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Producers Guild of America New Media Council East panel: ‘Gaming the System: Branded Entertainment for Producers’ – Wednesday, September 30th, 7:00-9:00 pm at The New School’s Lang Auditorium

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Join me and six branded entertainment luminaries at my PGA New Media Council East mega-panel during Advertising Week New York, ‘Gaming the System: Branded Entertainment for Producers’ on Wednesday, September 30th, from 7:00-9:00 pm, at The New School’s Lang Auditorium, 55 West 13th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues), 2nd floor.

In addition to great networking, food & drink, and a gathering of the new media tribes, the following presenters will appear:

  • Ian Schafer, chairman, US CEO and founder, Deep Focus
  • Warren Weideman, founder, First Look Productions LLC
  • Luis de la Parra, senior vice president, partner solutions, Univision
  • Colas Overkott, CEO, Sync
  • Will Misselbrook, head of branded entertainment, Condé Nast Entertainment
  • Andy Oakes, managing director, The Drum

You can RSVP at:

http://www.producersguild.org/events/Sessions.aspx?id=688263

 

I hope to see you on Wednesday, September 30th during Advertising Week New York for this event.

 

 

IBC Video Content Innovation Summit Kicks Off IBC 2017

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On the first morning of IBC 2017, Chris Pfaff Tech Media and Integer 1 hosted the IBC Video Content Innovation Summit at the Rockstart Accelerator in Amsterdam, which featured some of the leading innovators in the broadcast technology space today, including Vimond; Verizon envrmnt; HCL, and Valossa.

Emceed by Chris Pfaff, the breakfast event, held in the main event room at Rockstart, featured a technology keynote from Sanjay Macwan, focused on the shifting landscape for content distribution and consumption, and presented the audience of 55 producers, distributors, and vendors a view into where global content behaviors are headed. Macwan moderated a panel with Helge Hoibraaten, CEO of Vimond, Mika Rautiainen, CEO of Valossa, and Raheel Khalid, CTO of Verizon envrmnt (Kanwaldeep Kalsi, VP of Media for HCL, could not make the event, due to a delayed flight). The event literally presented some of the leading figures in OTT (Vimond), VR and AR (Verizon envrmnt), AI (Valossa), and cloud infrastructure (HCL).

Chris Pfaff emcees the IBC Video Content Innovation Summit

Sanjay Macwan, CEO of Integer 1, presents his keynote 

Sanjay gets into discussing the Muybridge experiment

Poster on front door of Rockstart Accelerator, Amsterdam

Raheel Khalid, CTO of Verizon envrmnt

Helge Hoibraaten, CEO of Vimond

Sanjay Macwan, left, and Mika Rautiainen, right

Long shot of the event room at Rockstart Accelerator

Sanjay poses a question to the panel

Raheel Khalid, Verizon envrmnt           Helge Hoibraaten, Vimond                   Mika Rautiainen, Valossa                     AI, OTT, and VR/AR all-stars

Highlights from the panel discussion included Helge’s discussion regarding content consumption (“we now have all the content we would ever want – in some ways, we don’t have to produce any more”) and content behaviors (“we interviewed teenagers about TV and they said ‘I have everything that I need in my phone'”). Raheel discussed the issue of every-cinreasing on -demand behaviors, in that people will “not wait for large files to download.” he said that Verizon envrmnt can now stream large-file content by taking game logic and running it on the fly. In this sense, VR and AR content is seamlessly distributed. He discussed Verizon envrmnt’s mobile edge compute strategy – which takes 20 milliseconds for a round trip. With 5G coming in, 1 gigabit bandwidth will enable VR content to be flawlessly streamed. Mika talked about the need to understand how video can be read and how machine learning can train to enable smarter questions around content itself.

See the promo highlight video at: https://youtu.be/lfZPjMLZa-w

The event was a swan song for Rockstart, as it was the last event in the main room at their 182 Herengracht location (they have since moved slightly north to a larger facility). But, it was a kickstart for IBC 2017, and in addition to a good meal, the crowd feasted on some hearty discussion.

 

Advertising Week TechX Brings the Fun to Ad-Tech

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The brainchild of VentureFuel and the Experiential Advertising Group, the Advertising Week New York 2017 TechX experience in Times Square, in a pop-up space between H&M and the NASDAQ MarketSite, curated some of the hippest tech for the ad world, from September 25-28. From digital art projects to AR apps to VR tools and holographic displays, the TechX arena offered a wide palette of commercially available experiences for attendees – creatives and media buyers – to play with and understand.

Ryan Hilla demonstrates Verizon envrmnt’s AR activation for Time Inc. to Guy Story and Vinne Grasso

The value of TechX cannot be understated: for years, Advertising Week has shunted ad-tech demos into the lower level of the Times Center on 8th and 41st, mainly as an afterthought to the main programming upstairs. TechX was both long overdue and also groundbreaking in its depth, bringing start-up companies in the immersive and AI worlds into a forum for major brand conversations on the state of the ad industry.

Mika Rautiainen demonstrates Valossa AI

TechX saw the launch of immersive analytics company QuantumXPR, with Scott Susskind and Kris Matheney camped out in the lower level of the venue, near two rows of digital art projects. Verizon envrmnt, the end-to-end VR/AR studio from Verizon Labs, was in full force, showcasing its AR projects for the likes of Time Inc., and Conde Nast, as well as its Virtual Sportsbar experience. The Valossa AI demo presented attendees with a new way to understand video, and VNTANA

showcased the best holographic display technology we have yet seen. Retinad’s VR in-console ad analytics and Tunity’s out of home display audio solution presented measurable technology for audiences underserved, or not yet measured. DreamSail Games showcased an expansive VR game environment, and Holosonics presented directional audio solutions.

