consumers with more relevant, assistive and instant experiences.” IBM’s Bitterman, Greg Pizzuti, who is IBM director of solutions for Global Media & Entertainment Industry, and David Mowrey, IBM Watson Media head of product and development will talk about the latest advances in artificial intelligence and how businesses can leverage AI for the future.

An Entertainment Summit, organized by Variety, will look at the future of television, with a panel including NBC Universal Digital Enterprises president Maggie Suniewick, YouTube chief product officer Neal Mohan, and 21st Century Fox president/COO, digital consumer group, Brian Sullivan. The so-called “headline conversation” will feature Disney ABC Television Group president Ben Sherwood. The summit has other panels of interest to the M&E industry.

Digital Hollywood also runs a conference track at CES 2018, which will focus on three trends: mobile first, which is “about contextual, programmatic and brand advertising,” augmented and virtual reality on a wide variety of platforms, from movie theaters and theme parks to smartphones and tablets; and Internet TV. There are a lot of panels diving deep into augmented reality, virtual reality, over-the-top TV, programmatic buying and cross-platform advertising, and, again, the future of television.

CTA president/chair Gary Shapiro will moderate what should be a very interesting conversation with FCC chair Ajit Pai, who just led the move to end net neutrality, and Federal Trade Commission acting chair Maureen K. Ohlhausen. Editor /host Ben Shapiro, in a conversation with United Talent Agency head of digital media Brent Weinstein, will discuss the future of news, relevant as broadcasters prepare to go over-the-top.

On the exhibit floor and in sessions in other conference tracks, CES 2018 will also be the place to catch up with what’s the latest in drones, robotics, artificial intelligence/machine learning. Another conference, on Internet of Things (IoT) platforms, will look at the future of TV sets, with input from LG Electronics and Hisense. IEEE will be there to preview its “most interesting technologies,” and another session will highlight interesting startups found on the exhibit floor in Eureka Park.

Should a media/entertainment professional attend CES? While much of the show is irrelevant to our industry on the surface, the reach of what it covers is so broad that any visitor is sure to have a few serendipitous moments, learning about technology or products that could juice up ideas about production/post. Artificial intelligence and augmented reality may not be immediately relevant in today’s production or post environment, but it’s already making inroads. It’s always a good idea to get a grasp of what’s coming down the pike.

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