Film's Edge by Casey Flores
by Casey Flores
January 13th, 2016

There’s No Place Like CES

It’s a trade show unlike any in the world. Every year, nearly 200,000 people descend on Las Vegas to attend CES (formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show). It fills multiple convention centers and, if you’re lucky, your hotel, food and Uber ride will only cost 4.1 times what it usually does.

What Is CES?

CES could just as easily stand for Cutting-Edge Show. Much of what you’ll see here is so new that it won’t be going to market for several years. Exhibitors here span every industry imaginable—from virtual reality and fitness technology to smart automobiles and homes.

While aimed at consumers, the latest technology will always have an impact on business owners in relevant industries. That’s why I’m here this year. What technological advancements affect the greater glass industry?

Automotive Advancements

Given that the average person spends nearly one year of his or her life in a car, much effort has gone into improving the overall automotive experience. From cars that drive themselves to windows that tint themselves, automobiles are becoming ever more automatic.

We spoke with project managers from two major car manufacturers: Kia and BMW. Kia has been working on autonomous vehicles, and as far as the glass in these vehicles go, not much thought has been put into what happens to the sensors if that glass breaks. “We don’t really have a plan for that,” the representative said.

BMW was a different story. Though not showing off driverless cars, the company had advanced camera systems (in lieu of rear-view mirrors) in its vehicles that would see past a crack in the glass, said project director Phillip Hoffman. The technology will also struggle to work with tinted glass. Hoffman said film installers will have to cut out a circle where the camera sees out so that it can work in low-light situations.

There were also smartphone head-up displays, solar-powered glass roofs and other products.

Taking It Home

Smart homes had their own section, and while the majority of the exhibitors showed off the latest in camera security system technology, window technology and door security played a small but important role in home innovation.

Representatives from Andersen Windows and Doors came to the show with their VeriLock Sensors, which got CES Innovation Award honorable mention.

“These sensors not only tell you if a window or patio door is open, but also if it’s unlocked,” the product brochure reads. “No other sensors can do that.”

One representative told us that tests showed the importance of this when it comes to saving energy. “A locked window can be three times more efficient,” she said.

There were no shortage of smart locks, as well. Probably the coolest part of this segment for me was how well this technology could work for Airbnb, the sharing-economy app that allows you to rent out your home to app users. With these smart locks, invitations can be sent to people who will be able to unlock your door. When their stay is up, that user will no longer be able to enter the house with the smart lock application. Schlage, Lockitron, Unikey and many others were leading providers of this technology.

Better Buildings

Corning had conceptual products on display as well. The company had a fully interactive glass wall that could be used for commercial and residential purposes as an entertainment and presentation system, while its touchscreen could control things like ambient music or the room’s temperature.

For What It’s Worth

In most blogs, I make the case for attending the show I’m covering. If you can handle the city-wide price increases that come from it being the largest trade show in the U.S., the trip can be more than worth it, especially for the entrepreneurial type. Some of the event’s largest exhibitors were just an idea a few years ago. In the startup section, located in the Sands, seeing hundreds of tech entrepreneurs, many of whom had been on Shark Tank or funded by Kickstarter campaigns, was the most inspiring thing I’ve seen out of all my trips to Vegas. Picking their brains was an even better experience.

Be sure to check out today’s video capturing what I saw related to film, or rather, competing with film, at CES.

This blog is from Focus on Film, the weekly e-newsletter that covers the latest news regarding window film and related products, including paint protection film. Click HERE to sign up—there is no charge. Interested in a deeper dive? Free subscriptions to Window Film magazine in print or digital format are available. Subscribe at no charge HERE.

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