VNTANA’s holographic display demonstrated the full-size immersive side of out of home displays

Sean Brown, with Turner Courageous, gets a demo of the Verizon envrmnt AR activation for a Verizon Store drone campaign, from JR Dawkins

Brian Roth, from Immersv, gets a VR demo from Christian Egeler, director of VR/AR at Verizon envrmnt

Nestled just steps away from the Times Square bustle, TechX was a rare opportunity to glimpse some of the more inventive ways to deliver and measure ads – and no PowerPoint involved.

Yes – there were sessions at TechX as well. Here’s a lively VC discussion in play

VR/AR Association Presents ‘Narrative in VR: How to Create Compelling Stories with Virtual Reality’ at NYU Tandon Future Lab

By • Posted & filed under News and Press Releases

On a steamy late-September Monday (September 25, 2017), on the first day of Advertising Week New York, the VR/AR Association hosted an event with some of the leaders in VR storytelling, ‘Narrative in VR: How to Create Compelling Stories with Virtual Reality,’ at the NYU Tandon Future Lab in DUMBO, Brooklyn.

(l to r) Brian Seth Hurst; Caitlin Burns; Raheel Khalid, and Lewis Smithingham at the NYU Tandon Future Lab in DUMBO

Moderated by Chris Pfaff, the panel featured Brian Seth Hurst, Chief Storytelling and President at StoryTech Immersive; Raheel Khalid, CTO of Verizon envrmnt; Caitlin Burns, founder/CEO of Caitlin Burns & Associates, and Lewis Smithingham, president and partner at 30ninjas. An audience of 35 producers, artists, and students were part of a lively discussion regarding VR’s narrative structures, and how much of today’s VR industry has adapted game design techniques to better deliver moving experiences.

Marco Castro, artist in residence at NYU Tandon Future Lab, welcomes the crowd

Brian Seth Hurst showed his groundbreaking piece ‘My Brother’s Keeper,’ which premiered on HTC Viveport at Sundance 2017, and was produced for PBS Digital Studios. Currently the most widely distributed VR film to date, ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ was what Hurst detailed as an invention process, as it is the first live action VR film shot at 120 frames per second, and includes innovation such as 180 framing and Bokeh inside the sphere.

Brian Seth Hurst discusses ‘My Brother’s Keeper’

Raheel Khalid showed some of Verizon envrmnt’s latest work, its ‘Virtual Sports Bar’ experience, which creates opportunities for multi-user drop-in experiences. He has helped build new tools for multi-user VR experiences that will enable producers and consumers to shape their own VR narratives in real-time.

Raheel Khalid shows off the Verizon envrmnt virtual sports bar, and discusses new VR tools for multi-user narratives

Caitlin Burns described some of her work on Space Nation, a Helsinki-based organization that uses virtual experiences to train civilians for space travel. She also discussed some of her early learnings in VR storytelling, and how to overcome technological hurdles to maintain narrative focus.

Caitlin Burns discusses Space Nation

Lewis Smithingham described challenges that he has faced with VR and AR productions, including his work for the ‘Conan O’Brien Show.’

Lewis Smithingham describes the challenges of live VR and AR production

Raheel Khalid gives Lewis Smithingham a Google Daydream demo

Chris Pfaff Tech Media hosts IBC Video Content Innovation Summit at IBC 2017 in Amsterdam

By • Posted & filed under Uncategorized

 

 

This year’s IBC will likely have more content producers and distributors seeking solutions in AI, VR/AR, OTT, and cloud management. So, in order to help kick off this year’s show right, we have curated some of the leading players in media innovation today, and they are all at IBC 2017 at our Video Content Innovation Summit. 

Come have breakfast, network with industry peers, and enjoy discussions on the latest in VR/AR; AI for media; OTT; cloud and mobile content distribution and more. Meet with leading players in the broadcast; cable; OTT, and infrastructure arenas.
Our venue is the event space at the Rockstart Accelerator, one of Amsterdam’s main innovation hubs, at Herengracht 182, 1016 BR. 
Attendance is free, with registration. Please register your RSVP at: http://bit.ly/2gmeKYa
Produced by Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC and Integer 1, the event will feature:
  • Helge Hoibraaten, CEO, Vimond
  • Raheel Khalid, CTO, Verizon envrmnt
  • Mika Rautiainen, CEO, Valossa
  • Kanwaldeep Kalsi, VP, Media & Entertainment, HCL Americas

Our esteemed colleague, Sanjay Macwan, will deliver a keynote presentation, and moderate our expert panel.

Hosted by Chris Pfaff Tech Media & Integer1.

