The annual Consumer Electronics Show was held entirely online this year. (Photo: The Canadian Press)
The high mass of the world’s largest electronics fair ends this Thursday. The entirely virtual formula seems to have cooled several companies, but others have not hesitated to give it a go.
If the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) can count on major international brands, such as Sony or Intel, a great place is given to small and medium-sized businesses from all over the world.
From this batch, Mels, the Quebec company well known in the audiovisual world for its post-production studios, presents its new flagship product: a virtual production platform. This can be assembled and disassembled as needed.
At a time when many planes are grounded, Mels offers to recreate environments in a more realistic way than a green screen can. Convenient to set your decor in Paris or New York without crossing borders.
For the president, Martin Carrier, it was out of the question to pass his turn for this only online edition of the CES.
“We are presenting a product that can meet a specific and demanded need in today’s film industry,” he says.
“The virtual has its limits”
For his part, the company president Alain Phaneuf has decided not to participate in the digital edition. Two factors weighed in the balance. First, the closure of factories in the spring, due to the pandemic, delayed his deadlines and he prefers to fine-tune the development of his most recent prototype of a self-driving resurfacer (zamboni).
Second, “the virtual has its limits”, recognizes the one who participated in a dozen online exhibitions in 2020. The last experience was particularly disappointing. After investing the hefty price, only two people came to his virtual kiosk, two people he already knew moreover.
A marked difference from the success achieved last year when the event was held in Las Vegas. His fully automated zamboni, which moves without a driver, quickly caught the attention of the media present.
As a result, his order book exploded, agreements that were under negotiation materialized and his meeting schedule was filled even before his return to Quebec.
A more profitable investment, which then opened the doors to the Maison du Québec in Los Angeles where he began to forge business links.
The high mass online
The most well-known annual electronics fair is an important place of exchange, so is participating in the digital version of the event worth it?
For Frantz Saintellemy, president and chief operating officer of LeddarTech (microprocessors for the automotive industry), the answer is yes.
“It’s high mass,” he said. It is therefore an unmissable event in which he has participated for twenty years.
His company specializes in the development of sensors that allow self-driving cars to spot obstacles in their path.
“Traditionally, at LeddarTech, we have a fairly physical and significant presence.”
By physical, he means running a booth, chatting with people on site, moving from one end of the room to the other or from one hotel to another.
Because we must understand that the playground of CES is large, even very large. “Sometimes up to two hours on foot to get to another conference,” he says.
This year gives way to an experience that he describes as “quite unique”, but no less interesting. In fact, he’s rather pleasantly surprised.
“I didn’t necessarily have high expectations,” says the trained engineer. Yet it is about forty emails that he received from day one. More than usual.
“The advantage of digital technology is that it has made it possible to make contact with people who, in normal times, are more difficult to access,” he explains.
He particularly appreciates the exchange tool that CES has made available to exhibitors.
The experience so far pleases him. He admits, however, that it does not replace being there in person. “The relationships that are built at CES are done a lot in an informal way, by going for a coffee. There, online, it’s very formal. The aspect of human relations is missing, ”recognizes Mr. Saintellemy.
This article was produced with financial assistance from the Facebook and The Canadian Press News Scholarships.