News from our growing ecosystem

CES 2018 – Day Four – power cut sparks surge to the stand

Checking the news as I awoke this morning confirmed that yesterday’s rainfall was the highest on record for the area, ending a dry spell of 116 days, so no surprise it had caused such havoc around the strip. And unbeknown to us all the deluge was going to cause even more trouble later in the day, working its way into one of the huge power distribution transformers at the main Las Vegas Convention Centre. But today the weather was bright and fresh as we walked the familiar route to Sands Expo discussing our strategy for the second day of CES 2018.

The show floor seemed quieter than normal and the team quickly set up our booth ready for the earlier opening time of 9am. We decided to pipe the Handy Kanji demo onto one of the big screens for a few hours to give Travis the opportunity to capture a few more leads. This would also provide the backdrop for his interview on our second Facebook Live video which Sophie had scheduled for 10am.

Marcos and Filippo were in back to back meetings today, showing the prototype setup they had in their hotel room to some of the world’s largest audio tech companies, so Tyler had the job of setting up their stand demo. It was Tyler’s turn this morning to go off and explore the larger Las Vegas Convention Centre, which he did after taking the daily trip to Walgreens with Sophie to procure the lunch orders for the team.

As the floor was still quiet, I took the opportunity to email our network with news of how the show was progressing for Future Worlds and it was great to get a few immediate replies of support. Geoff Baker, who is one of our mentors, sent a kind message and explained that his wife had heard my interview on The Breeze that afternoon in the UK (and we also featured on Sam FM). It was great to hear that the interview had reached our network and as soon as we can extract the clip from the recording Tyler made overnight we’ll be sure to put it on our social feeds.

A few hours into the morning and the show floor was humming once more with the sound of people passionately discussing new products, collaborations and deals. The Aura Vison Labs video was back on the big TV and drawing in the crowds once more. Jon hustled the Geek News film crew over to the stand who did an interview with Daniel on his technology. Daniel did a great job and as usual the excitement instantly attracted even more delegates to the stand.

An impressive individual, Furhan Zafar, who was employee number 30 in Facebook’s new ‘Building 8’ hardware division dropped by later on. He explained how fun it was having an almost unlimited budget to develop hardware in-line with Facebook’s mission of connecting the world. Facebook have not released their hardware offerings yet and he evaded my questions over what they might be. I wonder whether they will have more success than Google who have tried a similar approach with their Google-X division but have so far fallen short of delivering a successful product.

One of the surprises today was the number of Southampton alumus who dropped by to reconnect. Al Ganeshkumar from Bose was excited to hear the Soton Audio Labs demo having been a student in the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research at the University. This is the very same research group to which Marcos and Filippo, the founders, belong. Not having visited the campus since he left in the 1990s, he was interested to hear how it had changed. One visitor, Ziu Zhu, President of Jiubang Digital Technology, explained that when he applied to go to Southampton University many years ago the acceptance email went into his SPAM folder and he never saw it. He ended up taking an offer at Surrey before the paper acceptance letter from Southampton reached him. He said he has always regretted not getting the email in time as Southampton was his top choice, and considers himself an almost-alum of Southampton as a result.

Later in the day a famous 10-year-old video blogger appeared with her entourage at the stand next door. Jon ran off to convince her team to cover Future Worlds but they flatly refused. Travis then had a go and brilliantly managed to charm them into covering Handy Kanji. We quickly put the app on the big screen ready for him to chat with the girl about the best way to practice writing the intricate Japanese forms. Afterwards we convinced her to experience the soundbar which she loved, saying it was the best thing she had seen at the show so far.

After lunch, Tyler emerged having spent the morning at the bigger LVCC site, checking out the new TVs, home audio and cars from some of the biggest vendors at CES. However, the story wasn’t one of complete success as he explained that some of the big halls had to be evacuated after a power cut which left Samsung, LG, Sony many others affected. It turned out the downpour from the previous day had resulted in a flashover on one of the transformers. The good news for us was that thousands more delegates were heading to Eureka Park whilst the engineers fixed the power. As Sophie put it, ‘the Samsung and Sony stands may be in the dark but the Future Words arrow twinkles on’.

Towards the end of the day, as I returned from making a call in the hallway, an excited Jon rushed over and dragged me to his laptop where Sophie was looking equally thrilled. They were playing the official CES Eureka Park showreel which not only featured my interview from the day before but also plenty of the stock footage they had shot around our stand.
This was another great example of brilliant teamwork from hustling the film crew to delivering the content and monitoring the channels for the end result. And that great end to the day got even better when I discovered an email shortly afterwards with a link to Flickfeeder.com, displaying the photo with Prince Constantijn from the night before.

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Reuben Wilcock

Director, Future Worlds

Reuben co-founded Future Worlds, the on-campus startup incubator helping aspiring entrepreneurs to change the world with their ideas. He is Principal Enterprise Fellow for the Faculty of Physical Science and Engineering and a serial entrepreneur, having launched a number of startups, including Joulo Ltd, a successful university spinout acquired in 2014.

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