8:00 am – 8:45 am – Registration and Breakfast

8:45 am – 9:00 am – Welcome and Opening Remarks (Chris Pfaff)

9:00 am – 9:30 am – The State of Global Video Technology and Content Innovation – keynote (Sanjay Macwan)

9:30 am – 10:00 am – Panel discussion with HCL, Verizon envrmnt, Valossa, and Vimond

10:00 am – 10:10 am – Closing Remarks

10:10 am – 10:30 am – Networking 

 

 

NAB 2017: The Day the Clouds Rolled In

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Skip Pizzi (left) moderates the ‘Overview of Emerging Technologies’ session, the first session of the conference, 04.22.17

NAB 2017 was one of the more eventful showdowns in Las Vegas in recent years for the pro video industry, even though no monster product launches or titillating vapor announcements were made. It’s hard to imagine today, but the show that is now a battle for supremacy in the cloud, and in the workflow, was once the place of massive hardware launches. Gone are the days of lines to see the RED camera; the latest Avid or Media 100 editing suite, or Panasonic 3D system. Now, your next technology partner is likely to be the start-up that just cut a deal with Facebook. And, yes, start-ups at NAB are now a thing, not just window-dressing. As the media industry, globally, spawns more innovation in the start-up domain, NAB has expanded its Sprockit start-up program, creating a destination in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Harry Glazer (center) addresses the Sprockit 2017 program companies at a pre-show reception, 04.23.17

Ville Hulkko and Karita Kasurinen, of Valossa, setting up in the Sprockit demo area in the North Hall, 04.23.17

Facebook took over the South Hall Upper Level corner demo area with a partner pavilion, a cheeky way to cut into the action through FB Live, and other recent F8 unveilings such as Spaces and Camera. Zuck did not make it to NAB, but it begs the question as to whether he’ll keynote next year, now that Snapchat has gone public. The fact that Facebook was a Nexus toss from the Google booth was more irony; this was Google’s most impressive showing at NAB, and they scared the bejesus out of anyone and everyone who was paying attention.

Facebook’s partner pavilion outside the South Hall Upper Level. NAB 2017 marked Facebook’s first year as an exhibitor

Google Jump camera demo (left) and a wider shot of the Google booth in the South Hall Upper Level

Alexis Kenda (left) demos Reminiz for Jason Deadrich, Vision Media, 04.26.17

While 8K, HEVC, HDR, and questions regarding the next phases of OTT growth saturated conversations, more and more of the show scratched the edges of “what next?” with regard to 5G, VR and AR as broadcast tools, and AI as a catch-all for whatever ails your product suite. There was certainly less buzz about VR at NAB 2017 than the previous year, but more discussion about cameras, workflow, and services on the show floor. I didn’t even make it to the VR pavilion – as if it really mattered. When every major post house and DP worth his/her light gauge is well past their initial VR project, it’s time to get real and send the fairy dust sprinklers back to their bungalows in West Hollywood (or Covina). The same could have been said about drones; this year, the Central Hall hosted a more sober offering of drone purveyors, with less fanfare on hero demos. We ran into Gremsy, a Vietnamese drone company, on Sunday morning, with some cool products, and saw little else that had not been seen before.

Gremsy, a Vietnamese drown manufacturer, joined the throng in the Central Hall, 04.23.17

The exhibitors who annually pack in scores of loyal customers – Blackmagic Design, Adobe, Vizrt – were not to be outdone by the likes of Ooyala, who took over part of the outdoor demo area with a pavilion. More traffic was seen this year in the OTT services area in the South Hall Upper Level, where Vimond had an impressive display.

The Adobe booth, packed as always.    Vimond maintained steady traffic in the South Hall Upper Level

The telecom world was mostly in the background at NAB 2017, although Verizon had three (because two is not enough) booths at the show, with the Verizon Labs booth featuring streaming VR, via Ozo camera, with the Nokia booth, and more dazzling demos from Verizon envrmnt, which showcased its World Builder demo to great effect.

Nokia Technologies streamed live footage from an Ozo camera on a private fiber line to the Verizon Labs booth

Dave Strumwasser (left), from Verizon envrmnt describes, and presents, the Verizon World Builder demo for IBM’s Marisela Riveros

While broadcasters seem to be consolidating to the point of abstraction, Sinclair – which just threw down $3.9 billion to acquire Tribune Media – was making waves with its ATSC 3.0 demos, hoping to assure the industry that technology progress will be made (in addition to massive spectrum acquisition).

IBM Watson’s cognitive services were on display at NAB 2017

While NAB has not been much of a party scene since the go-go ‘90s, Verizon Digital Media Services threw a huge party at Top Golf, and the Sports Video Group took over the Omnia nightclub for its annual “Pre-Game” bash.

 

The view from the Omnia nightclub at Caesar’s Palace, site of the Sports Video Group’s annual “pre-game” bash, 04.23.17

Top Golf, site of Verizon Digital Media Services’ massive party, 04.24.17

But the real story, for me, was the transformation of the business to the cloud, whether AWS, Azure, Google, or Dell EMC, or others. The applications and innovations delivered by these bedrock services are multiplying, and driving further investment, and starting to fulfill dark fiber long laid in anticipation of something big. Something big has already arrived, though, and it’s going to require more space – up there in the cloud.

 

 

 

Mobile World Congress 2017: The Quiet Tipping Point

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There was an aspect of expectation to Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2017 in Barcelona that went far beyond the usual trade show hype. With the mobile world encompassing everything in our technology universe, MWC 2017 very quietly – and firmly – showed that the mobile ecosystem can, and will, show the way forward. All of that hype about VR and super mixed reality last year? We have greater clarity this year – from Samsung Gear to network operators such as Verizon and Orange. Augmented reality seemed too much too soon last year? We now have more AR implementations, and more interest and demand in AR now than ever before. 5G yet another acronymic bamboozle? It will take a while, for sure, but it’s coming – this year.

