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Students are heading back to school, so now is the time to equip them with the best tech for focusing, listening and connecting. Also in this issue, meet the Dealerscope Class of 2022 40 Under 40 Honorees and find out what sports headphones are hot off the shelves today.

A WORD FROM OUR PUBLISHER

Back in Berlin — and In Person!

I am looking forward to traveling to Berlin at the end of August. Many years ago, when I was the associate publisher at TWICE under the great Marcia Grand, she sent me to my first IFA. I was so impressed with the show, the attendance and how exhibitors were presented. I am looking forward, especially this year, to reconnecting with longtime colleagues from all over the world, and to meeting new ones. Should you happen to be traveling there, let me know, and we can grab a beer and a pretzel.

In our Dealerscope August issue, we give you a preview of IFA — what to expect and what to look for there this year. There will be lots of innovation, content, press, and most of all, business being done on the show floor.

Within our August pages we cover lots of products and tech. We provide a look at what athletes in esports need in the way of gear, the latest gadgets and hardware. In the world of Digital Health and Wellness, we guide you on fitness headphones and earbuds, but then we also inform you on tech for audio wellness. “Back to School” Tech is also a growing category that parents and kids are starting to seek out at retailers, as students prepare to head back into classrooms. This is a growing and ever-changing category that we are happy to talk about.

Retailers get their say in this issue, too, in our annual Roundup, where they share with Contributing Editor Nancy Klosek their strategies for dealing with changes in consumer buying patterns, the effects of inflation and continuing supply-chain issues.

On our Social Media front, we feature “Tik Tok” Tech, which will help your videos be the best-performing that they can be. In a world where we consume content every minute, we help you put your best foot forward with your branding.

I would like to take a moment to congratulate the Dealerscope Class of 2022 honorees in our “40 Under 40” program. Each of you was nominated by your colleagues, and this award is well deserved. I look forward to meeting you, and seeing how your future careers blossom. You are our future — and with this group, the future looks as bright as ever.

In our upcoming September issue, we will be covering IFA 2022, the Retail Excellence Awards, the Dealerscope Audience Awards, and much more. Make sure you go to Dealerscope.com and subscribe to our issues and newsletters to be “in the know.”

And of course, we always want to hear from you — please contact me at tmonteleone@ctlab.media. Our great team works so hard to create a publication we love. We want you to feel the same.

Best always,

Tony Monteleone,
Group Publisher of CT Lab Global Media

A WORD FROM OUR EDITOR IN CHIEF

A New Kind of School Supply

I was one of those kids that loved school. I loved leaving the bookstore with arms full of fresh paper, giant textbooks and sparkling new notebooks. But back when I was in school, technology played a very small role in my education. I often think now how much more equipped, energized and inspired I might have been throughout my schooling days if I — and the teachers and professors I learned from — had access to today’s tech.

As you will see in our back-to-school tech cover story, there are a myriad of ways students can use technology to increase focus and optimize their education.Technology is more interwoven into their lives than ever before, and teachers have to use and be familiar with tech to keep their attention. According to the Pew Research Center, 60 percent of parents say their children 12 and younger interact with a smartphone; six out of 10 of these parents say these kids began engaging with a smartphone before the age of five. Nearly one-in-five parents of kids 11 and younger say their child has their own smartphone. Technology adoption starts early.

Most everyone will argue that the less screen time, the better when it comes to younger children. However, technology can be a helpful tool for teachers when used correctly in the classroom. Research from SMART Technologies shows that teachers who pair the use of technology with best practices in the classroom are 340 percent more likely to find success among their students.

Some teachers use Alexa to set a timer or play music, and an iPad or drawing tablet, especially when it comes to remote learning, is a necessity today. An Apple TV can easily showcase student work for all to see, and a wireless microphone — like the cool throwable microphone from Catchbox—encourages students to share their thoughts aloud. Teachers swear by ergonomic keyboard and mouse set ups that allow them to use their computer for longer and often appreciate earbuds for tuning out between classes.

Then there are the gadgets that take teaching up to a whole other level. Investing in a VR device can help students understand difficult concepts like physics or architecture in an innovative way. A microscope camera can display images of samples and specimens on the big screen. For teaching about robotics, Amazon sells an affordable robotic arm kit for students ages nine and up, and Arduino sells kits for teaching about robotics, coding and programming.

These new-age school supplies mean that the upcoming generations will have a leg up in the classroom, even if they are missing out on that new paper smell this fall.

Erinn Loucks Signature

Erinn Loucks

Editor in Chief

CE RETAIL TECHNOLOGY

August 2022 CE News

Amazon_robotics_mfg

Amazons Robotic Takeover | Amazon has released its first fully autonomous mobile warehouse robot named Proteus. According to the company, the Proteus robot — which is meant to move large carts throughout the warehouse — can safely navigate its way around people working in the warehouse. The device projects a green light in its path and stops moving if someone steps in front of it only to resume again when the person is no longer in its way.

Walmart Adds AR to Its Mobile Shopping App | Walmart is adding new augmented reality features to the companys mobile shopping app. The view in your space” AR feature allows customers to see what furniture and home decor items look like in any room. It will initially encompass 300 products with plans to expand to back-to-school items as the summer progresses. Customers are able to take and save pictures of what the item looks like in a space to help simplify purchasing decisions.

mixed virtual reality concept, woman hold the simulation furniture to decorate the room for management and adjust in the smart retail or furniture store company
Row of washing mashines in appliance store

eCommerce Boom Gives Way to Brick-and-Mortar | According to spending data released by Mastercard for May, online retail sales increased a meager 2.2 percent while in-store sales boomed 13.4 percent. Now that consumers are rapidly shifting back in favor of in-store shopping, companies that rely on eCommerce operations realize that they expanded too quickly. For example, Carvana, the massive online car retailer, has been forced to lay off 2,500 employees, or 12 percent of its workforce.

Will Standardized Charging Ports Be Coming to the U.S? | In early June, the EU announced a new standardization initiative that will require all handheld electronic mobile devices to feature a USB-C charging port by 2024. In an effort to reduce unnecessary e-waste, four U.S. Senators Gina Raimondo, Ed Markey, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders wrote a letter to the Commerce Department advocating the adoption of a similar standardized charging requirement here in the U.S.

Antalya, TURKEY - June 10, 2022. Apple Iphone 13 Pro and Usb-c or Type-C Wired Charger. EU is forcing all devices to use Usb-c or Type-C
Businessman trading online stock market on teblet screen, digital investment concept

Leveraging AI-Enabled Intelligent Pricing Can Significantly Boost Revenue | According to research conducted by Accenture, AI-enabled intelligent pricing can help companies increase revenue by 5-15 percent. Intelligent pricing leverages data analytics and machine learning to adjust prices in real-time in response to factors such as customer interest. The study also found that 42 percent of customers want businesses to safely leverage their data to customize shopping experiences. It also found that 61 percent of consumers believe that this intelligent pricing will lead to fairer prices.

Companies to Pay Employee Travel Expenses After Roe v. Wade Overturned | In late June, the Supreme Court released a monumental and controversial decision overturning Roe v. Wade, which has stood since 1973. In response, many retailers including Yelp, Microsoft, Airbnb, Meta, Starbucks, Tesla and PayPal have instituted policies pledging to cover travel expenses for employees who need to travel out of the state they live in in order to receive an abortion.

