Head Judge of the CEATEC INNOVATION AWARDS, “As Selected by U.S. Journalists”.
The Reason Why I Decided to Participate in CEATEC JAPAN 2014.
CEATEC JAPAN offers a window into the strategic initiatives and product plans of some of the Japan’s largest and most important companies. Nissan in particular in recent years has used the conference to highlight advances in its technology. In 2007, a Nissan executive disclosed the company’s plans to me to build an all-electric vehicle: the story, written on CNET, was the first article ever published on what became the Nissan Leaf. In later years, the company showed what it was working on for autonomous vehicles, technology that will make it into cars over the next few years.
Toyota, Sharp and Panasonic have also used the event to showcase their ideas for smart homes. Smart homes have been a staple for technology conferences for years. But these products are finally coming to market: CEATEC JAPAN has been one of the key places to see the progress of this technology from idea to reality.
Several advances in TV technology have been shown off first at CEATEC JAPAN. Some of these technologies, like Toshiba’s nanotube TV, may never make it to market, but these advances need to be tracked. And CEATEC JAPAN has always been my preferred forum for seeing what’s on the mind of leading manufacturers.
The event is also a good forum for seeing advances in enterprise technology. Consumer products can often overshadow enterprise at conferences, but if you take the time you can find some very compelling gems. In particular, many companies use the show to highlight advances in technology for city planning and agriculture. Fujitsu, for instance, showed off a cloud system for optimizing strains of lettuce in 2013 that had particular health benefits for people with liver problems. These sort of inventions may not get the same sort of headlines as a new phone, but they will have a more significant impact worldwide. The role of Japan is also often understated when it comes to technology advances: few realize that Japanese companies play a crucial role in smart grid advances in the U.S. It is strange that I have to travel all of the way to Japan to learn about things that impact the U.S. but that is how I cover these issues.
My Expectations of CEATEC JAPAN 2014 and Exhibitions in the Future.
Japanese companies, in my mind, often set the mark when it comes to industrial design and precision engineering. I always attend the show looking for new, inventive ways that companies are using LED screens, batteries or flash memory. At my first CEATEC JAPAN, I recall Sony showing me a 1 terabyte home storage system. At the time, it seemed like an astounding amount of storage. But Sony said that media libraries were going to make that seem small in the future. It was also packaged in a compelling way. Years later, a terabyte seems commonplace.
In 2014, I will be looking for advances in mobile (always a favorite at the show) smart home and LED lighting. LED is set to become one of the largest markets in technology. But it is also a market where quality, more than price, will drive the market. Consumers are very wary about cheap, flickering lights. Products from China have earned, at times, a dim reputation. Manufacturers will advance manufacturing technology that can combine their components with cutting-edge industrial design stand to greatly benefit. I thus anticipate spending a lot of time looking at lights in smart homes.
Profile: Michael Kanellos.
Michael Kanellos is the technology analyst at Eastwick, an integrated marketing firm that focuses on high tech clients, and a high technology reporter. Over the last twenty years, he has written about the rise of the solar industry, the economic and technical challenges facing the chip industry, Samsung’s emergence onto the world stage, the birth of search technology and the internationalization of the tech economy among other issues for CNET, Greentech Media, Forbes, Greenbiz, the New York Times, National Geographic and many other publications. He is also a frequent speaker at conferences such as the Flash Memory Summit, Solar Power International, CES and other events. You can read some of his latest work at the “Power Forward” blog on Forbes.