MWC 2017 was a watershed, in its own quiet way. And it’s not just the big boys who are spurring innovation. Qualcomm and Intel duked it out near each other, as always, but while the companies shared as much of the stage in the IoT, smart auto, AI shuffle, it was more evident than ever that the European start-up ecosystem was making major strides in the mobile SDK world. From gesture recognition (the Swedes showed off Manomotion and Crunchfish) to intelligent location (Finland’s Quuppa), we are seeing more efficient delivery of complex experiences, driven from European university spin-outs and venture-backed start-ups.

The week was endless, as usual, and started with GSMA’s event at the Pullman Barcelona Skipper Hotel, and an excellent panel moderated by Bonfire Lab’s John Gilles, on VR/AR, paneled by Verizon Ventures’ Ed Ruth; Oculus’ Andy Mathis, and Ericsson’s Per Borgklint.

John Gilles, Bonfire Labs; Ed Ruth, Verizon Ventures; Andy Mathis, Oculus, and Per Borgklint at GSMA Summit’s VR/AR panel

Mobile Sunday, at the Estrella Damm event center, saw a critical mass of people – investors, start-ups, and analysts – with a mass of new faces. Kudos to Robin Wauters and Rudy De Waele on growing this event into a seminal MWC gathering.

Rudy De Waele and Robin Wauters great the Mobile Sunday crowd at the Estrella Damm event center

With the entire world worried about cybersecurity’s ability to take on new threats, the mobile world had more answers at MWC 2017, including solutions from Estonia. More network-based innovations for smart cities and IoT were on display from everywhere – from SK Telecom to Huawei.

The device manufacturers did not boffo announcements, but incremental progress – from Sony’s Xperia accessories to LG and Samsung’s forthcoming tablets – and the nostalgic hype for the Nokia 3310 and the new BlackBerry device showed the diversity of the market.

Sony’s super slow motion feature showed that the smartphone has now overcome the likes of GoPro

Sony Xperia Ear, an earpiece which uses gesture recognition

Oddly enough, two of the biggest statements at the event emanated from New Jersey: Verizon and Nokia Bell Labs. Verizon’s stand was a show of innovation, from its telematics group to smart city and IoT solutions to the new holding company, Exponent, which will deliver service architecture for other carriers. The company’s envrmnt studio, and end-to-end VR/AR offering, will be part of Exponent.

Me at the Verizon stand. The company made a major statement through its envrmnt VR/AR studio

But, overall, the most stunning statement made at the show was from Nokia. Its stand was a testimony to new ideas and even a new attitude. Bell Labs shined with its race track demo, which had radio-controlled cars (cheekily named after Bell Labs luminaries, including Claude Shannon) powered over 4G and 5G networks, showing the efficacy of network controls. Nokia, which acquired Bell Labs and the old Alcatel-Lucent entity last year, has already rebranded and repowered Bell Labs, and it was evident at MWC 2017.

We can only hope that the coming year will deliver more experiences powered by network innovation, which was quietly the star at MWC 2017.

 

Estonians hard at work, first thing in the morning, on Day #3 of MWC 2017

LG was a quiet presence at MWC 2017

Samsung bristled with energy; its Galaxy Note 7 disaster well in the rearview mirror

IBM’s Watson story has increased since last year, and drew flocks of people to its psychedelic-meets-Deco booth, complete with the “cognitive dress,” which is designed based on user’s moods and whims.

IBM’s “cognitive dress”

Intel’s mega-pixel wall

ST Microelectronics’ “smart football” – the Wilson X Smart Football – brings IoT to the sports world

 

 

Kim Mathews mans the Nokia Bell Labs race track; scenes of the track and one of the radio-controlled cars, featuring the names of Bell Labs Nobel laureates John Bardeen and Arno Penzias

 

VR/AR Association Event, ‘VR for Producers’ Features Verizon envrmnt, Littlstar, and Associated Press at NYU Data Futures Lab

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The first VR/AR Association New York Chapter event of 2017, ‘Virtual Reality for Producers: How to Create and Deliver for the New Content Frontier,’ took place last Wednesday night, February 15th, at the NYU Data Futures Lab, and it delivered not only a full standing-room-only crowd of 95 people, but some of New York’s finest producers working the VR scene.

You can watch the video of the event at:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B58D21m9dOMOdFJJSGE1UWMzVzA

Kris Kolo, New York chapter head of the VR/AR Association, introduces the goals and benefits of the organization

As more New York producers learn the craft of producing in VR, the industry will grow concomitantly. Wednesday’s session was an ideal session for learnings from the likes of Paul Cheung, direct of interactive at Associated Press (AP); Alissa Crevier, global head of partnerships, at Littlstar, and Christian Egeler, director of VR/AR product development with Verizon envrmnt.

Chris Pfaff introduces the speakers and sets up the event

Paul Cheung guided the audience through his learnings with the almost dozen VR cameras that he and his team have tested. He discussed some of the work that AP has done with branded content partners, and how to adapt the standards of the AP (an organization that literally developed the journalistic standards known as “AP Style” over the past 180-plus years) to VR production. In other words, while shooting a scene, do you keep the DP and/or the producer in the shot, or matte that out? For AP, that choice is obvious: leave the production team in the frame. Cheung described some of the learnings in VR as they apply to the overall production work that his interactive has to deal with, enabling a smoother workflow scenario.