Rear-view a young woman in front of the airport. She wears a face mask for protection during a Coronavirus pandemic.New normal lifestyle for public transport after Covid-19

IFA NEWS

Doors Open for IFA Ticket Sales

Event tickets are now available for the international trade show

IFA, the international consumer electronics and home appliances trade show, is finally opening its doors again after a nearly two-year-long hiatus. Happening September 2-6, 2022 in Berlin, the trade show will play out its reputation as a global platform for industry brands. The concept still combines both b2b and b2c elements for a uniquely engaging showcase for both the industry and consumers. CE brands such as Qualcomm, Scosche, Neato Robotics, TARGUS, Vornado, Westinghouse, Xperi and CEDAR Electronics are expected to attend.

The IFA Trade Visitor Ticket combines what makes a good trade show visit: convenience, entertainment and success.

The ticket includes:

  • Fast lane for fast entry
  • Admission to IFA Global Markets
  • Shuttle services
  • IFA Keynotes
  • Guided tours for trade visitors
  • Free WLAN at the Trade Visitor Reception, South Entrance
  • Trade visitor reception with breakfast: daily between 8 and 10 a.m. – South Entrance
  • Conference and meeting rooms

In addition, as of June 11, no COVID-19 entry restrictions apply for international show participants. This means that all COVID-19 restrictions on entry to Germany will also cease to apply to people entering the country from non-EU countries.

The event is set to take place at the Messe Berlin exhibition grounds, which are comprised of 26 halls and more than 160,000 square meters of show space.

ESPORTS

The Tech Pro-Gamers Are Looking For

Give the most serious gamers this gear
to help them play big and win more

By Egon Sanders

The modern esports landscape has grown swiftly and steadily over the last decade, and is expected to continue apace — there were 25.7 million esports viewers in the U.S. in 2018, for instance, and that number is projected to rise to more than 46 million by 2023. On a consumer level, this has meant a widening of the market for professional- and prosumer-grade gaming hardware and accessories, from manufacturers large and small. It’s an expanding industry, and includes everything from streaming gear — think: capture cards, microphones and headsets — to input devices like mice and keyboards, i.e. the core tools of the trade for professional players. We’ve rounded up a host of accessories for the professional esports player and the millions of gamers out there aspiring to become one.

For the serious PC gamer, a solid and reliable keyboard is essential. Logitech’s aptly named Pro Keyboard is a great option: it uses GX Blue clicky mechanical switches, Lightsync RGB lighting with custom lighting profiles and features an impressive 1ms response rate. For a more customizable option, the Mountain Everest Max uses hot-swappable Cherry MX keys, which can be replaced with custom keycaps (of which there are now nearly infinite, boutique choices on the market). Additionally, the Everest Numpad can be attached to either the right or the left side of the keyboard, while the magnetic palmrest provides extra cushioning for those long gaming sessions.

Along with a keyboard, a solid mouse is an essential piece of kit for the pros. Logitech’s G502 Lightspeed is stacked with premium features, like six additional weights for customizing its feel, a number of programmable buttons, and wired or wireless connections. With the Powerplay wireless charging mousepad, the mouse is always charged — without ever having to plug it directly into a USB port. Razer’s customizable Basilisk V3 gaming mouse is a great alternative, with 10 programmable buttons, a HyperScroll tilt wheel, and Razer’s trademark Chroma RGB lighting, with 11 individual LEDs to customize to your liking (or your team’s colors). Finally, Pulsar’s Xlite V2 uses the company’s flagship low-power sensor for up to 70 hours battery life, along with customizable “skate” texture options for the bottom of the mouse, to account for individual play styles.

A quality headset is another must for pro gamers, for a number of applications: narrating streaming sessions, communicating with teammates in multiplayer games, and hearing subtle audio cues that might mean the difference between victory and defeat. Audeze’s Penrose headset is a great option, sporting a solid 13-hour battery life, broadcast-quality detachable mic, and comfy padded ear cups. It comes in two variants (for Xbox/PC and PlayStation/PC, respectively), and uses a dongle to create a very low-latency wireless 2.4GHz connection between the machine and the headset. For serious sessions, you can also connect to the headset using the included 3.5mm cable for zero-latency audio. Audio-Technica’s ATH-GL3 is another great, budget-friendly option: this lightweight, wired gaming headset comes with a detachable boom mic, built-in volume control and a mute switch for easily-accessible controls. It’s compatible with PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and pretty much every PC under the sun. Rounding out its esports lineup, Logitech’s G Pro X headset sports a metal frame and thick cushioned earcups, PRO-G 50mm drivers, and a mic made of Blue’s microphone technology, along with its host of realtime voice filters to ensure you come across as loud and clear as possible.

While plenty of gaming headsets (including those mentioned here) feature high-quality built-in microphones, ultimately nothing can beat a proper professional microphone for achieving pristine audio quality on streams. Neat’s Bumblebee II is a versatile USB mic that offers professional-quality 24 bit/96 kHz digital audio output, an internally shock mounted, 25mm condenser capsule, and zero-latency headphone monitoring with volume control, mic gain control, and mix control. For something a bit more flexible, Shure’s MV7 features both USB and analog XLR outputs, for use directly with computers and professional interfaces alike. When using it over USB, this cardioid mic even features a cool Auto Level Mode (via the ShurePlus MOTIV app), that lets you easily control vocal tone and distance from the mic. Finally, the EPOS B20 lets you choose between four different pickup patterns — cardioid, stereo, bidirectional and omnidirectional — for the optimal recording setup. Whether you’re doing a solo stream, a partner broadcast or a team stream with a bunch of people in the same room, it’s a mic built for maximum versatility.

When accuracy and consistency are priorities, you want your gaming PC focused on the task at hand — that is, powering the game you’re playing, without any hiccups. That’s where an external card for capturing and streaming comes in, offloading the significant capture load off of your main rig. Iogear’s latest offers up to 30Hz 4K gameplay capture or 120Hz 1080p capture, and the ability to pass through 4K HDR footage at 60Hz or 1080p at 240Hz. It’s able to capture content from a range of different devices (including game consoles), is compatible with broadcast software including Streamlabs and XSplit, and can also record party chat between players.

Finally, a great monitor can also be crucial for pro gamers, providing the best possible view of the action. At the high end, Alienware’s 34 QD-OLED (AW3423DW) is a killer option: with a razor sharp OLED display and vanishing 0.1ms response time — not to mention a 3440 by 1440 resolution curved screen and a refresh rate of 175Hz — it’s as good as gaming monitors get. On the other end of the spectrum, Gigabyte’s G27Q is a great IPS 1440p display that won’t break the bank. This 27-in. monitor has a vibrant IPS panel, with 8-bit color with 92 percent DCI-P3 coverage, and is even HDR capable. Oh, and the solid 1ms response time ensures that you won’t miss a beat.

Audio-Technica’s ATH-GL3 is a lightweight, wired gaming headset that comes with a detachable boom mic, built-in volume control and a mute switch.

Alienware’s 34 QD-OLED includes a razor sharp OLED display and vanishing 0.1ms response time.

Audeze’s Penrose headset boasts 13-hour battery life, broadcast-quality detachable mic, and padded ear cups.

The EPOS B20 lets users choose between four different pickup patterns — cardioid, stereo, bidirectional and omnidirectional.

