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Technically human: CES 2018 examines relationships between people, brands, and technology

Interbrand landed at CES to to analyze the trends that will further the relationships between people, brands, and technology in 2018. The elegant, relevant—and sometimes surprising—integration of technology into both the brand experience and customer/user experience became the prevailing theme.


Despite wet weather, brands made a significant first impression on the conference floor. One of the biggest attention grabbers was Polaroid, which showed up fresh and ready for generation NOW—a challenge for many analog natives. Touting new low-cost cameras and Zink inkless printers that simply snap onto phones, Polaroid proved its ability to get with the technological times without sacrificing its core identity.

Google revealed itself as a fast follower at the show, taking a page from Alexa. Google Assistant made its presence felt throughout the ancillary experiences—like the monorail to and from the convention center.

Samsung also created a signature spectacle with a massive and comprehensive display. The most outstanding aspect were 3D projections mapped onto a white cityscape that tracked human behavior, followed sunrise and sunset, and traced traffic patterns. The demonstrations showed Samsung’s leadership in the development of smart cities, as well as its impressive 3D projection capabilities.


Wednesday’s outdoor exhibitions  made up for Tuesday’s washout. Chief among them: The BMW experience.

BMW Race Track

BMW let people compare real and virtual driving with by doing high-speed donuts on a drift course then jumping into a simulator to maneuver a VR race car around the track. People were drawn from all over the convention by the sound of squealing tires, but they also flocked for BMW’s panel. Professional racer John Edwards, Chris Kinman of GoPro, and Kazunori Yamauchi, creator of the PlayStation Gran Turismo video game series, talked about the merits of real versus virtual driving, and applications for extending the real-world experience.

Google’s gallery revealed its ever-expanding ecosystem, showcasing the brand’s foray into all aspects of our lives—including the first Google Assistant-equipped car. It also partnered with Target to create a game in which asking Google Assistant questions could win you a stuffed Target Bullseye or a new Google Home Mini.

Completing the carnival vibe, Amazon’s Treasure Truck was on the lot, supplying the spoils of a skeeball competition. Music was pumped through the OneLink smart speaker, which doubles as a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm and is powered by Amazon Alexa—a light-hearted demonstration of how ultra-connected technologies can serve multiple functions at once, and bring the brand into many facets of our lives.


Friday was all about exploring the intersection between human and digital capabilities, in some unique and thought-provoking ways.

Kodak revealed itself as a brand that’s toeing the line between its heritage and what the future holds for all categories. The film pioneer put some of its cult products on display (like Tri-X), alongside cutting-edge technologies like 3D printers, 3D body scanners, and POP cameras. It also announced the launch of a blockchain-based cryptocurrency called “KodakCoin,” designed to protect and enforce ownership rights on the web.

The army of adorable robots at the show gave the future of automation a friendly face. Jibo, billed as “the first personal robot for the home,” also proved the first that can twerk. Luka, the whimsical owl-bot by Ling, teaches children how to read, while state-of-the-art plush duck Aflac comforts kids with cancer, and Sony’s upgraded Aibo dog proves the most realistic robo-pet yet.

Netflix showed us the more unsettling side of the convergence of humanoid technologies with its #Psychasec biotech booth, designed to promote an upcoming series. The installation tested the concept of taking “New You” to new levels with “buyable” bodies delivered in a bag—an eerily realistic guerilla activation that made us think…


Is the singularity here? How will artificial intelligence and biotechnology shape our analog experiences? How do businesses integrate and brand technology that continues to gain its own agency?

These are the questions we’ll be asking and answering as the year unfolds, while exploring what they mean for brands and businesses.


Executive Director, Verbal Identity
Senior Creative Director
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