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Monday, January 16, 2017

Your Creativity Rocks!

Trade shows are marvelous places to see creativity in action. Winter months in Chicago (and likely in many other cities) feature an annual auto show and a few home and garden events. Various new products and services are fun to see, as well as many clever marketing pitches.

I know a little of the trade show world. In days past, I was in management for Gary Brown Enterprises. Gary began his company with a home and garden show and a fall version for home improvement in Sacramento, California. This expanded into other California cities. But the big prize became the involvement with the Government Technology Conference in three states. These events were packed with innovation and cutting edge people.

The one trade show that always sounds attractive to me is the annual International Consumer Electronics Show. It’s held each January in Las Vegas. Its size is mind boggling—2.47 million square feet! The single star of the most recent event was Alexa—Amazon’s virtual voice assistant. Many of these virtual assistants have become so capable in speech recognition that they rival humans in “word error rate” comprehension.

There are ample articles available to read about the 2017 CES. One I liked is from the Washington Post titled, “What 6 Wacky CES Gadgets Tell Us about the Future.”

Two of their featured wacky offerings are robots—bound to be big in the future. One is named Elmoji, capitalizing on the Sesame Street character Elmo, that will teach kids how to code. Don’t underestimate this. So much technology relies on the ability to code. My son (who works in Silicon Valley) is encouraging family members to use an app titled Swift Playgrounds that teaches coding in a fun game-driven way. Toys including Fisher Price Code-a-Pillar are moving this direction as well. The beauty in this is how it encourages creativity!

The other robot-related product they liked was a “3.5-foot tall robot designed to act as a concierge, retail greeter, or companion for children and the elderly.” It’s from AvatarMind and its name is iPal. Of course. This robot “boasts an array of software functions—emotion-reading, storytelling, the ability to carry on a conversation with a 5-year-old.” Or those of us who will pretend to be five years old.

There is always the future garage sale items that pop up at CES. I make no prediction here, but if I WERE to make a prediction, try this: the Kerastase Hair Coach. You need an app on your smartphone for this. It claims to track your “hair health”—something many of us did not even know we needed to do! Once the brush figures out your mane, it will recommend a care plan for your head. You can guess which products it will recommend.

The innovation that is most useful to our world is that which improves our lives in some fashion. It meets a need or a particular want. Contrast that image with the famed Pet Rock from years ago. The 1975 Christmas season fad sold at least 1.5 million rocks with instructions on how to treat it as a pet. Each sold for $4. The creator of this gem became a millionaire. Oh, well.

Regardless of where you work or what you do in life, one of your greatest gifts from God is being creative. And we all have it. Some seemingly more than others. Use it wisely. It can take you to exciting places!

King Solomon once wrote, “What has been is the same as what will be, and what has been done is the same as what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9, MEV)

But that was written before the pet rock.

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Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app. 

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