Gigabyte’s G27Q has a 27-in. monitor and a vibrant IPS panel, with 8-bit color with 92 percent DCI-P3 coverage and is even HDR capable.

Pulsar’s Xlite V2 uses the company’s flagship low-power sensor for up to 70 hours battery life, along with customizable “skate” texture options for the bottom of the mouse.

Razer’s customizable Basilisk V3 gaming mouse has 10 programmable buttons and a HyperScroll tilt wheel.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • The esports market is growing rapidly and has ushered in a wide range of products for pro and aspiring pro players.
  • Wired products are often the most stable and low-latency, but the convenience of wireless products has made them popular — even for pros.
  • Streaming is a huge part of the pro gaming world, and a good steaming setup is essential for aspiring pros.

40 UNDER 40

Presenting the Class of 2022

In order to thrive in today’s shifting economic and cultural environment, leaders in the CE industry need to be flexible, resilient, creative and insightful. This year’s winners were nominated by a broad range of sources ranging the gambit from enamored industry contacts to intra-company colleagues. The nominations were then reviewed by the Dealerscope team, and our honorees were selected. In the accompanying feature, we’re pleased to present their career histories and give them a platform to share their thoughts on their career paths and the future of the tech industry. Congratulations to the class of 2022!

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114058938681_Vinay Shukla ConverseNow Founder and CEO

Vinay Shukla, 39
Founder and CEO, Endeavor Technologies

Role: Oversees growth and development for leading voice AI technology

What do you like best about your job? I like making a difference in the lives of millions of people. ConverseNow’s voice AI automates the order-taking process for drive throughs and phones across some of the country’s biggest restaurant chains. We help make life’s little moments more enjoyable, from ordering a pizza for family game night without waiting on hold, to getting a celebratory burger after a baseball game. We’ve increased the quality of life for tens of thousands of restaurant workers, giving them one less thing to worry about amid the chaos of understaffed restaurants and an industry-wide labor shortage. In some cases, we’ve helped businesses keep their doors open despite the wave of continued challenges that the industry faces.

What accomplishments are you most proud of? ConverseNow is pioneering the newest generation of AI, which is in turn completely reshaping consumer technology. I’m extremely proud of our team for creating this cutting-edge technology that’s leading our entire sector to new heights.

Who in the CE or technology industry do you look up to, and why? Truthfully, I look up to my team, whose motivation, energy and innovative thinking inspire me every day. ConverseNow wouldn’t be where it is today without its people and the culture that we’ve all created together.

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View More: http://katiemeckleyphotography.pass.us/19-glade

William Glade, 30
Director of SEO & Analytics, AVB Marketing

Role: Responsible for helping members rank well on organic search and for implementing the platform’s web analytics and maintaining data integrity.

What career advice would you give to people just getting started in the CE or technology industry? Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Also, build strong relationships with the developers. A lot of times marketers like to blame software developers for issues when, in reality, it comes down to miscommunications between the two groups. If you learn to translate marketing-speak into dev-speak and vice versa, it will go a long way in your ability to execute at a high level.

What, in your opinion, is necessary for the CE/technology industry to thrive in the next five years? For the CE/technology industry to succeed, they are going to have to leverage better digital marketing efforts in all avenues (organic search, paid search, paid social, email and SMS), rely on greater insight through improved analytics that allows members to tap into a larger dataset themselves and building up first party data. If they do these three things, they will beat the competition and stay relevant in the digital age regardless of the economy. It may not be easy, but it will be the difference between thriving and dying during the next five years.

If you could be anyplace else right now, where would it be and what would you be doing? I would be backpacking and fishing through the Andes (Patagonia in particular).

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114059712111_Taylor Whipple

Taylor Whipple, 39
CFO, One Family

Role: Partners with CEO to ensure the overall health of the organization and work diligently to ensure that appropriate financial and operational goals of the organization are achieved.

What do you like best about your job? I like that I get to work every day with a fantastic group of driven individuals committed to helping technology professionals grow their businesses. My awesome team aside, I enjoy the sheer variety of different challenges that I get to help tackle.

What accomplishments are you most proud of? I’ve been extremely privileged to help scale our organization from just a handful of employees and clients to a growing team that provides marketing services to more than 550+ businesses each month — it’s been an incredibly rewarding journey.

Who in the CE or technology industry do you look up to, and why? Ron Callis, our CEO and founder. Ron and I have worked closely together for the past nine years, and I wouldn’t be where I am without his guidance, patience and trust in me.

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114059734477_Lydia Cho

Lydia Cho, 37
Senior Director of Product Marketing, Samsung Electronics America

Role: Head of TV Product Marketing Business in the U.S.

What accomplishments are you most proud of? Being at Samsung in total now for almost 12 years, I am most proud of successfully launching +150 SKUs (TVs, printers/toners) at Samsung. These launches include the work of multiple groups across the organization — Supply Chain, Integrated Marketing, Sales, Finance, Retail Operations — and ensuring that each function of our business is fully aware of the deliverables needed.

What career advice would you give to people just getting started in the CE or technology industry? The two things I can advise someone just getting into the industry are “answer what’s being asked,” and “be hungry yet humble.” These statements are just a few words that mentors told me when I started in the industry. Additionally, never forget to “answer what’s being asked.” Sometimes when asked a question, people will dance around the answer, and it almost sounds like an excuse. I’ve noticed this when doing interviews, asking for updates on projects, and even have done so myself. It’s important to take a step back and really just answer the question that is being asked, even if it’s a simple yes or no answer. Our previous executive VP was the first to say, “be hungry yet humble,” to not just me but the whole organization, and it will always stay with me as a key motto in life. Always strive for the best and be aggressive, but make sure you are modest and respectful in your actions; I truly believe that this is key to a successful career.

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114059768412_Mac Lupton

Mac Lupton, 27
Manager of Finance, Analytics, & Strategy, Harman International

Role: Arm leadership with insights and data-backed facts to aid optimal decision-making

What technology are you most excited about at the moment? Working in the audio industry, the technology I am most excited about is LE Audio (Low Energy). I am excited to see what kind of changes this tech will influence on our existing speaker line, but I am most excited for the additional use cases, products and features that this technology will surely provide.

What, in your opinion, is necessary for the CE/technology industry to thrive in the next five years? Sustainability is both the biggest hurdle and opportunity for the industry as we move into the future. Companies must adapt today’s traditional practices and pivot into more sustainable efforts tomorrow. It is a daunting task that we as business leaders face, but it’s a noble endeavor and crucial to longevity.

If you could be anyplace else right now, where would it be and what would you be doing? I would be anywhere in Joshua Tree National Park, climbing rocks.

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114059830226_Chris Penn

Chris Penn, 39
Vice President, Client Services, Centricity

Role: Working closely with partners to
optimize their customer experience through protection programs.

What do you like best about your job? I love my job because every day is different. My favorite part of the job is working with the centricity team to create innovative solutions for our partners. I value the long-term relationships I’ve built with all the fantastic people in our industry.

What accomplishments are you most proud of? Over the years, I think what ends up being my proudest moments are when I’m able to see growth and an idea come to life as a new product. I’ve also had the pleasure of venturing into new, untapped markets with our protection programs, which are very challenging and rewarding at the same time. I’m proud of the increased customer satisfaction and loyalty our retailers have experienced by selling our product protection.

