My first visit to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) left my head spinning – figuratively and literally. To begin with, I was intrigued by the mass of humanity – from all corners of the globe – swarming from exhibit to exhibit. I was fascinated and enthralled by tiny drones buzzing around like bees, a squad of robots dancing to Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars and a mammoth paneled screen that brings ocean waves crashing over your head. But what really left me dazed – literally – was a turn in the flight simulator for the monstrous six-propellered Bell drone on display.

I had the opportunity to walk through the Central Exhibit Hall with another Itron colleague. We spotted a camera Itron deployed for “follow me lighting” in Copenhagen – perched atop the Intel smart traffic display. We gazed at a Snapdragon in the Qualcomm booth – a version of the one Itron uses for the IoT Edge Router. And then we wandered over to the giant Bell drone. Naturally, with some experience as a pilot, my colleague wanted to strap in and experience flying the machine. With no prior virtual reality exposure, I naively went along.

Six minutes and three simulations later, I had managed to spin in circles, fly through the Trump Tower and crash into the pavement on the landing strip – three times. I expect that my shouts and gasps were great entertainment for the long line of folks waiting to fly. Despite the shaky legs and head fog that stayed with me for hours afterward, I was sufficiently cognizant to observe, over and over, that many applications showcased on the floor reflected ideas and opportunities also being explored at Itron.

My visit to the exhibit hall was only five hours long, since I spent a lot of the week riding up and down the elevator and answering the door at the Itron suite where we were demonstrating mixed reality for the Industrial Internet of Things. Having folks in the elevator say “Oh, Itron is here” and having complete strangers knock on the suite door asking to view our Digital Twin exhibit served as validation that the technologies we’re exploring and the services we’re offering garner interest from folks all over the world.

Shaun Brown
Product Manager, Itron Idea Labs
Shaun Brown joined Itron in 2015, coming from a background of technical writing, journalism, publishing and parenting. Upon joining Itron, initial projects included customer-facing documentation highlighting Itron solutions for municipalities and utilities. After a six-month fellowship with the Itron Idea Labs team in 2017, Shaun was invited to join Itron Idea Labs full-time to help with project management, process development and promotion.