Billing itself as the world’s gathering place for all those who thrive on the business of consumer technologies, CES is an annual trade show and conference organized by the Consumer Technology Association. This year’s four-day CES has come to an end. Following on from Part 1, Hakuhodo staff Tetsuya Waida and Kaori Abe present a few of their overarching impressions from CES in Part 2 of this report.
・Moves by companies that are set to change their business models
・The increase of exhibitors in the healthcare tech domain
・Beauty tech, where personalization is coming to the fore, and
・The future of food tech: Are meat alternatives here to stay?
Companies have been seen making moves premised on changing business models. For example, various automakers unveiled concept cars looking ahead to Mobility as a Service (MaaS), and Toyota Motor even announced the construction of a smart city.
Consumer goods are no exception to this trend. For example, the P&G LifeLab, introduced in Part 1, has brought out products on the “hardware + accessories” model. Another example is Lumi by Pampers, dubbed an all-in-one connected baby care system. The Lumi sells for $349 and includes an activity sensor that attaches to diapers, a monitoring camera, and a set of special diapers. The sensor-camera combination tracks your baby’s diaper-changing and sleep patterns, which are recorded on an app. Pampers says it will deliver six packs worth of the special diapers for under $60.
Airia is an IoT-based whole-home fragrance diffuser that lets the user control the fragrance intensity and the length of time the diffuser operates. Airia has also adopted a business model that sells the main unit for $249 along with $49 cartridges.
Opte, discussed in Part 1, and the Oral-B power toothbrush, also from P&G, are both products following the “main unit + replaceable accessories” model. The lines speak to P&G’s attempt to embrace this model as the consumer-goods business model moving forward.
The healthcare tech domain certainly made its presence felt at CES 2020, occupying one entire block of the exhibition space. We were especially struck by the large number of so-called sleep tech products. Philips, for example, has launched the SmartSleep Deep Sleep Headband, which improves the quality of deep sleep to lessen daytime sleepiness even on short amounts of sleep. The company’s SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band drew a lot of attention for alleviating snoring caused by sleeping facing upward. (The band, which fits around your stomach, apparently vibrates when snoring is detected, causing the user to turn over and, thus, alleviate snoring.)
Also in the sleep tech milieu that drew many eyes was Sleep Number Climate360, a smart bed that controls the bed’s temperature to suit individual preferences and sleep cycles. The bed allows for fine-tuned temperature adjustments, such as warming your feet to help you fall asleep and then lowering the temperature when you are in deep sleep.
In the healthcare section, there were several IoT devices for pregnant and postpartum mothers that piqued our curiosity. Some devices were tagged with such names as femtech and baby tech.
Willow, which debuted a wearable in-bra breast pump at CES 2017, showcased the Willow Generation 3 this time. The device enables discreet pumping, and users can monitor the amount of breast milk pumped with an app. Tech applications that free mothers from the many physical limitations of pregnancy and childbirth are sure to delight many women today.
Owlet, a provider of baby care and baby monitoring systems, offers such products as the Smart Sock, which measures a baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels through a band that attaches to the baby’s foot, and the Smart Band, which can measure an unborn baby’s heartbeat. At CES 2020, the company was an Innovation Award Honoree for its new Owlet Dream Lab online service. With the service, sleep experts analyze and provide solutions so that users’ babies can sleep through the night.
Sleep tech, femtech, and baby tech are all healthcare areas where no one had previously taken the approach of analyzing individual concerns in a very detailed manner and providing scientific solutions. Advances in technology have now made this approach possible, and these fields are almost certain to grow further.
In the beauty tech domain, Perfect, which provides skin-analysis and AR make-up trial solutions using image recognition, held a seminar. The company, which began with the YouCam virtual beauty app, is moving ahead with joint projects with companies such as Estée Lauder and Neutrogena powered by Perfect’s image recognition technology. Estée Lauder provides an AR make-up trial service for a number of its make-up products, and Neutrogena released Neutrogena360 just a few days ago. Neutrogena360 is an app that analyzes your skin and recommends the ideal skincare routine for you. Speaking of its future plans, the company said its goal is to provide uniform recommendations across all touch points—online, stores, and social—using Perfect’s technology.
Elsewhere, Hi Mirror and Lululab have developed smart mirrors. All told, there is a sense that recommending skincare products from image-based skin analyses is becoming the standard practice.
The rise of personalized skincare services has generated a buzz in Japan too. Similarly, L’Oréal’s announcement of its new Perso device created a huge stir during CES’s run. Like previous hyped products, Perso takes a picture of your face with a smartphone app and blends the optimal skincare formula for your skin condition on the day. What sets Perso apart is that it creates custom formulas for your foundation and lipstick as well.
Personalized skincare hardware also appeared in the startup exhibit areas for different countries. For example, Duolab, a startup belonging to the L’Occitane Groupe, showcased a device that blends skincare products optimized for your skin’s condition and even warms the preparation up to the temperature that gives the best benefits. Duolab uses new capsules each time, meaning it can offer the capsules without any preservatives. Additionally, the company has partnered with a recycling business to handle the waste generated by the capsules. All you have to do is put the used capsules in an envelope and they will be recycled. The company seems to have taken pains to design a system that makes it easy for users to continue using the product.
As the world pays closer attention to environmental issues, a raft of startups has appeared developing plant-based meat substitutes.
Impossible Foods exhibited again at CES 2020, providing sandwiches featuring a meat substitute. We tried two offerings from the new Impossible 2.0 line, Impossible Pork and Impossible Burger (a beef-like burger). The company claims the burgers closely recreate meat, and we found the flavors had absolutely none of the slightly strange taste of soy meat. The taste was so close to that of real meat that it betrayed our expectations in the best possible way.
Burger King sells a product featuring an Impossible Foods’ patty called the Impossible Whopper, the meat-substitute version of its flagship Whopper burger. We were able to try this burger too during our stay. The result is a burger you could eat from start to finish without ever realizing it was a meat substitute, if you weren’t told. To be overly finicky, the full-stomach feeling after eating the burger was slightly less satisfying than a burger with real meat, but the difference is barely perceptible. Incidentally, the regular Whopper has 660 kilocalories, whereas the Impossible Whopper has 630 kilocalories. It seems the pursuit of recreating the taste of meat does not necessarily translate into a lower calorie count.
While aiming to solve environmental problems associated with meat consumption, meat substitutes also provide options to vegans and to people who, because of religious beliefs, cannot eat certain meats. According to one person we talked with, the number of highly ethical minded people is growing faster than the market for people with meat restrictions. Impossible Foods’ competitor Beyond Meat sells products in regular supermarkets, so the ethical demographic can choose meat substitutes for hamburgers while consuming regular meat as well. The market appears to be growing quickly in the U.S. We will watch closely exactly how far this market expands in the coming years.
Click here for Part 3