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We’re All Technology Companies Now

2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2017 has gathered an estimated 180,000 visitors in Las Vegas, Nev., for a 5-day festival where manufacturers will unveil some 20,000 new products, from the highly technical to the downright weird (and most of them with the word "Smart" in the title). Photograph by Andrej Sokolow—picture-alliance/dpa/AP

Good morning.

It’s not easy to grasp the dimensions of the gadget-palooza taking place in Las Vegas this week. CES started fifty years ago for the benefit of buyers and sellers of televisions and pocket radios. Today, it’s a five-day affair hosting 180,000 people and displaying tens of thousands of new products in 43 football fields’ worth of convention space.

I spent a couple of hours wandering through the morass yesterday, looking at products that ranged from a self-cleaning cat litter box to an indoor wall that grows lettuce under LED lights. There are “smart” products of all kinds – including smart toothbrushes, smart hairbrushes, smart mattresses, smart breast pumps. You can see some of our favorite new products here.

A few takeaways:

First, Amazon’s voice-controlled virtual assistant, Alexa, has established the early lead in becoming the operating system for the smart home. While Google, Apple and Lenovo all offer competing services, it’s the silver-throated Alexa who has convinced the most third-party vendors to develop clever new products in synch with it.

For more on the 2017 CES, watch this:

 

Second, sleep is becoming big business. ResMed was pushing a sleep sensor, which monitors your sleep patterns from your bedside. And a company called NuCalm had conference attendees stretched out in lounge chairs, after first giving them a “proprietary formulation of amino acids,” hooking up “neuropatches” that provide a “sub-sensory microcurrent,” and giving them an eye mask and headphones that “modulate brain wave function between Alpha and Theta frequencies – where healing, recovery, and restoration occur naturally.” I was sorely tempted to join the slumbering crowd, but all chairs were taken.

Finally, CES has become the ultimate proof of a point I’ve made here before: tech is no longer an industry, it is a strategic piece of every industry. For auto executives, CES has become as important as the auto shows. Our Brainstorm Tech dinner Wednesday night even included a top executive from the insurance industry — Allstate CEO Tom Wilson — and one from the fashion industry — Ralph Lauren Vice Chairman David Lauren. To anyone in Vegas this week, it’s clear: We are all technology companies now.