CES 2017: Under the Radar Careers

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When you find out 36 hours before CES that you’ve been given credentials, what do you do? You make some quick plans, hop in the car, grab some caffeine, and drive to Vegas!
We did exactly that last week, making it to the 50th annual CES (Consumer Electronics Show, although officially it’s just called CES now) on a day’s notice and poking around the festivities for 24 hours or so. CES is where all the hottest and craziest new technology and gadgets are revealed to the public every year. From virtual reality to games and toys to drones to self-driving cars, all of the coolest new stuff is released here, and nearly every tech and electronics company in the world, big or small, comes to share its offerings.
These types of events usually aren’t visible to students and young career-seekers, but they can be super valuable for learning about new trends, industries, and companies; for making contacts; and potentially for finding a job. Since not every student can make it to Vegas and shell out $300, we scoured CES with you in mind.

 


 

Under the Radar Careers We Found at CES

1. Tech Jobs in Household Object Industries

A doorknob company might not be exactly what you might think of first if you were an engineer interested in wireless technology or internet connectivity, or if you want to work for a company on the cutting edge of making people’s lives easier.
But Kwikset, a 70-year-old lock and door hardware company. as we found out at CES, is no longer just a doorknob company. They have some of the most impressive and technologically advanced “smart-locks,” with touch-to-open, Bluetooth-enabled, wifi-connected, and Apple HomeKit-compatible locks. I tried one deadbolt that opens with the touch of a finger if an authorized phone is in your pocket.

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Donnie Viajar, an engineer for the company, said he found working for Kwikset particularly rewarding. He came to Kwikset from the wifi industry, where he was on the leading edge of wireless internet and router technology. After coming to Kwikset, he said it is particularly satisfying to work on something concrete and as prevalent in the world as locks, and working, as he says, to “help make lives easier.”
Andrew Xie is a Product Manager at Zmodo, another company in the “Smart Home” space that showcased their products at CES. Andrew’s educational background was in electrical engineering, but he had broader interests and didn’t want to focus so narrowly. As a product manager, he gets to be involved with and understand all products the company offers and can have a hand in marketing as well as development.
He likes working in the smart home industry because of the pace of innovation and amount of growth potential. “It’s like the wild west out here.”
He also pointed out the appeal of Smart Home for those passionate about sustainability: “Much of the innovations in smart home are driven by a desire to be more sustainable.”

2. VR a New Frontier for Storytellers

VR isn’t just for the coders and the engineers. While most of the focus on virtual reality is about making it more realistic, better looking, cheaper, etc., the coolest aspects are the things people have started doing with it now that it has been around for a couple years. One of these capabilities is storytelling – whether that’s in the form of immersive movies, explorable documentaries, and hybrid movies/games where there’s a fictional narrative, but where the viewer can immersively participate.
RYOT was one of the coolest things we found. This is an initiative under the banner of the Huffington Post, hoping to “tell the most important stories of our time” and “craft positive change in the world” by “connecting people, ideas, and stories that take you inside the action so that you become the story.” This is a fascinating new type of opportunity for aspiring storytellers or journalists, as print media continues to dwindle and online avenues get more crowded.

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3. Medical Technology in Sports

New technology means that when I got dunked over by a 6’5” basketball player at the Intel sports demo station, they could measure the exact jump metrics, lift angle, dunk force, and countless other data and compare them to the other 6’5”-er dunking over a different volunteer. Intel, UnderArmour, Nike, Polar and others had wearable tech to collect and track data as an athlete trains or performs. These aren’t just apparel companies anymore.

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In the old days, people interested in sports who couldn’t play in the pros had few other career options in sports – broadcasters, journalists, scouts, ticket sales, and a few coaching and front office spots.  Today there are countless more roles, as marketing teams have ballooned, front offices have expanded to include huge statistical and analytical departments, and medical and training staffs have increased. Now new technology and wearables, exhibited at CES, are poised to create new swaths of hybrid analytical/training/medical/scouting careers within the industry. The companies that make these devices also need engineers, coders, marketers, and salespeople who understand sports and fitness.
We saw everything from sunglasses that measure brainwaves to help train you to focus, to various applications of virtual reality to help athletes train and recover, smart shoes, and recovery-facilitating infrared sleepware [bonus: this Funny or Die fake commercial ft. Tom Brady].

4. Tech affecting medicine

If you’ve been called to medicine because of the opportunity to impact people’s health, there are many more fields available now than traditional doctor, nurse, or even lab research capacities. Tech has improved the health field in many ways. New capabilities are making medical care more accessible, more affordable, or more advanced. The budding industry will continue to demand new employees with knowledge and interests in both tech and medicine. 

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Some of the highlights we saw:

– An eyeglass camera that reads or recognizes faces for the visually-impaired wearer. (another one that connects the blind person with an “agent” who can look in remotely and help them navigate a difficult situation.
– A smart watch that can detect and mitigate sleep apnea.
– A patch to monitor a small child’s temperature in real time on a parent’s cell phone.  
– An at-home rehabilitation glove for stroke patients.

5. Data Science in…. Everything

We’re officially in the age of Big Data, which means it’s everywhere.
Music, Automotive, Sports, and everywhere else. If there’s an industry you’re passionate about, chances are you can find a data job there. Spotify had a huge walk-thru display showing off their findings and music insights from millions of listeners’ data. That level of music listener data would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. 

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See Part 2: Companies  That Caught Our Eye at CES


Matt Gwin
matt

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