We have visited the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the National Retail Federation’s Big Show (commonly known as NRF) in the U.S.

I’ve just got back from a busy couple of weeks at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the National Retail Federation’s Big Show (commonly known as NRF) in the U.S. CES is the biggest technology show in the world with over 150,000 people attending and NRF is the biggest retail tech show in the world with a crowd of around 40,000.

At CES there was a definite focus on wearable technology. We met companies that provide all sorts of wearables from watches and fitness trackers (now even for your dog!) to a variety of companies that are building head mounted displays. There is definitely a lot of potential for these devices to change how customers interact with us in the future. For example, imagine being able to add products to your shopping list or your online grocery order just by looking at them and tapping your glasses, or just by saying the name of the product out loud.


Trying out one of the watches at the CES

At NRF in New York, the trend for wearables was similar if less pronounced. Epson showcased their impressive augmented reality glasses with a partner of theirs who had created a product picking app. We thought this could easily help Personal Shoppers in our dotcom stores, because it could visually show them where a particular product is located on a shelf, leaving both their hands free to pick it up and pack it for the customer.


Mike trying out the Epson glass

We also recently got hold of Google Glass, and CES was the perfect environment to give it a longer test (thanks to the techy crowd attending, where I definitely blended in a bit more with other “Glass Explorers” who were a common sight around the show.) Watch this space for news on what we’re up to with that.

As Mike mentioned in his blog post, there were lots of innovations at NRF that have the potential to have a positive impact on the customer and this was reflected at CES too. You may have heard about 4K displays, which people are saying is the next big revolution in TV. 4K displays were originally developed for use in digital cinema projection and offers four times the resolution of existing Full HD, 1080p TVs. They feel much more immersive, especially if you are up close and within touching distance. We also saw some holographic-like technology that felt like you were interacting with an image that appeared to float in mid-air as though it was a touch screen (although it was impossible to photograph properly). This combined with the larger screens and integrated mobile experiences could add a bit of theatre to the store environment.

Another big trend at CES this year was the growing emergence of self-driving cars and more generally connected cars. This might have a huge effect on how we shop, from cars that park themselves when you get out at the door right through to a car that goes to a drive-through click and collect whilst you’re at work… imagine that.

The car of the future? The self-driving car at the CES.