Paul Cheung discusses the range of VR cameras that AP has tested and and used

For Alissa Crevier, Littlstar’s work has grown to the point where the company is as much a platform for content as it is a stand-alone producer of VR content. This has created a new kind of channel for VR partners, and the Littlstar roster of clients includes the who’s who of major content distributors, including Disney/ABC, Discovery, Nat Geo, Showtime, and the Wall Street Journal, among others. Crevier’s experience with Spotify, and the music industry in general, have helped her navigate clearances and understand the vagaries of the live music scene, and live streaming, to understand the value of WebVR versus individual VR platforms, such as Oculus, Gear, or Vive, among others.

Alissa Crevier presents Littlstar’s productions and its content platform model

Christian Egeler took the audience through the Verizon envrmnt learnings, and how they have applied to the studio’s growth in areas that include their Social VR platform. The envrmnt cross-platform SDK has gained traction in the industry, including with the March, 2017 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, which includes an AR app, a native app, and integrated envrmnt SDK so that trigger images are easier to recognize. Egeler also showed an Alpine Village demo with dynamic updates (first showed at the Amazon Web Services Invent and Nvidia conferences). He hinted at the possibility that envrmnt might release a “build your own” 3D engine later this year. A VR experience produced for Super Bowl LI was also demonstrated.

Christian Egeler shares learnings from Verizon envrmnt’s studio work, and showcases new work, including its Social VR platform

The audience, mostly comprised of producers, was intrigued by the experiences that the three presenters had. The lively panel discussion dove into issues surrounding the growth of an industry that still has yet to standardize areas of production and post-production, as well as the growth of WebVR, in the wake of a still-early headset market.

Paul Cheung during the panel discussion

Mina Salib (right, speaking), program manager at the NYU Futures Labs, introduces the audience to new opportunities at the Labs

Paul Cheung (rear of photo, against window), and Alissa Crevier (right front), address audience questions after the ‘VR for Producers’ event

 

CES 2017: Rise of the Robots

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When Karl Capek, the famed Czech playwright, wrote the play ‘R.U.R’ (Rossum’s Universal Robots) in 1920, introducing the word “robot” to the English language, the idea of a synthetic human was dystopian. And, frankly, most fictional depictions of robots since then have not been kind; C3PO and R2D2 being notable exceptions. But, robots are more likely to be mechanical or software-controlled agents today – helpers that are reliable and functional, not diabolical. Even with the threat of technological displacement or unemployment, humans still marvel at how our lives are enhanced and even saved by technology. We have lived with robots, digital assistants, and avatars for years, and the more we outsource our brains and our memories to the likes of Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon, we gain greater facility to personalize and even interact with our technology. This has been part of a growing shift that places greater technological emphasis on interfaces that rely on machine learning, AI (artificial, or augmented, intelligence), natural language processing, and other advances that pass the Turing test.

CES 2017 put robots at center stage in ways that we can now accept, and Chris Pfaff Tech Media was there to take it all in over an intense 6-day period. These virtual, and even mechanical, assistants are baked into experiences that can develop habits for humanity. While many pundits were touting this year’s show as “the Alexa show,” intelligent systems were predominant in ways well beyond ASR (atomatic speech recognition). Intel’s RealSense was on display again this year, with a drone camera demo that was part of the latest “hero demo” in which a single human had powered a 500-drone flight. The drone-camera demo was part of Intel’s attempt to show how RealSense can automate the process of shooting/plotting information via drone. Intel also showed off its Curie processors, and the new Quark SoC (system-on-a-chip) with high-flying dunkateers from Dunk Elite, a London-based team of acrobatic dunk artists, which captured a myriad of body measurements and sports data. Intel also showed off its latest acquisition, Voke VR, which conducted a live VR streaming demo over an AT&T 5G demo network, with Ericsson. For some, this was a bit of a thin demo: Intel and Ericsson’s booths were seprated by a mere 10 meters.

Dunk Elite shows off the Curie processor technology at the Intel booth

AMD provided some competition in the chip space, showing off its new Ryzen processor, which rivals the Intel Core i5 7600K. This is impressive, particularly in the gaming space, which should heat up this year. Some estimates show the eSports market rising to a cool $9 billion.

AMD shows off its Ryzen processor – a rival to Intel’s Core i5 7600K – at CES Unveiled, at CES 2017

Qualcomm, as always, had a huge presence at the show. They featured three booths, with the largest in the central hall touting IoT concepts, and VR/AR. Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 835 processor was featured. This new chip is all about VR; Qualcomm is touting greater depth and lower power (it boasts that the 835 is part of the first commercial 10 nanometer chip fab process). Qualcomm also had a booth in the North Hall touting its car platform; the company’s 2016 acquisition of NXP has vaulted it into the front ranks of connected car chip companies.

But, of all the chip giants, the biggest spotlight shone on Nvidia. Jen-Hsun Huang, founder/CEO of Nvidia, gave the opening keynote of CES, and it rocked the show. Nvidia showed off its Nvidia AI Car Platform, with announcements that Nvidia and Audi will build an AI car. Nvidia also introduced the Nvidia AI Car Supercomputer, named Xavier. Nvidia also announced AI car-related deals with ZF, Tom Tom, Here, and Bosch. Nvidia’s booth was tucked into a corner area of the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, next to Volkswagen (which, in a face-saving move, took Delphi’s old space on the show floor). This was a huge statement: that the company that made its name with the GPU is now bidding to be the next big innovator in intelligent cars. Jen-Hsun Huang’s keynote speech is worth watching. One line alone almost made me tear up: “Let’s make sure our kids never have to drive again.”

