01/13/2014 02:50 pm ET Updated Mar 15, 2014

CES 2014: 'Mobile, mobile, mobile'

From wearable technologies that track back posture, blood pressure and brain waves to connected cars and homes, the 152,000 attendees at this year's Consumer Electronics Show were treated to some of the most innovative wireless technologies global innovation has to offer. So dazzling and ubiquitous were the wireless innovations not just on display --but in use-- that the event easily could have been rebranded as the Consumer Mobile Show.

While many gadgets offer great fun, many more actually save lives. I was honored to lead a conversation on the coming wave of mobile innovation in digital health through next generation wireless sensors which we are implanting inside our bodies called "The Internet of You." Panelists Dr. Fran Kauffman, the Chief Medical Officer of Medtronic Diabetes and Dr. Christian Holz, a Research Scientist in the mobile innovation group at Yahoo! Labs brilliantly described the progress being made in this next powerful frontier of mobile innovation.

Among the many mobile health advances being highlighted at the show:

  • Scandu's Scout, a handheld medical device used for sensor scanning, data analysis and recording data (better known to Trekkies as a tricoder;
  • Intel's earbuds with biometric capabilities, including a built-in heart rate monitor;
  • iHealth's ambulatory blood pressure monitor that links to your mobile device and gives real-time readings; and
  • 3L Labs' Bluetooth-connected fitness insole that's essentially a pedometer on steroids, using pressure sensors to monitor everything from your activity level to offering feedback on your gait.

Wearables like these were a big hit this year in Las Vegas, but not the only popular innovations. CES 2014 was the biggest display of connected home technology - a growth opportunity within the expanding Internet of Things. Qualcomm's SmartHome display bustled with conference-goers. And Cisco CEO John Chambers predicted the Internet of Things could mature into a $19 trillion market, as 50 billion objects connect by 2020. From agriculture to manufacturing, this trend is fueling the next industrial revolution.

Now that the flash and the sizzle of Vegas have subsided, mobile visionaries return to their day-to-day work changing the world--and the mandate on Washington could not be more clear: 2014 must be a banner year for constructive innovation policy. From this week's House hearing to begin the important work of updating the 1996 Telecommunications Act to the defining efforts of a new FCC Chairman and full complement of commissioners to build and execute groundbreaking wireless spectrum auctions, the stakes could not be higher for consumers and our economy alike.

It was a positive sign that Washington's entire FCC came in full force to the show. The new Chair Tom Wheeler and the four Commissioners each spoke with conviction about the need for our government to keep the wheels of innovation moving by expanding broadband access for all Americans, moving ahead on inclusive incentive auctions for spectrum, and making progress on the all-important and necessary transition our society needs to make toward an all IP infrastructure.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel captured this consensus at CES when she said how much of the technology on the show floor focused on "mobile, mobile, mobile," which left her thinking "spectrum, spectrum, spectrum."

A decade ago, the hinge that made our mobile phones "flip" was cutting edge. Now, Americans "flip" for 21 different wireless carriers offering 4G LTE service. This has unleashed a torrent of innovation that's transforming virtually every segment of our economy and our lives.

Indeed, 2014 will be another defining year for wireless innovation, and the FCC has a pivotal role in making sure it's a definition that can proudly stand the test of time for consumers, our economy and the mobile future.


Mobile Future Chair Jonathan Spalter, a technology executive and former senior federal government national security official, leads a coalition of technology companies/stakeholders dedicated to increasing investment and innovation in the burgeoning U.S. wireless sector.