New Year’s Resolutions and CES 2019

by Jim Lucas

As a product design geek, there are few things that are more motivating than going to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Yamaha Niken displayed at CES

What is CES all about?

CES had more than 4500 exhibitors and occupied the majority of the Las Vegas Convention Center and multiple casino/hotels.  More than 175,000 people visit to view innovations from categories ranging from pet care to 3D printing to flying cars.  There are more than 1000 start-ups.  This is an annual epic gathering of the most exciting advances and cutting edge technologies available.  This year I’m going to base my New Year’s Resolutions on what I’ve learned, seen and been inspired by at the show.

Resolution #1

Put myself in a “French” environment.  Surround myself with passionate and supportive people.  Help them out where I can, and enjoy being part of the ride.  I’m not 100% sure, but I think if you find the right group, you can get encouraging accountability partners.

There is a TON of French presence at CES. I’ve noticed it more than any other country.  Is it a coincidence that the most innovation (per capita) comes from the same country that is the headquarters for the #1 CAD design software in the world (Dassault’s SOLIDWORKS)?  I don’t think so.  I think there are two things at play, both of them are cultural.

First, the French culture appreciates and honors the passionate individual.  You can see it in the way they play soccer (they are always going for the hard 1v1 challenge instead of the passing game), their architecture (every building is a unique statement) and their culinary skills (don’t need to say much about this one).  The second is that, as a people group, they are very supportive of new ideas and initiatives.

Here are 4 of my favorite French examples in Eureka Hall

Moona is a pillow that helps regulate sleep by adjusting head temperature. This French invention is based on established research that hasn’t been acted on prior to this. 

B’Safe is a French company that has developed an airbag for bicyclist.  It deploys when it senses an accident, protecting the neck, spinal cord, ribs, and internal organs.  The demo on the product is impressive.  Take a look at https://cyclist.helite.com/ .

Bob is a tabletop dishwasher meant for a couple of people living in efficient living conditions.  At the show, they were showing a chic & colorful prototype.  They expect to have production units this year, and shipping to the US next year.   More info can be found at https://daan.tech/

Klaxoon is a unique software that is meant to improve meetings.  Instead of shunning cell-phones and electronic devices at weekly work get-togethers, they embrace and utilize it.  Based in France and growing rapidly in Europe, they are seeing impressive gains in meeting productivity, a decrease in meeting time and an increase in participation/engagement.  They are working with a professor in North Carolina named Steven Rogelberg who wrote The Surprising Science of Meetings.  They are pursuing the US market this year and started a bus tour in Vegas at the show.  The road trip can be found @ www.klaxoon.com 

By going to CES I (in effect) put myself in the environment.  I plan to try out 3 makerspaces and visit 3 additional tradeshows in my effort to go where the “makers” are.

Resolution #2

Get organized and focused.

I’ve had a number of ideas, but I’ve never taken them to market despite my intentions.   The common theme that ran through all the really interesting and innovative products at CES was that these products were developed by passionate people over long periods of time.  They generally sacrificed comfortable lives and stability for the exciting possibility of getting a product to market.  Here are a few of those companies:

Bell showed the initial concept of their flying car.  They seem to be on track to developing a model that may see widespread use, but they acknowledged and accepted that they are a few years away from providing a vehicle that will be an “Air Uber”.   https://www.bellflight.com 

Flexpai is the world’s first foldable smartphone and was presented by 34-year-old Royale founder and CEO Dr. Bill Liu.  After he completed his degree at Stanford, he went to a small office in China with a few colleagues and worked on developing the screen.   A few years later, Royale has a huge factory and is offering a broad range of products. www.royale.com

Dr. Chen-Hung came up with a soap-less hand cleaner.  If you just add water, the unit will produce a disinfecting solution.  This product could revolutionize the whole soap dispensing market.  www.eleclean.com.tw.


To support my resolution #2, I plan to take some SOLIDWORKS classes specifically, I’m thinking SOLIDWORKS PCB & Electrical. I’ll read and write daily.  Shoot for reading 12 books and writing 12 web articles this year.  I plan to set up an idea folder. And, finally I’ll pick one product idea and finish it.

Resolution #3

Get passionate! Go out and make a product.

Flying cars and complicated electronics are out of reach for most of us (including me).  There were a number of products that were very simple and very doable.   They were clever solutions to problems.  There are still lots of problems in the world so there are lots of opportunities for us to create.  The biggest issue is just going for it.

Here are a couple of products that are simple concepts that solve common problems.  I’m not trying to diminish the complexity of getting them to market, but I am saying that you don’t need an electrical engineering degree to play.

This new product was conceived by a high school math teacher.  When you go to a public restroom, this invention offers a place to put your phone.  It’s part of the lock.  www.stallmate.info.

This was my wife’s favorite of the show, and by all appearances by the booth activity, it appeared to be the favorite of several others as well. The company is “speck” and they make a wide variety of cell phone accessories.  The product shown (grabtab) acts as a stand, convenient phone holder and a fashion statement.  www.speckproducts.com. 

Resolution #3 is a zinger for me.  I’ve developed and engineered dozens of products for clients and companies I’ve worked for, but haven’t yet launched one for myself.   To support my resolution I plan to read a book on how to launch a product and develop a plan.

There you have it…  The first pass at planning my 2019.  It’s a little late, so I’ve been thinking about really starting it on the Chinese New Year (February 4th this year).  However, I’ll get started right away and keep you posted.  Please hold me accountable and let me know what you’re doing for 2019 goals and resolutions.

Thanks and Happy New Year!’

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