Nvidia’s booth featured the Nvidia AI Car Platform

Other intelligent systems and products came from the likes of DISH Networks, which probably won most heroic demo on the show floor: a voice-activated Hopper that controls your EPG and records shows for you. The fact that the demo was done in a suite that was not sound-proofed, and took in lots of ambient show floor noise, made the Alexa integration all the more impressive. Samsung showed off its SmartThings hub, with voice-activated technology from its Viv acquisition.

The big boys, Samsung and LG, went at it again this year in stunning one-upmanship. For the record, Samsung won the product battle. Its QLED displays were introduced at a pretty spectacular event at the Keep Memory Alive Center in downtown Las Vegas. The Frank Gehry-designed building, part-temple/part ocean-going vessel design, provided the ideal backdrop for Samsung’s roll-out of its latest OLED displays, which have a wider viewing angle, greater contrast/brightness (1500-2000 nits), and a wide color gamut (WCG) that actually encompasses the full range of the human eye. It has a flush mounting system with a single fiber connection to an external input box (smart idea). It was an amazing event, and it was a total display geek-out for someone like me. My old Sharp LCD client, Joe Stinziano, was there doing God’s work, as were dozens of other Samsung technical and sales/marketing execs. Samsung’s branding of QLED (a play on its quantum dot crystal structure) extended the “Q” prefix to other products. This was a huge play for Samsung, which is rebounding from its spectacular Galaxy Note 7 disaster. The QLED products go on sale next month.

Samsung QLED intro at the Keep Memory Alive Center in downtown Las Vegas, 01.03.17

Samsung is ready for its OLED close-up, in this technical demo at the QLED intro event

LG, meanwhile, won the battle of the display content. This is not news to anyone who has been to these booths the past few years, but LG upped the ante this year, with a full, immersive content “room” that made one feel as if they were in an aquarium or a planetarium. LG Display gave us a private demo of its latest products, which included the world’s thinnest (1 millimeter) display, and introduced its Crystal OLED Sound technology (clever integration of speakers in the actual display), which has already been used by Sony in its latest TV.

LG Display’s Hanbits Oh demonstrates the LG Crystal OLED Sound technology

Hanbits Oh shows off the LG Display kiosk

LG wins the OLED display content war, against Samsung, again at CES 2017

Other impressive products and/or displays included EyeLock’s retina detection system (tucked away in a prominent corner of the palatial Voxx booth), and Bosch’s APAS system, the first assistance system certified for use with human operators. Bosch used APAS robots to serve coffee, among other tasks, in its massive booth, just in front of the Samsung booth.

Bosch shows off its APAS platform        EyeLock’s retinal detection system

The North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, though, was the real show this year. For the second time, a car was introduced at CES. This year, it was Faraday Future’s FF91. This impressive vehicle, the progeny of much-questioned Faraday Future, owned by Chinese conglomerate Le Eco, showed off a 1000 horsepower all-electric powertrain which can travel more than 370 miles per electric charge. The built-in LiDAR and more than 30 cameras, radars, and ultrasonic sensors are augmented by a smart app that parks the car for you and can bring it to you from parking, as well as facial recognition for unlocking the car. All of this can be had for a mere $5,0000 reservation fee. Le Eco has some new funding, apparently, so we may yet see these beauties on the road this year. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, the real car companies showed off quite a lot. Mercedes-Benz showed off its mouthful of a corporate mantra, CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared, Electric), with the Mercedes Electric Intelligence platform, which was represented by a concept car, EQ, which uses solar energy stored at home, and wireless charging. The hippest car at the show, though, was the Mercedes Vision Van, a new delivery/sprinter van that has two drones on top, and is driverless. Mercedes also announced that it would launch its driverless freight truck, the Daimler Freightliner, by 2025.

The Mercedes Vision Van, an example of what the company calls the “cognitive car”

Honda was back at CES for the first time in years, showing off its ‘Cooperative Mobility Ecosystem.’ This included a motorcycle that has riding assist, self-balancing features, and autonomous operation (i.e., it can be called by the river). Honda showed off the way-cool NueV concept car – an electric vehicle for ride sharing that has an “emotion engine” and charges itself at the lowest rate times. The Honda Uni-Cub (best known for their use in the latest OKGO music video), a seated Segway-type transport vehicle, was a bit hit. it moves via body control/leaning.

Honda’s NuEV electric concept car

Honda’s Uni-Cub personal transport robots

Fiat Chrysler was one of many companies that showcased its work with Google’s Waymo spin-out, a driverless car ride sharing service, which will heavily feature the Chrysler Pacifica cars.

Toyota, again, showed off the coolest concept car at the show, which featured an excellent emotion detection platform.

Toyota’s ‘Tron’-like concept car

While 5G was a big technology looming over the show, not much was shown. AT&T, which holds its annual developers forum just prior to the start of CES, claimed that 2017 would be the year of video on its network. It has already planned major 5G trials this year, with video a major feature, and preliminary speeds of 1 Gb/s in initial trials.

International delegations were quite prominent this year, but mostly for the massive Chinese presence, with ZTE, Huawei, DJI, TCL, Hi-Sense and Honor as major sponsors and exhibitors. The French delegation outdid itself, again, and Eureka Park was practically a French tech zone.

The Normandy delegation – with marinier shirts – at the La French Tech pitch event, at the Paris Hotel’s French village, 01.06.17

The Swedish delegation was stronger than ever, and several Swedish start-ups, notably Manomotion, made their presence felt.

