It's my third day here at CES, and today marks the opening of the 2018 event to the public. Last night marked the end of the event's two major media days, which concluded with a keynote from Intel.
To say the least, it was ... interesting.
The keynote was titled "How Data Is Shaping Innovation of the Future," and advertised as a deep dive into how data is necessary -- and profoundly powerful -- to continue the growth and innovation of AI.
But it took a while to actually get to the meat of the event. Things kicked off with a performance from what was labeled a "data-only band" called the Algorithm & Blues, which I can only describe as a very bizarre, well-funded production of air-guitar and drumming. And apparently, I wasn't alone in that impression.
But after roughly 20 minutes of this bizarre performance, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich took the stage and wasted no time addressing Meltdown and Spectre -- a 20-year-old security flaw discovered last week in Intel chips -- noting that 90% of the updates needed to resolve the issue have already been shipped, and that the rest will be ready by the end of the month.
And that was it.
Trying to tie together the concepts of data and AI and bring them full-circle is a tall order, and Intel may not have been up to the challenge. Dieter Bohn of The Verge may have put it best:
" ... that story about translating space into data into experiences got a little lost. It’s a difficult, cerebral thing to try to convey, and Intel didn’t quite pull it off."
But there were dots to be connected -- especially when it comes to the fundamental takeaways for marketers that I was able to derive from last night's event.
Here are some of the key conclusions I came away with.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is, in my humble opinion, one of the most important and rapidly-growing frontiers in technology. Take machine learning, for example. It's what allows us, including marketers, to observe, learn, and make conclusions on audience behaviors and preferences ... thanks to the ability of a machine to process the data related to these items much more efficiently than humans can do alone.
And, there's a good chance that you might be working with a massive amount of data in this type of situation. As AI-enabled technology allows us to both capture and synthesize it in an increasingly seamless way, we're able to make more advances in a shorter amount of time.
For the marketer, those advances often come in the form of creating a remarkable and unique user experience.
2. In order to create a truly immersive user experience, we need data.
When it comes to the AI-analyzed data that can be leveraged to create an immersive user experience, I like to shift to the realm of virtual reality. That's where Intel demonstrated the greatest use cases during its keynote, and it's another emerging -- but incredibly important and valuable -- area of technology.
While there was a heavy emphasis on sports- and athletic-event-related experiences last night, the takeaways and technologies shown are more widely applicable than that. Take, for example, Intel's multi-camera (each of which is equipped with multiple lenses) system that captures so many different perspectives of an event that it allows the user, as Krzanich put it, to "select the best seat in the house, every time."
It's a theme that echoed throughout the CES media days, and reminded me of remarks made by NVIDIA's Jensen Huang at a press conference less than 24 hours earlier:
"Virtual reality SHOULD be the largest sport -- because virtual reality can be ANY sport." #CES2018
What's an alternative name, though, for those perspectives that are being captured to create such an immersive experience? You guessed it: data.
To get a bit more technical about it, that type of data capture is powered in part by something called voxels: pixels that are placed into a three-dimensional space, adding depth to whatever is being recorded. And when you use that type of technology to build upon a multi-camera and multi-lens system, said Krzanich, "you're recording everything."
To put that massive amount of information in context, this type of capture often requires data creation at a rate of 3TB/minute. That's the equivalent, Krzanich claimed, of producing all of the content of the Library of Congress in the first quarter of a football game.
3. Data-powered experiences allow marketers to show (instead of tell).
When I was live-tweeting this keynote last night, I made fun of myself for "ranting" a bit about the above. But there's a point -- and we've finally arrived at it.
Marketers are often challenged with communicating a product or service in a captivating way that reaches precisely the right audience. And sometimes, those products or services are profoundly difficult to describe, or -- on the surface at least -- kind of boring.
That's where this immersive data and perspective capture becomes so valuable. Marketers are frequently tasked with proactively answering questions. How does your stuff work? How does it fix things? Why do -- and should -- your customers come to you?
With a difficult-to-describe product or service, answering those questions with words alone is, simply put, really hard. But now, the data-powered VR technology covered at this keynote can be used to show people the answer, rather than just telling them.
Now, you can show people how your stuff works. You can insert them into a virtual experience that immersively demonstrates how you solve problems. As Krzanich put it -- marketers are now empowered to create "a perspective that nobody else can provide."
As always, I'm open to your take on these insights. Feel free to reach out to me with your thoughts and questions on Twitter, or follow along for my latest coverage of CES 2018.