If you could be anyplace else right now, where would it be and what would you be doing? On a golf course! I’ve been lucky the last couple years that my wife and two boys have started to pick up the game, so I’m able to spend time with them doing something that I love (and watch them start to love it too).

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114059919678_JustinLiu-1

Justin Liu, 34
Vice President of Purchasing, JLab

Role: Lead the procurement and purchasing efforts at JLab and oversee product development process and timelines

What do you like best about your job? I have the freedom to focus my time on what I believe adds the most value to the company.

What accomplishments are you most proud of? JLab excels at providing exceptional value to our customers at an affordable price. I am proud to be a part of this continual focus.

What career advice would you give to people just getting started in the CE or technology industry? Try to keep a pulse on the whole world of technology. Take on as much responsibility as you can. Take pride in the quality of your work. Find some passion, even in the little things.

If you could be anyplace else right now, where would it be and what would you be doing? I would be backpacking in the Sierras with my friends and family. I would be drinking a beer chilled by the lake and having fun catching embarrassingly small trout. These awards are about technology, but we all have to unplug sometimes.

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Samsung HR Headshots

David Phelps, 39
Head of Product Management, Enterprise Display, Samsung Electronics

Role: Lead a world-class team of 35 people responsible for the full product life cycle and P&L of six display categories

What technology are you most excited about at the moment? The impact of the metaverse is something we will continue to learn about in the coming years, but the most exciting aspect for me is how it will improve the healthcare industry. Whether this means appointments from home, injury rehabilitation from anywhere in the world, or the ability to streamline pre-and post-operative processes, we all benefit from VR engagement.

Who in the CE or technology industry do you look up to, and why? Although she is not without controversy, Bozoma Saint John is someone I find extremely interesting. Not only for her career arc, which has included senior positions at some of the top tech brands in the world (Uber, Apple, Netflix), but also for her aggressive pursuit of building her brand and “living out loud.” I have a lot of respect for leaders who are willing to take risks and embrace uncomfortable decisions. If we all do as those before us did, how can we progress as an organization?

What, in your opinion, is necessary for the CE/technology industry to thrive in the next five years? The CE industry should focus on ways to become more sustainable in the next five years. I believe there will be increased pressure from consumers to align with the brands that are focused on making a positive impact on both our environment and our communities.

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114060746223_Alec Haight

Alec HAight, 29,
CEO, Pioneer Music Company

Role: Vision, Strategy, Execution

What technology are you most excited about at the moment? I’ll give you three. Firstly, I am excited about VR and metaverse’s impact on our industry. Secondly, I am excited about DV LED. I think there are large implications for this in the future, and it is going to be exciting to watch this tech change the video landscape over the next decade. Lastly, I am excited about recurring revenue technology. There are several new technologies out there lending a RR model to our dealers, and it will be interesting to see how these take hold.

Who in the CE or technology industry do you look up to, and why? I was raised by the industry, so this is a long list. Most notably, my dad has spent more than 40 years in it. He has a passion and intuition for the industry that few have, as well as a die-hard commitment to doing what is right for our dealers. Outside of that easy answer, I’d follow it up with a list of the people I’ve worked with my entire professional career in this industry.

What career advice would you give to people just getting started in the CE or technology industry? I would warn people in the industry not to think that “technology” doesn’t mean hard work. Outsiders of our industry might think that because the products we sell make lives easier, it’s an easy job to sell them. That’s not the case — there’s a lot of hard work and manual labor, especially at the dealer level, that goes into it that outsiders don’t take into account.

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114060822530_Luis

Luis Vasquez, 28
Builder Development Manager-West,
Beko U.S. Inc.

Role: Responsible for all builder sales activities within the western U.S.

What accomplishments are you most proud of? I am most proud of the growth and hockey stick trajectory Beko experiences these past few years. The entire team worked side by side to reach our goal. The motto one team, one dream has been a true phase for the Beko team.

Who in the CE or technology industry do you look up to, and why? I look up to Arçelik’s CEO Hakan Bulgurlu. His perspective on sustainability is truly inspirational. As he says, “Long-term business survival is possible only when a company does right by the environment.”

What career advice would you give to people just getting started in the CE or technology industry? I would say to align yourself with industry leaders and absorb as much knowledge as possible.

What, in your opinion, is necessary for the CE/technology industry to thrive in the next five years? The industry needs purpose and meaningful innovation. With sustainability at its core to tackle problems, we have been dragging for centuries.

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114061245163_Michael Sherman

Michael Sherman, 36
CEO, HENRI

What accomplishments are you most proud of? When my grandfather started his business, he was on his own, in his workshop in Paris. Today we are more than 60 employees with four agencies worldwide: Paris, French Riviera, the Alps and New York, but we have succeeded in still carrying the values my grandfather embodied: strong family culture and passion for our job that drives us daily.

What technology are you most excited about at the moment? I believe technologies are meant to make daily life and user experience simpler. My motto is: “always keep it simple!” The simpler and more minimalistic a technology is, the more I get excited about it. We intend to design and integrate solutions that are elegant and simple to use. We install everything but gadgets and fancy tools. We work with advanced technologies connected to complex systems. For the end-user, however, they are almost invisible, blend in with the décor, and are so easy to use that no one will guess that so much intelligence connects behind the switches and the walls. That’s an exciting challenge for me!

What career advice would you give to people just getting started in the CE or technology industry? I strongly believe soft skills make a difference. Competence and hard skills are a necessary foundation, but they must be nurtured with interpersonal qualities. Be curious, open-minded, creative, think out of the box, push yourself out of your comfort zone to always provide the best job possible, and be proud of yourself. I also think it’s important to stay humble and listen to others.

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114061256431_Dan Sheinbaum

Dan Sheinbaum, 37
eCommerce Manager, KEF America

Role: Manage KEF’s B2B and B2C eCommerce business

What do you like best about your job?

I like being able to compete in a challenging fast-paced constantly shifting environment.

What career advice would you give to people just getting started in the CE or technology industry? Listen to your customers. Too often we get caught up in the idea of aggregating big data for actionable incites, but in actuality, your customers are screaming and dying to tell you what they want. All you need to do is listen to the voice of the customer.

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114061267892_Paull, Matthew (Matt)

Matt Paull,
39Key Account Inside Sales Representative, D&H Distributing

Role: Manage all facets of several major New York City-based retail accounts, ensuring day-to-day operations are running efficiently.

What accomplishments are you most proud of? We were able to grow revenue by 28 percent over the past four years within my largest accounts, as well as increase vendor breadth across my portfolio of eCommerce-based accounts. I have also been involved in many process improvement initiatives within D&H as part of our company’s Continuous Improvement group, which analyzes and refines processes toward the goal of providing superior service to all retail customers.

What technology are you most excited about at the moment? I’m excited to see what manufacturers do with the latest emerging technologies, notably the adoption of both 5G and Wi-Fi 6. With more work-from-home and mobility comes more opportunity for retailers brought about by a need for faster, more versatile performance options.

What, in your opinion, is necessary for the CE/technology industry to thrive in the next five years? Consumers are focused on protecting their personal data now more than ever. Manufacturers must continue innovating with this in mind to encourage the adoption of new products and technologies.

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Zac Adams, 28
Inside Sale, Next Level Distribution

Role: Inside sales rep for the custom integration channel

What do you like best about your job? I love having the ability to be a resource for integrators and small business owners. I like to consider my job an extension of our integrator’s businesses where I could potentially impact their success.