Tobias Berneth, of Stockholm-based Things to Be, with the Honor phone that he helped design, at the Sweden@CES breakfast at CES 2017

I caught up with members of the “Estonian Mafia” at the show, including the only Estonian company exhibiting at the show, Starship Technologies, which has some pretty cool delivery robots (I got a demo when I was in Tallinn last September). Starship just announced, post-CES, a major funding round of $17.2million, with Daimler AG as the lead investor.

Estonian Mafia at CES (l to r): Andrus Viirg, Enterprise Estonia; two members of the Starship Technologies team; Andres Mellik, Cognuse, and Rain Rannu, Fortumo

Eureka Park was bigger than ever this year – 600 exhibitors, up from 500 at CES 2016. Kino-mo had another way-cool display, with Pokemon Go figures, and there were more funded companies, it seemed, than in previous years.

Kino-Mo’s display was mobbed at Eureka Park

The robots could have helped the ride-sharing queues that created Lyft and Uber traffic jams outside the convention center. This was unfortunate, but will require more than robots to solve the crisis: political leadership (Las Vegas not known for its progressive thinking where non-gamblers are concerned).

Until next year, go out and buy an Amazon Echo, or the many equivalents, and find new ways to integrate AI into your life. In other words, help a robot brutha out.

Me at CES 2017, outside the Sands/Venetian halls

 

 

Ad:Tech New York Panel, ‘Ad-Tech and Content Collide: Producing in the Programmatic Era,’ Packs the House

By • Posted & filed under Announcements

The revivified Ad:Tech New York 2016 show featured a rollicking panel that the Producers Guild of America (PGA) produced on Thursday, November 3rd, Day 2 of the show, in which leading New York agency producers (all but one PGA members) discussed the trends that are shifting behaviors among brands and consumers alike.

Produced and moderated by Chris Pfaff, one of the founders of the PGA New Media Council, and head of consultancy Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC, the panel, ‘Ad-Tech and Content Collide: Producing in the Programmatic Era,’ featured Jason Jercinovic, global head of marketing innovation and global brand director for Havas; Cindy Pound, executive direct, R/GA; Tom Goodwin, executive vice president, head of innovation, ZenithOptimedia, and Raoul Didisheim, consultant with Mariana Media.

A packed house filled the “Titan Hall” in the Javits Center, listening to a discussion that focused on various topics, including:

  • AI and automation are dominating discussions among producers. How do we harness machine learning and real-time technologies for greater storytelling?
  • “Conversational content” is now part of the lexicon. How are these devices and platforms – from Amazon Alexa to Cortana to Siri and Google Talk – part of the “targeted consumer?”
  • Chatbots are the rage now; everyone’s mother seems to have a chatbot. Every VC is talking about chatbots. Is this another fad, like Pokemon Go, or are chatbots going to be a sustained part of the producer’s world?
  • The luxury sector of the economy is still robust.  The whole premise of the luxury relationship is to have a bespoke experience. How do you deliver that in an era of commoditized personalization?
  • The “cognitive” era may be upon us, but can we deliver truly “real-time” experiences that swing with societal trends, fast-moving news, or even more granular data on consumers? How does human creativity catch up to the massive technological capabilities comingout of our research labs?
  • “Targeted advertising” has reared its head again, largely from AT&T. How do you see this playing into the mix of platforms you leverage for reaching consumers?
img_7620
(From l to r): Cindy Pound, R/GA; Tom Goodwin, ZenithOptimedia; Jason Jercinovic, Havas; Chris Pfaff, Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC; Raoul Didisheim, Mariana Media
Tom Goodwin talked about how AI has created a new set of expectations, for brands and agencies, and that the industry has to manage these expectations carefully.
img_7618Tom Goodwin discusses agency expectations for AI
Jason Jercinovic iscussed the “humans behind AI” and how cognitive computing – namely, IBM Watson – has helped generate better decision-making for clients such as TD Ameritrade, where customers were more likely to honestly interact with machines than with their human counterparts.
20161103_144241Jason Jercinovic discusses the cognitive era of producing
Cindy Pound mentioned the Pumpkin Spice Latte chatbot that Starbucks set up in October, 2016, where more than 500,000 interactions yielded impressive engagement for the coffee company.
20161103_152320Cindy Pound discuses the chatbot phenomenon
Raoul Didisheim outlined the challenge that luxury brands still have with new technology, and said that the integration of human high-touch retail experiences must be delicate and seamless in order not to offend luxury customers. He said that “any email list of a luxury brand would show that a large percentage of their consumers still have AOL addresses.”
20161103_144612Raoul Didisheim discusses the luxury sector 
The audience discussed opportunities that have been seized upon – such as the smart integration of brands in NetFlix’s ‘Luke Cage’ – and possibly missed – such as Game 7 of the World Series, where no “Dunk in the Dark” moments emerged on social media (despite, as an audience member indicated, the success of Twitter’s Hashtag World Series).
Ad:Tech New York 2016 was a milestone for the digital media industry: the 20th anniversary of a show that used to be mostly about platforms and technologies, but has now recognized that th content creators are still behind what is sold to consumers. Kudos to Lori Schwartz, Kendall Allen, and the team that produced the show. It brought in many firt-time visitors to Ad:Tech, and that in itself will help shape the future of this vital industry sector.
img_4885 A view from the audience.

