Disappointing Digital Health Experience at CES

This was the 11th or 12th year I’ve attended CES. Living in Las Vegas, it’s easy for me to attend and enjoy the tech playground that is CES. It’s a fun experience for nerds like me to see all the amazing technology. Plus, it’s been fascinating watching the evolution of the event over the year.

When I first started attending CES over a decade ago, there was basically no digital health at the conference. This year, the digital health and fitness section of CES took up probably 1/3 to half of the Sands Convention Center. That’s a huge difference. It’s really like the digital health industry grew from nothing right before my eyes. Turns out the same is true for a bunch of other industries like 3D Printing, Virtual Reality, and Drones to name a few.

While I always get value connecting with many of the people that attend CES, I have to admit that the digital health experience at CES this year was an extremely disappointing experience for me. I did meet a few companies that I’ll write about in the future, but for the most part innovation really seemed to be lacking. I’d describe most of the growth as me too products and big flashy look at us booths.

The former is to be expected. The me too nature of technology always happens. However, the later is what was so disappointing. As I walked by hundreds of booths, they didn’t communicate any sort of unique and interesting innovation. There was a lot of flash and show, but the substance of what was new, interesting, innovative, game changing, etc was totally missing from the experience. Is that because they weren’t doing anything that unique and interesting? I’m afraid that’s the case for many of them.

Given the fact that CES has something like 1 million square feet of exhibit space, I’m sure there was a lot of innovation happening. However, on the digital health side it all felt very incremental to me. Maybe there were some really amazing innovations that were hiding. Or maybe I couldn’t hear about those innovations because the club music in the Under Armour booth was too loud.

I still enjoyed CES because of some of the people who I met with during the event. It’s just too bad the booths have headed towards sizzle and forgot about the steak.