What accomplishments are you most proud of? The accomplishment I am most proud of is how I arrived at my current role. I started as a part-time warehouse associate at a distributor in 2014. I’ve always had an interest in technology. With that interest and persistence, I made it into sales. After a few years, I took a position with a local integrator where I learned the trade and now relate to the challenges they face. Most importantly, this led me to challenge myself! Currently, I am back in distribution at a fantastic and forward-thinking company. My well-rounded skill set from several angles of the industry allows me to be helpful to integrators in more ways than I could have imagined.

What career advice would you give to people just getting started in the CE or technology industry? My advice would be to stay hungry to learn! If you feel like you have reached a plateau or are becoming complacent — challenge yourself. Learn a new category, revive relationships with businesses you haven’t worked with in years, and learn from a different sales rep you don’t normally interact with. If you don’t keep up with the evolution of technology, you could easily be left behind.

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Haylie Monaghan, 29
Product Manager, SHARP Electronics Corporation

Role: Manage specific product categories in the home appliance division, responsible for product launch, factory communication and daily marketing execution

What do you like best about your job? Being able to bring to market products that people will use every day in their kitchens and homes is fun and exciting. I also work closely with well-respected leaders in this industry. Seeing how they operate and learning from them is one of the best things about working for SHARP.

What technology are you most excited about at the moment? I think the voice-control aspect of operating any appliance is the most exciting for the appliance industry. There are so many features going unused by customers because they may be complicated to get to or operate. But now, a simple voice command gives you easy access.

What career advice would you give to people just getting started in the CE or technology industry? It is important to understand your products and who your customers are. Additionally, it’s important to be a forward thinker, so you can better understand who the next generation of buyers will be and what they will find valuable.

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Stacy Carty, 37
Senior Director of Marketing & Analytics, Samsung

Role: Responsible for digital, stores and club marketing efforts across Walmart and Sam’s Club channels as well as the POS, syndicated, panel and data management for the Walmart and Sam’s customer teams.

What do you like best about your job? First, the portfolio. We make the coolest products in the industry. From the Frame TV to the Z Flip, I am surrounded by innovation that makes the job fun. Second, the pace: I love that I am never bored and that we hustle like a startup. Finally, the people: our sales and marketing team is the best in the industry. They are hungry, humble and loads of fun to be around.

What accomplishments are you most proud of? While our team has accomplished a lot of big things, I’m most proud of the everyday victories that move us forward. I love seeing the excitement and feeling of accomplishment from the team when they finally get a yes out of that tough customer, or when they change someone’s mind using shopper insight data. Without the small victories each day, the big wins wouldn’t be possible.

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Reed Crawford, 38
Chief Design Officer, JLab

Role: Develop All JLab Products

What accomplishments are you most proud of? The vision our company has always been to create innovative and reliable tech at a surprising value. It’s great to see we are getting recognition for that. We don’t need any high paid endorsers to sell an audience. The products are speaking for themselves.

What career advice would you give to people just getting started in the CE or technology industry? I knew very little about this industry before I got involved. I just had this tech geek inside of me that loved to tinker in audio and electronics. There were countless trial and errors due to my lack of knowledge, but that’s what kept me going to develop and improve on the next project. The technology landscape is ever changing, so everyone is continuously learning no matter their experience.

What, in your opinion, is necessary for the CE/technology industry to thrive in the next five years? We are developing at such a rapid pace that products from two years ago seem to be inferior and disregarded. I believe we’ll need to be more conscious on how we develop new products to still hold value with customers after several years.

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Lianne Kurtaj, 33
Manager, Value Electronics

Role: Manage and perform daily operations, sales and administration

What accomplishments are you most proud of? I am most proud that we have built and sustain a business that is able to strive and move with the times. It is nice to have customers that always come back to us over the years and recommend us to their friends and families.

What, in your opinion, is necessary for the CE/technology industry to thrive in the next five years? I think the CE industry will continue to thrive because it is always adapting to new ways of doing things as technologies and lifestyles change. During the pandemic, CE products and services became even more important since many people were spending more time at home and wanted to upgrade their home entertainment.

If you could be anyplace else right now, where would it be and what would you be doing? Travel is one of my favorite things to do when I’m not at home in our normal routine. It’s nice to get away for a little while and explore new places.

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Kaylie Shaffer, 25
Senior Manager, Public Relations at Crestron Electronics

Role: Help lead the public relations team through various initiatives such as developing case study content, managing the awards program, and arranging briefings for the press and industry analysts.

What do you like best about your job? I am so fortunate to be able to speak with our customers, dealers, engineering team and members of the media on a regular basis. These conversations allow me to constantly be learning about new trends, unique installations and exciting new products. I love being able to spotlight these ideas and work with an amazing team to tell the bigger story and create engaging content.

What career advice would you give to people just getting started in the CE or technology industry? Network! This industry is full of amazing individuals with a wealth of knowledge and who have been doing this for decades.

What, in your opinion, is necessary for the CE/technology industry to thrive in the next five years? Over the past two years, we have seen a crossover between our work lives and our home lives. Crestron has always been in the unique position of providing solutions that serve both the residential and commercial markets and I have always enjoyed being able to tell stories to both audiences. No longer do these environments have a divide, but instead, we have seen collaboration technologies find a place in our homes, and residential trends, such as wellness, continue to pop up in our workplaces.

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Ashley Nichols, 32
Director of Business Development, Exertis Almo

Role: Manages a team of business development managers, whose role is to drive revenue by supporting our key vendor partners.

What accomplishments are you most proud of? Professionally, I am most proud of the progress I have made in the last eight years, starting in customer service at one vendor partner and moving all the way to Director of Business Development now. With so few women still in the management ranks of our industry, I am proud to be in my position and be able to mentor other young women who desire the same path. Personally, I am most proud of taking on the initiative of becoming the Second Vice President of Family Services of Dayton. Family Services is a non-profit organization that provides family and mental health counseling in many areas of trauma. This is an area that I am very passionate about and happy to be on the executive board of this wonderful organization.

What career advice would you give to people just getting started in the CE or technology industry? Never stop asking questions, especially the questions you think are ‘dumb’ or are afraid to ask. Innate curiosity and constant development and self improvement are important traits in this industry. Seeking the ‘how and why’ sounds so simple, but it will surprise you how far apart that will set you from some of your peers. I also always recommend finding a mentor or coach that may have taken the steps you already have, and can advise you of some of the pitfalls to avoid. I’ve had a few throughout my career and have found their input and guidance incredibly beneficial to my growth and success.

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Patrick McCarthy

Patrick McCarthy, 31
Director of New Business and Member Services, Azione Unlimited

Role: Creates success for the organization and makes members more profitable

What do you like best about your job? I think the CI industry is very passionate, and capturing that excitement is intoxicating. We are an industry of solutions, intensity and hard work coming together. My job allows me to help our dealers find success in their passion. It’s an intentionally broad statement because success in our community covers a wide spectrum. For some, that means connecting with the right person at the right time. For others, it means launching a new initiative to solve their most significant pain points. As a journalist in my previous life, I’ve always had a passion for telling people’s stories the way they want them told.

What, in your opinion, is necessary for the CE/technology industry to thrive in the next five years? General awareness is one hurdle still holding the custom integration industry back. I like to say that this industry is the last bastion of passion. Music, lights, movies, sound, furniture and design all converge at one point to turn the client’s dream into reality. We also need to do a better job wedging our industry into the education space. It’s an entirely untapped market that could set many students up for a lifetime of success. If you could be anyplace else right now, where would it be and what would you be doing?

