The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is trade-only, its marketing collateral reads. However, a “social media influencer” credential can be obtained relatively easy. Umm, well, CFanatics, with its 400,000+ ‘gram followers definitely qualified. Humble brag.
For me, this #CES2020 was the third time in attendance at the trade show. The first time, I was employed full-time as associate editor at Mobile Electronics, a magazine and thrice-weekly e-newsletter Hotline. This was 2011, on the cusp of the 2012 show, and still a time when “in-vehicle connectivity” and “integration” were still just a few phrases tossed around in show advance stories published in ME.
Today, I’m between jobs, having been laid off from Antelope Valley Press in Palmdale, Calif., a few miles away from where the B-21 is being assembled by Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin for the DOD. (Ask me why I feel that this information being reported on the front page of the Valley Press is ridiculous and an intelligence fail another time).
So, here we are in 2020 and at the LVCC to see what the deal is. I was trying to find parking at Trump Tower just to see whether they’d let me in, but I circled around and realized it’s better to be booked there to stay, then to just pop in. So off to Palazzo I went, parked my CarPlay equipped Kia Rio, and walked to the show.
That’s right – I walked, since that’s the only civilized mobility for a trade show that expects 175,000 attendees. Even on the second of two media days, the clusterfuck had already began. I saw a white guy with an Irvine, California-based company about his CES badge in the elevator, attempted to have a conversation with a Chinese man outside Palazzo to ask for shuttle directions – and failed, of course – and just took off for the brisk walk.
On this walk, I passed by a set-up in an adjacent parking lot. I was intrigued because of the white-and-green color scheme and the word “mobility” splattered across different points. I saw some SUVs, sedans, and the word “electric” on some of them, so assumed it was an electric whip or autonomous driving test drive depot.
I was somewhat off track.
Spotting the Pioneer logo on a SUV next to Docomo and Valeo logos, I asked the staff on the ground to point me towards a media relations person. I chopped it up with her and she brought in the executive to demo and explain what Valeo is all about. Gillaume, whose French-accented English wasn’t that difficult to build rapport around, showed off the technology that will likely become standardized and benchmarked for OEMs and automakers by next year. He told me one rental company has already signed on for one of Valeo features. It’s not hard to see it trickle down to other automakers.
Being that I am a music industry connected journalist who listens to a range of R&B and hip-hop when not trying to produce concerts or write screenplays for motion pictures set in East Africa, I was intrigued by what the Pioneer x Docomo x Valeo strategic alliance was about. What Japan-based Docomo’s trifecta of staff demonstrated to me was both incredibly weird and powerful. The acoustic science in the Volkswagen SUV was about playing up to four different songs and my ear being able to pick up all four without getting a headache.
As I understand, this acoustic technology, still in development, of course, will be applicable to electric buses such as the ones BYD Motors is rolling out of Lancaster, California, presumably. It will also provide a unique audio experience for each passenger. If I’m driving, say, a noir Rolls-Royce Black Badge Cullinan, in Dar es Salaam’s Bagamoyo Road, where in May-June 2007 I saw posters of one of the U.S. government’s “most wanted” terrorists before his May 1, 2011, demise, that’s the kind of audio experience I’d like to see and feel.
Klipsch has some cool headphones
The Indianapolis-originated audio brand Klipsch really has a good vibe. Not unlike House of Marley, arguably my favorite audio brand – not just because of Bob, but definitely because of how real Rohan Marley has come across every time we touched base. I dropped by their booth for a very strange pull-in reason: They had a McLaren race car right by it.
Apparently, the racing juggernaut has partnered with Klipsch on some ear-pieces – headphones just doesn’t seem like the right descriptor – to be released to physical and digital retail later this year. We hope to learn more about the Klipsch brand’s partnership with McLaren in an interview with executives from one or both of the companies. Stay tuned.
We may or may not be back to #CES2020 in Las Vegas, but we’ll definitely try and cover the show elsewhere in the world and produce some journalism.
Journalist Slav Kandyba joined the Car Fanatics Blog staff in 2012 and would like to drive a 2020 Jaguar i-PACE through Kyiv streets on a Sunday afternoon between March and November. Tweet him @carpediemslav
Photo Credit: Newspress USA