It is not for the easily annoyed, impatient or faint of heart.

By Steve Moran

The bottom line about CES (formerly the Consumer Electronics Show) is this:

It is not for the easily annoyed, impatient or faint of heart.  


I have been aware of CES for many, many years. I requested and received a press pass for 2015, but didn’t make the show because my son ended up in Neuro-ICU (he is fine now) and, instead, spent a scary week hanging out in a hospital in Seattle.   

This year I made it. I wasn’t sure what to expect . . . whether it would be worth the time and expense of attending. I wasn’t sure if there would be stories worth writing about.   

It was and there were.   

I will likely produce three or four articles.  

The Top Level View

These are my general impressions, looking at the show from a senior living perspective. . . mostly.

  • There were more than 170,000 attendees this year including almost 50,000 from outside the US. It is a lot of people everywhere.

  • There were more than 3,600 exhibitors.

  • It took me 20 minutes to get my badge at the airport and another 40 minutes to get a cab. If you are an Uber fan, the multiplier from the airport to anyplace was 270% of the regular fare and you would still have to wait 15-20 minutes. Another time when I went to request an Uber ride, the multiplier was 450% of normal . . . took a cab instead.

  • It is a bit like a massive Aging2.0 event. There are thousands of people who are hoping and praying and dreaming that their thing will be the next iPad, Fitbit or Google. They never let it show, but I think there is a lot of terror in those hearts that it won’t work.

  • There must have been at least a million different wearable fitness devices being offered.

  • In the CES world you are nothing if you don’t include an app with whatever thing you are doing. More about this in a longer report.

  • My first day and a half suggested that hardly anyone was paying attention to the senior/aging population except those with acute or chronic medical needs. On my final day it did get better.

  • Because there were more than 3,000 exhibitors, it meant that one person could only see a tiny slice of what was being offered. I walked past some 500 booths, stopped and talked to people at maybe 50 or 60 booths, and never got close to big swaths of the conference.  

  • Finally, for me it was an odd conference experience. Today when I attend conferences, I know many people and going to this one was intimidating. I knew in advance there was one other person I knew who would be attending and that was it. It turned out I actually did cross paths with half dozen people I knew, but it was very much like my early days of attending senior living events.

Cool, Ridiculous, Odd and Interesting

  • It seems as if everyone thinks there is a fortune to be made in wearables for the fitness crowd. I like my Fitbit a lot and honestly saw lots of things that might be as cool but nothing that would make me replace what I already have.  

    I would also note that while we have now had fitness devices around for 10 years or more, we are, as a nation, getting fatter. The fit were fit before and the not so fit are still not fit. I am not sure all this money is doing anyone any good.

  • 3-D printing was hot, but most of the stuff I saw, was fun but not very useful. Hard to know where it will go and even harder to know if it has any value for senior living.

  • There were $50 smart water bottles being offered . . . hard to see me ever doing that.

  • Robots were a big, big thing. I have been unconvinced about their value for senior living, but my thinking is changing . . . more later.

  • Lots and lots of companies offer technology for those of us who lose stuff. I even had one company give me a device to try out. This may actually have some cool potential for senior living.

  • There were not as many virtual reality devices being offered . . . at least where I was, but there were bunches of them.

  • I have been a big skeptic about the tablets offered by Grandpad. I spent some time at their booth and, while I am having a tough time with their price point for the senior living marketplace, for seniors living at home they might be onto something pretty serious. I am looking at one of their devices for my mom who struggles with sight and transportation. The hot thing for her is a one-touch way to call for Uber.  

  • There were also PERS systems, pain reduction systems, medication reminder systems, motion systems for seniors, sleep systems, diagnostic systems, bluetooth hearing aids and so much more.

  • Finally, there were . . . I think . . . more pet-related (yes, I mean like dogs and cats) technologies than technologies for seniors.

Mostly I came away thinking there is a lot of potential for seniors, but still overall a lack of market potential awareness.