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New Year Resolutions and the CES

As a product design geek, there are few things more motivating than going to the consumer electronics show (CES) in Las Vegas. This year I’m going to base my New Year Resolutions on what I’ve learned, seen and been inspired by at the show. I’m also not going to try and not make the same resolutions mistakes and failures as I did last year. I’m going to try to translate my overall themes into smaller achievable steps.


(Yamaha Niken displayed at the show)

The Consumer Electronics Show (https://www.ces.tech/) 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.

Background on resolution #1: Quick observation is that there is a TON of French presence at CES.  I’ve noticed that they have invaded CES more than any other country. Is it a coincidence that a disproportionate amount of innovation 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.  https://en.getmoona.com/)


(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 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 overall 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.)

Resolution Theme #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 as well as

What the actionable items look like:  It may appear to be difficult to really put this theme into actionable steps.  By going to CES I (in effect) put myself in the environment.  I think I need to hit makerspaces, other similar “creative” tradeshows & go where the “makers” are.

Actionable Items based on Resolution #1:
a. Go to 3 tradeshow
b. Try out 3 makerspaces

Background on Resolution #2:  The common theme that ran through all the really interesting and innovative 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 have 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 Royole 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, Royole has a huge factory and is offering a broad range of products.  www.royole.com) 


(Dr. Chen-Hung came up with a soap-less hand cleaner over a 3 year period.  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)

Resolution Theme #2: This resolution is to get organized and focused.  Please realize- I’ve had a number of ideas, but I’ve never been able to take any of them to market despite my intentions.  I’d like to try and play the long game.   The actionable items on this resolution are based more on personal development and sticking with plan.

Actionable Items based on Resolution Theme #2:
d.  Take some SolidWorks classes- specifically I’m thinking SolidWorks PCB & Electrical.
e.  Read and write daily.  Shoot for reading 12 books and writing 12 web articles this year.
f.  Set up an idea folder.
g. Pick one product idea and finish it.  Don’t start anything new until that one is complete.

Background on Resolution #3:  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:  Get passionate.  Go out and make a product.

Actionable Items based on Resolution #3:  This is a zinger for me.  I’ve developed and engineered dozens of products for clients and companies I’ve worked for, but never been able to launch one for myself.   I think this comes a bit from gaps in my skill sets, lack of focus and insufficient funds/time.  And apparently I have a good number of excuses.
h.  Read a book on how to launch a product.
i.  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 (Febuary 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.

Thanks, and Happy New Year!

About the Author


Jim Lucas is currently a design engineer at a company that focuses on disposable medical products and alarms.  He can be reached at Jim.Lucas@i-elf.com.

 

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