Ironically, I’d love to be entirely off the grid in a wood cabin porch overlooking a flowing stream in the middle of nowhere Vermont.

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Chloe Cook, 28
Director, the NPD Group

Role: Partners with leading CT manufacturers to identify key business questions and present solutions through market insights, data and analytics.

What accomplishments are you most proud of? I am most proud of the relationships I have built both internally and externally in my career. I truly feel like I am an extended part of my client’s team, helping them uncover new areas of opportunity and providing them with actionable insights that they can leverage to grow their business. These crucial relationships have helped me drive company revenue, and I was honored to receive NPD’s award in FY21 as Technology Sector MVP.

What career advice would you give to people just getting started in the CE or technology industry? To stay curious and find your passion. It truly has made my job not feel like work because of how passionate I am about data and providing insights that help support key business strategies. Invest in relationships with your peers and mentors to pursue your curiosity, whether it be focused around market research or the industry in general.

What, in your opinion, is necessary for the CE/technology industry to thrive in the next five years? Adaptability. Being able to evolve and target consumers in this new hybrid world is essential. Data and insights will help consumer electronic brands thrive in the future. In order to make important decisions on their business, companies will need accurate and real-time insights to win in their key categories post-pandemic.

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Barton Moxness, 32
President & CEO, Limitless AV, Inc.

Role: Oversees operations, sales, design, onsite deployments and marketing endeavors

What career advice would you give to people just getting started in the CE or technology industry? Be patient and find good mentors. This industry is a marathon and not a sprint. There will be great days and there will be miserable days, however it is important to remain focused and even-keeled. Many of the important skills pertaining to our industry are not taught through formal education, so it is important to find strong allies and mentors to help and support when in difficult situations. I cannot stress enough how important these mentors and partners have been to my personal success, along with the success of our organization. What, in your opinion, is necessary for the CE/technology industry to thrive in the next five years? A commitment to establishing training and development, setting the stage for the next generation to take charge. This is an industry that has countless opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds globally, however it does not tend to be anyone’s first choice. We as an industry need to establish ways to promote the opportunities available to entice younger generations to consider this industry as a lifelong career.

If you could be anyplace else right now, where would it be and what would you be doing? On a world-class golf course enjoying the friendly competition of 18-holes with three of my very best friends, or alternatively, relaxing on a sunny coastline in the south of the French Mediterranean enjoying a glass of wine and a seafood tower.

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Nathaniel Pascual, 39
Director of Business Operations
at TCL North America

Role: Facilitates conversations to create opportunities for synergies across the business ecosystem; building consensus among cross-functional teams and influence decision making with leadership audiences; and develop and utilize frameworks to help structure the team

What do you like best about your job? What I enjoy most about my job is problem-solving together with different departments and team members. I get the opportunity to work with very smart individuals to achieve a goal. Each day provides me with a new learning opportunity to grow and help those around me grow.

What accomplishments are you most proud of? I am proud that through my work at TCL North America, I was able to grow my knowledge of the industry. Proud to be part of a team that made TCL as one of the world’s largest and America’s fastest-growing television brands. What technology are you most excited about at the moment? I am excited to see the progress and advancements made in the television and video industry. Not just a screen to watch movies but a smarter device that can provide a venue for more interactivity.

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Britt Leigh

Brittany Mier y Terán, 33
Channel Manager, Somfy Systems

Role: Works alongside Somfy’s teams, partners and integrators to drive adoption of motorized solutions, through mutually developed integrations, specifier support and thoughtfully designed products.

What technology are you most excited about at the moment? I’m fascinated by blockchain technology and how decentralized application architecture might influence the professionally, and personally, installed smart home. I’m also interested in how decentralized governance might affect not only professional trade organizations but also manufacturing of products made for niche markets, like the CE channels.

What career advice would you give to people just getting started in the CE or technology industry? Be curious, ask questions and participate. The value of the insights learned and relationships you can establish at trade events, buying group get-togethers, and regional shows add a dimension to this industry that can easily be missed when laser focused on day-to-day growth.

What accomplishments are you most proud of? The two tiny humans that inspire me to look at the world, and my contributions to it, from a new perspective every day. Regarding my work life, definitely this one! Being recognized in this program is an entirely unexpected honor. I’m also incredibly proud of earning my WELL AP last year and being awarded the title of “Woman to Watch” at the 2022 Legacy Awards at CES.

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Sam Roney

Sam Roney, 34
Managing Member, Dekoni Audio LLC

Role: President/Operations Manager

What do you like best about your job? Going to trade shows and hearing from end users how much they enjoy our products.

What career advice would you give to people just getting started in the CE or technology industry? Look for problems people have, and solve them with your product/service!

What accomplishments are you most proud of? I oversaw development of our Airpods Pro tips, which were first to market in the U.S.

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Rachael Hinds

Rachael Hinds, 30
Senior Marketing Manager, Peerless AV

Role: Responsible for developing and executing integrated marketing campaigns for product launches, trainings, industry events and more. Develop key initiatives and strategies, including those for brand positioning and public relations.

What technology are you most excited about at the moment? I’m currently very interested and excited about the continual advances in AI technology that will help to craft the customer experience in new and innovative ways, even more than it does today.

What do you like best about your job? The opportunity to work on a variety of different projects, big and small, and that no day is the same. Whether tasked with creating a robust campaign for a new product line, refreshing copy and graphics for a landing page, or revamping a training program, I am given the opportunity to use my creativity and passions to further not only the brand and its success but also myself personally and professionally. I am always learning something new with each project.

What career advice would you give to people just getting started in the CE or technology industry? Don’t settle for less than what you deserve. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Find yourself a mentor or two. Be confident and take risks. Continue to grow your network. All of these things will help you find your true passion, which may end up being something totally different than when you first started!

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Lesley Rohrbraugh

Lesley Rohrbaugh, 37
Director of Research, Consumer Technology Association/CES

Role: Responsible for leading, coordinating and executing aspects of consumer, B2B and strategic research programs (international and domestic) across all technology categories at CTA, as well as developing overall research strategy and project planning.

What technology are you most excited about at the moment? The advancements within the digital health realm over the past few years have been incredible. For years, sentiment shows consumers want to embrace products that will allow them to take their health into their own hands. Through health-related innovations, we’ve seen what I like to call “home health hubs” begin to emerge where people can receive real-time treatment in the comfort of their own homes as well as utilizing preventative means from digital therapeutics to connected exercise equipment to mental wellness apps on our mobile devices.

What career advice would you give to people just getting started in the CE or technology industry? One of the most wonderful ideations within the technology industry is the persistent want and need for creation: creation of new solutions for our ever-changing world such as climate-related technology; creation of new “universes,” and creation of products we never even knew could exist. For anyone new to the industry, remember to be open-mind when it comes to innovation — although a product might be in its infancy, let your mind wander to think about what could be in the future.

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Natasha Parikh, 32
Vice President, Business Operations
and Strategy, Squaretrade, an Allstate Company

Role: Owns service delivery and supplier partnerships across a wide variety of consumer electronics protected by Allstate Protection Plans. Responsible for business strategy, including building new capabilities as the company expands protection offerings for new product verticals.