Adweek: ‘Growing Up the Son of a Mad Man in Advertising’s Golden Age,’ May 11, 2016

By • Posted & filed under News and Press Releases

voice-man-mad-01-2015

I was fortunate enough to have my personal reflections of growing up the son of an ad industry legend – Warren Pfaff – in the ‘Mad Men’ finale issue of Adweek, datelined May 11, 2015. The print edition had some retro fonts and design, and captured the spirit of the era. Dad would have been proud.

The full copy is below, and the link is at: http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/growing-son-mad-man-advertisings-golden-era-164629

 

Growing Up the Son of a ‘Mad Man’ in Advertising’s Golden Era

Reflecting on career and work of a Don Draper-like father

  • May 11, 2015, 12:00 AM EDT

Warren Pfaff’s work yielded iconic slogans, lyrics and campaigns for Pan Am, McDonald’s and the Marines.

There are many memories of the so-called “golden era” of advertising that are conjured up expertly by Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men on AMC Networks.

Largely, it is the effort to create a world that somehow captures the excitement of an era that stood for unyielding possibility. For someone like me, who was a small child during those years, with a father who may have been a model for someone like Don Draper, the show is an inescapable reflection of just how great that era really was.

And this is why the end of Mad Men, which kicked off its final episodes—fittingly enough—on Easter Sunday, April 5 (in the Mad Men era, clothiers such as Robert Hall would have flooded the airwaves with enticements for fathers to take their sons shopping for a new suit, or two) is an indelible reminder of what we have lost along the way.

My father, Warren Pfaff, was the creative director at J. Walter Thompson, the world’s largest ad agency at the time, for most of the 1960s. It was his work that yielded many iconic slogans, lyrics and campaigns, from McDonald’s “You deserve a break today” to the Marines’ “We’re looking for a few good men” to Pan Am’s “Get out of this country … get out of this world. Pan Am makes the going great.”

Even as a small child, I was caught up in the excitement of the advertising revolution that was occurring. The sunroom study in the house where I grew up with my brother and sister was a mini-playback studio, with an Ampex quarter-track reel-to-reel deck, on which Dad’s demos and finished product were played. Dad’s return from Seattle in 1968, where he shot the original ads for the Boeing 747 that Pan Am debuted, was epic: Pan Am toy planes and other trinkets were major prizes for someone who would soon become obsessed with the Apollo missions to the moon (something captured beautifully in the previous season of Mad Men).

One of my first visits to New York City was to visit a cutout of the 747 plane that was in the Pan Am Building (now MetLife) just atop Grand Central Station (where we came into the city, from nearby Stamford, Conn.), and adjacent to the Graybar Building, where my father’s office at J. Walter Thompson was located. New York in 1968-69 was as Olympian as it could get for a small child. We were all “going places,” and it seemed that all that aggressively positive energy was somehow emanating from a place called home.

My father’s return from the Clio Awards ceremony in 1970 woke me from my sleep. I went downstairs, heard the gleeful good news of his winning an award. When he handed me the gilded trophy, I promptly dropped it on my big left toe. He spent the whole night with me, icing my toe and foot and eating Kellogg’s Corn Flakes while we listened to the radio. He had spent plenty of early mornings with me and my siblings having breakfast, after having spent the entire night working in a recording studio or making a client deadline.

Chris Pfaff, CEO, Chris Pfaff Tech/Media LLC

The Pan Am campaigns that epitomized the Madison Avenue 1960s era were a reflection of the creative power of the ad industry. Pan Am produced an album of Steve Allen’s arrangements of the “Pan Am Makes the Going Great” theme. Steve and Eydie did the song in their nightclub act, and even Sammy Davis Jr. did a hip version of the song. Advertising didn’t need to license music for ads back then. The music industry came to the ad world for its cool.

Like many in his profession at the time, my father came to advertising as a way to make a living when the theater and other creative arts proved far less lucrative. He acted with the likes of Zero Mostel and Burgess Meredith and was successful at greeting cards, but advertising was a noble endeavor with a steadier paycheck. And in the Mad Men era, advertising was a creative business, well captured in the TV show. (Although, no creative would be caught dead wearing a full suit at work. That tie was untied, if not taken off when at work, with shirtsleeves rolled up.)

My father was as much of a restless creative maverick as anyone. He left J. Walter Thompson to start Warren G. Pfaff, Inc. in 1971, launching his concept of an advertising “cartel” with a two-page ad in The New York Times on April 19, 1971, with $14,000 of his own money. He received 1,600 letters within two weeks (only one was negative). His friend and industry muse, The New York Times’ longtime ad columnist, Philip Dougherty, had given him major ink to help push that effort along.

Dad merged that firm with McCaffrey Ratner in 1990. His office at 505 Park Avenue—with a penthouse wraparound terrace—had the largest round oak conference room table I have ever seen, and standing ashtrays filled with butts were a mainstay image. He and his small band of creative and account men even built a screening room off the reception area that was state of the art. It was the scene of a company family holiday party in 1972 where the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup was screened.

My father’s last office was at 185 Madison Avenue, across from the old B. Altman Department Store. He had the last agency to have an actual Madison Avenue address, and he moved out just a few months after B. Altman had closed for good.

Dad died in 2004, a victim of lung cancer, but he was working on ads up until his death. I think that he would have loved the portrayal of the New York ad world Mad Men conjures so well (particularly the pre-1966 era).

It would be almost like going home.

This article was originally published by IndieReader.

Chris Pfaff (@pfaffchris) is CEO of Chris Pfaff Tech/Media LLC and a founder of the PGA New Media Council.