San Francisco IoT Meetup review of CES 2017

San Francisco IoT Meetup review of CES 2017


If you attended CES this year, you know two things already:

  1. Connected Everything was the unofficial theme of the show
  2. There was no way for any one human to see it all


(If you didn’t attend, Tack T’s rundown is a great place to start.)

So I was eager to catch the year’s first SF Internet of Things Meetup and see what others took away from CES 2017, especially others working hands-on to create new experiences in IoT.

I was clearly not alone in this, as more than 200 attendees filled the Google Developers Launchpad Space for what turned out to be a very lively discussion. The panel, moderated by Kate McAndrew of Bolt, featured perspectives from founders, investors, and creators in IoT, including Jon Su (founder,, Scott Jenson (product strategy, Google), Kane Hsieh (Root Ventures), Aditi Maliwal (corp dev, Google), and Stephen Hughes (Toyota Research Institute).

Topics ranged widely, from high-level speculation on who “won” this year to nuts-and-bolts discussion of how insurance and liability policy will keep up with autonomous vehicles (and other autonomous devices).

One of the more entertaining moments came early, when Jon Su admitted that the most memorable device he saw was one he couldn’t mention in public. (I googled it and I think I know, but I can’t mention in public either!) The same question brought the most personally rewarding response of the evening, from Stephen Hughes, who mentioned the WHILL Model M as a standout of the show.



Soracom is honored to provide connectivity for WHILL, and we have a lot of admiration for the work they do, so it was a true pleasure to see the Model M getting well-deserved recognition from the local IoT community. For more on WHILL, check out our connectivity case study!

Key takeaways from the evening were particularly notable in the ways that they cut against the grain of broader general coverage:

  1. If Alexa “won,” it was by getting out of the gate with APIs early in a environment where developers are eager to incorporate voice. Voice is not a magic bullet for UX (for instance, it would have been terrible for taking notes during this event), but it’s where the action is today, with a lot of use cases still to be worked out. Good lessons for developers here regarding the importance of openness and, as always, speed speed speed.
  2. The real action is in Eureka Park. If you skipped Eureka Park this year, you missed out on a wild mix of offerings from startups, OEMs, and ODMs around the globe. Not everything you’ll see there will find commercial success, but it’s the place to see ideas taking shape and the best opportunity CES offers to get a view into possible futures.
  3. CES 2017 felt overall like a year-end review for 2016. It was a great summary of developments in the space and a good cheat sheet for where we are now, but for those already working in IoT there was little on the main floor to show where things are heading.


Truly one of the more lively and engaging meetups I can recall attending, and highly recommended for anyone in the SF Bay Area who wants to know or do more in IoT.

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