What accomplishments are you most proud of? We had quite a few challenges with global supply chain shortages during the peak of the pandemic. I was able to partner with our suppliers to creatively deliver service despite the market challenges. It was an incredible effort across teams to continue to deliver industry leading service. Being able to lead these efforts and see the positive feedback from our customers was very rewarding.

What technology are you most excited about at the moment? I am very excited about technology for good. Building a more sustainable and inclusive ecosystem powered by technology is critical. Providing access to resources for developing countries and focusing on environmental initiatives with advancements in technology are incredibly exciting.

What, in your opinion, is necessary for the CE/technology industry to thrive in the next five years? Continuing to push the status quo and innovate are imperative for this industry to thrive. The industry should stay customer obsessed and continue to make people’s lives better and easier.

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Matt Stoner

Matt Stoner, 34
Director of Corporate Analysis & Purchasing

Role: Sales and purchasing forecasting, reporting and analytics

What, in your opinion, is necessary for the CE/technology industry to thrive in the next five years? We need to keep finding ways to show the current and coming generations the difference between high quality and low quality electronics. Many people have never heard the difference between a Hifi-Speaker and a cheap bluetooth speaker. Once you hear the difference you will never go back!

What career advice would you give to people just getting started in the CE or technology industry? Even if your position doesn’t deal specifically with the end-user. Approach every problem by considering how whatever you are doing will impact them and work backwards. You will find the right answer.

If you could be anyplace else right now, where would it be and what would you be doing? I would be in the middle of a remote country with my wife, kids and ZERO access to internet or my phone. Probably a country like Myanmar or somewhere in Asia.

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Vlad Grodzinskiy, 35
Director of Product Development, Premium Audio Company

Role: Leads a team into the future with new products in audio under the PAC audio brands.

What do you like best about your job? The job of product development is a constant test and reminder that nothing is ever perfect, or at least not the first time you see it. The balance, trade-offs along the way and positive friction within the team on the way to product launch is exciting, thrilling and multifaceted. Ultimately, delivering products the team is proud of to customers that can’t help but smile when they experience them is the best part of the job.

Who in the CE or technology industry do you look up to, and why? The people around me. When it comes down to it, as a product developer you have to be a sponge: constantly learning, listening, absorbing and turning all of those inputs into actions. The best ideas come from visionaries, but without people to turn that vision into reality it will always stay a napkin sketch.

What, in your opinion, is necessary for the CE/technology industry to thrive in the next five years? Collaboration. The industry has all the pieces it needs to innovate and create incredible things, but we have to do it together. An amazing amount of inventions are taking things that already exist and piecing them together in beautiful ways. Look back at some of the biggest companies formed in the last decade: hailing a car, booking a room, finding a home or making a call. All things we could do before yet completely different.

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Jessica Mott, 34
Sr.. Brand Manager, Séura

Role: Develops and executes marketing plans to build brand awareness and introduce product innovations to the marketplace.

What do you like best about your job? My colleagues are fantastic. They make my job more enjoyable and rewarding. At Séura, we have a great team in place for developing amazing products, marketing campaigns, sales tools, product resources and so much more.

What accomplishments are you most proud of? Since I started at Séura, it’s been fun to see the tremendous growth that the company has experienced. I’m proud to be part of a team that developed numerous award-winning products, expanded into new sales channels and improved our digital presence with online tools for resellers.

What technology are you most excited about at the moment? Séura Lighted Mirrors are making big advancements with new COB LED technology that provides brighter, more energy-efficient and more uniform light than ever before. It’s exciting to see the improved user experience with better task lighting at the mirror and higher CRI that closely replicates sunlight and helps improve your wellbeing.

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Brett Provenzano, 31
Vice President, Electronic Custom Distributors

What career advice would you give to people just getting started in the CE or technology industry? In this industry, we sell excitement and passion for the best in audio video experience. The more you learn about the products and solutions, the more passionate you can be when presenting them to your customer and that passion will carry to the end user, who will share the experience with family and friends. The sharing of those experiences will drive the demand for technology and business growth forward!

What do you like best about your job? I enjoy working with dealers to provide solutions that make their businesses run faster and more efficiently. We are blessed to have dealers who partner with us by providing feedback on how to improve our products and services. From idea to implementation, seeing the improvements take shape is really rewarding and what pushes us to keep striving for excellence.

If you could be anyplace else right now, where would it be and what would you be doing? Time with the family is really special to me. I have a daughter who is a little over a year, and watching her grow and learn daily is very rewarding. I would say that she enjoys the A/V system in our home more than anyone else!

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Sonia Hernandez

Sonia Hernandez, 32
Business Development Manager, Crestron

Role: Supports Crestron’s dealers, design build partners and homeowners and educate these stakeholders about smart home technology products and solutions

What technology are you most excited about at the moment? I love everything about health and wellness so the thought about developing products that support this value is very exciting to me! Our new tunable light fixtures will support improved health and wellness in the home. With Crestron Home, homeowners will have complete control of their lights including the hue, saturation, color and intensity. Homeowners can also synchronize Crestron’s LED light fixtures with their natural circadian rhythm or match the natural light outside using our new Crestron SolarSync sensor. The SolarSync sensor is an outdoor sensor that communicates the outside color temperature to Crestron Home in real time.

What career advice would you give to people just getting started in the CE or technology industry? Firstly, if you are just getting started in the technology industry, welcome! This is an amazing industry to represent and learn from. And secondly, I encourage you to be an open book. Absorb everything there is to learn and do not be afraid to ask questions. This is my third year in the automation world, and I have never felt more empowered to be myself. It is amazing to be surrounded by people who believe in me and seek to pay it forward every chance I get.

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Paul Richards

Paul Richards, 35
Chief Revenue Officer, PTZOptics

Role: Leads the marketing team and coordinates efforts between engineering and sales

What do you like best about your job?

Our company allows our team the freedom to be creative and together become a group of thought leaders in the AV and live streaming industry. A prime example is our in-house influencer brand StreamGeeks, which is growing quickly partial because it’s unhindered by corporate red tape.

What career advice would you give to people just getting started in the CE or technology industry? Continually invest in your self by researching the technology you work with. Technical information can get boring, but maybe that an opportunity for you to translate technical capabilities into real world applications.

What, in your opinion, is necessary for the CE/technology industry to thrive in the next five years? Software, apps and the cloud. Custom made apps are better than web-interfaces in the same way cloud-based software is often better than on-premise software solutions. Great consumer electronics should have multi-platform control options for users on any device, anywhere to be successful and relevant in today’s modern market.

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samanthaverrier

Samantha Verrier, 34
Senior Manager, Creative Marketing – Events, Samsung

In her nearly 10 years at Samsung, Samantha Verrier has welcomed every new challenge and role, making a positive impact on several business units in the process. She started off managing events & tradeshows for Samsung’s enterprise sales before being promoted to leading the commercial Display division’s event team. Her group’s success meant more opportunities on the Home Entertainment and Digital Appliances teams, and last year she was given the task of leading creative marketing at events & tradeshows for the Consumer Electronics division. It’s no easy task managing more than 50 events throughout the calendar year, but Sam’s team has shown tireless enthusiasm in creating immersive experiences to demonstrate Samsung’s latest technological achievements.

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Sarahbeggs

Sarah Beggs, 38
Director Channel Marketing, Crestron

Role: Manages global market strategies and team

What do you like best about your job?

