THE BLOG
01/10/2011 01:28 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

How Consumer Electronics Show Could Help End Homelessness

I'm walking among a crowd of eager techies in a cavernous convention center just off the Vegas strip. I feel like I am being bumped along an indoor sidewalk of a packed Tokyo street.

The bells and whistles, and flashing lights, almost sound like the Vegas casino next door, but instead they are the signs of the world's largest gadget convention -- the Consumer Electronics Show, or CES for short.

I still don't know how I was invited to be part of this select group of more than 100,000 electronics freaks, I mean enthusiasts, who are clamoring for a slight peak into the future of the world of high-tech toys.

I am just happy I get to feed my technology addiction.

But my passion for a just society always trumps any personal diversion.

Wouldn't it be amazing if there was a similar convention for those people and groups who are committed to addressing poverty and homelessness? I could see a packed convention hall filled with a hundred thousand enthusiasts all networking together to create innovative products that reduce poverty.

The consumer electronics industry has a lot to contribute toward helping America address its social ills. And I am not just talking about a few iPad apps that link users to a charity group.

I could see the CES folks creating a homelessness convention called "iCare" that uses the same marketing tools in hawking tiny computer toys to promote solutions to battle poverty: innovation, imitation, image, and infatuation.

Innovation is king. The most creative products typically rise to the top. Mailing DVDs to your home, made more sense than making you go to a store to rent them. A self-sticking little post-it note was much better than marking up a document. And a tiny little piece of metal twisted into a paperclip brought order to our lives.

Creative solutions to resolve homelessness are just as important. Putting people directly into housing made more sense than warehousing people in shelters. Prioritizing the most hurting people on the streets is better than first come, first serve. If creative entrepreneurs could instill innovation into traditional homeless programs, we have a chance of ending homelessness.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I see today's CES as a celebration of the latest, and most popular, electronic product on the market--the iPad tablet. There are tablets everywhere -- large and small, thick and thin, silver and black. Don't fix something that is not broken, people always say

So also in the homeless service world. If there are innovative solutions that are housing homeless people effectively, then copy it!

Image is everything. The Apple iPod took a standard MP3 music player and turned it into a must-have, trend-setting electronic gadget that is more popular than Justin Bieber standing in the middle of a mob of teen girls.

Why can't the marketing team of Apple or Samsung turn the work of ending homelessness into a trendy cause in today's society?

Infatuation is obsession. I see it in the eyes of the lookie-loos pushing and shoving to see the latest gadget here at CES. There is a combination of lust, envy, and joy. There is pure obsession for a small piece of metal and glass surrounding a tiny computer circuit board. That mania turns into millions of dollars of profit for vendors.

Wouldn't it be amazing if hundreds of thousands of Americans would be so obsessed in ending homelessness that they would invest billions of dollars, promote the cause on every Facebook, Twitter, and web blog site, and literally swarm the offices of policy leaders forcing them to house hurting people living on our streets?

Inspiration. This Vegas convention worshipping future electronic toys is all about inspiration. Inspiring designers to create even better products, and inspiring consumers to give up their hard-earned dollars to buy them.

I wish the same inspiration I see on the show floor of CES could be instilled in the work of ending homelessness.