The ways we innovate and provide technology solutions that elevate businesses and establish industry trends. More importantly, I like being surrounded by talented colleagues who share the same vision.

What technology are you most excited about at the moment? Augmented reality and virtual reality are an exciting step forward for the sector. With a challenging supply climate, these offer a visual solution for end users when deciding upon key technology.

Who in the CE or technology industry do you look up to, and why? Bill Gates for his rapid innovation and brilliant mind.

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Molly-Putnam

Molly Putnam, 34
Vice President, Global Analytics, NPD Group

Role: Partners with manufacturers, retailers and platforms to deliver prescriptive analytics throughout all stages of the research journey.

What do you like best about your job?
The people and the culture. It’s why I’m excited to come to work every day! We’re in a fast-paced industry and we’re constantly faced with new challenges. It’s critical to continuously improve and innovate to overcome these challenges and to be the best partners to our clients.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?
For me, it’s the combination of chances that I’ve taken that have led me to be where I am now. I worked hard in school, sometimes with two or three jobs at a time to pay for expenses. While there were times I wanted to give up, I recognized that each of those experiences presented new opportunities, like finding NPD. Because of these choices, I’ve had the opportunity to acquire a lot of different experiences that have shaped who I am today.

What, in your opinion, is necessary for the CE/technology industry to thrive in the next five years? For a while, I’ve been fascinated with the significant changes in shopping behavior. While technology fuels the ability to change the way consumers shop for products and services, I feel the technology industry has yet to connect with consumers (or meet them where they are at), the same way that other industries have.

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NealEllsworth

Neal Ellsworth, 36
Director of Product Management, RTI

Role: Leads a team responsible for all aspects of creating and launching great products within the audio and video categories.

What technology are you most excited about at the moment? Video surveillance has always excited me. It’s a little scary to think about at times and must be implemented correctly to add value. Video surveillance provides a high sense of security by being able to see what’s around your home or business. More importantly for a control company, it can change the way your life is automated. There are too many use cases to list, but using analytics or AI can make a more seamless experience for all.

What career advice would you give to people just getting started in the CE or technology industry?

Be curious and take every opportunity to learn. Explore your ideas or the ideas brought to you. Either a great product/plan will come out of it, or you will learn something valuable.

What, in your opinion, is necessary for the CE/technology industry to thrive in the next five years? A hot topic for the last year has been supply chain and logistics. Whether it’s component shortages, increased cost or delays in delivery, every hardware company is facing issues and they will continue to face them for the next few years. It could keep the industry from reaching its full potential over the next five years.

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KellyZhou

Kelley Zhou, 35
Director of Branding at HISENSE USA

Role: Responsible for the brand strategy and creative vision for Hisense consumer marketing in North America.

What do you like best about your job? I’ve been very lucky in being part of a group with great leadership at the top that fully trusts my team to push the envelope creatively in ways that are very far removed from what would be deemed “typical” in the CE industry. Being able to help lead the vision and creative direction behind our brand in the U.S. has been an absolute privilege.

What technology are you most excited about at the moment? Augmented and mixed reality are what I’m most excited for. The future is being able to see and immerse ourselves in the world around us even as we simultaneously interact with a virtual landscape. One foot in the real world, and the other in an imaginary place — that’s giving me goosebumps just thinking about it! As we at Hisense are in the business of bringing immersive escapes to the living room, this next frontier will be something we’ll be keeping a close eye on.

What, in your opinion, is necessary for the CE/technology industry to thrive in the next five years? New ideas and someone daring to execute on them. It’s been awhile since the last paradigm shift, so I’d say we’re due. Who’s going to change the game for everyone with the next “iPhone” level type reveal? Maybe it’s one your readers? Maybe it’s us. Whoever it is, I’m ready to be wowed.

SOCIAL MEDIA

TikTok Tech

Taking advantage of the
not-so-secret world of TechTok

By Brenda Thelusca

TikTok has a wide audience of users and can be used for marketing or just pure enjoyment, or in some cases, both. One recent emerging trend has mixed aesthetic with marketing. Some accounts on TikTok have users showing off small tech appliances they use around their homes or giving honest reviews of certain tech products. Instead of describing the product and saying the brand, the user just shows the product in action. While the video plays there is no background music and all the viewers hear is the noise the device makes while in action. While reviews give their opinion of the device, others just show off the device without giving any information.

These types of videos receive millions of views and thousands of comments asking about the products. The creator of the video often provides a link to whoever asks or has a link on their page to help users find that one product they need to make their life easier. Famous accounts like My Korean Home on TikTok have more than a million followers and the videos mainly highlight smart home appliances or gadgets.

The strange thing about these videos is that they can easily capture consumers’ attention because it feels relaxing to watch. At first, when I came across these videos, I thought it was someone who was showing off their fancy expensive appliances that no one could find or afford. But after doing some more digging, I saw that the page is a consumer electronics retailer that sells smart home appliances and more. There was a wide range of connected appliances — like a nightstand with a built-in wireless charging surface — that I never even knew existed. If other consumer electronics retailers started making similar TikToks, it could increase their sales as well.

Samsung has already sent its products to tech pages on TikTok to try out and give honest reviews. The creator @Ellyawesometech created a TikTok showing off the Samsung Jet Vacuum cleaner and even said that they would keep the product if they could. They joked that Samsung was not going to receive its review unit back because they couldn’t part with it. When consumers see people fawning over products and giving rave reviews, it creates awareness and piques curiosity. Sometimes tech influencers aren’t the only ones trying out products; regular TikTok users take matters into their own hands and give their own honest opinion.

One tech influencer to follow on TikTok is My Korean Home, which has more than a million followers and highlights smart gadgets and tech.

The hashtag TechTok has more than 12 billion views on TikTok and includes tech reviews, tips and information on new products.

Another TikTok creator, Parker Burton, gives in-depth reviews on Android products and compares them to other company products as well. This user created TikToks that compared the photo quality of the Samsung Galaxy 22 and the iPhone 13. Now viewers can quickly see a comparison between the two phones that they wouldn’t be able to do on their own. While this is a good marketing tactic on the retailer’s side, it’s also helpful to the consumer. Each consumer has different lifestyles and needs, so finding the product that fits best can be difficult; no one tests out 50 different products until they find the right one. People want to see the products in action and how they handle certain tasks.

Technology is a popular topic on TikTok, and the hashtag TechTok has more than 12 billion views on TikTok. Based on this, it’s safe to say that technology is popular on social media, and TikTok in particular. Even though it’s not the first thing people search for on social media, there’s an audience interested in new technology. Consumer electronics retailers should take advantage of the powerful influence that social media platforms have and start showing their products in action.

RETAILER ROUNDUP

Mastering
the Momentum
at Retail

As COVID abates, dealers, faced with supply-chain issues, inflation and changed consumer behaviors, tell how they’re fine-tuning sustainable strategies for the future.

COMPILED BY NANCY KLOSEK

Dealerscope Q&A Feature

The Effects of Long-term COVID

The ongoing pandemic has required dealers to make many quick pivots affecting (among other things) operations, personnel and inventory management. What are some of the biggest changes you have had to make — and do you foresee having to make any more adjustments soon?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tom Campbell,
Corporate Director/Chief Technologist,
Video & Audio Center, Los Angeles, Calif.:

It’s a continuously evolving situation. I give Video & Audio Center’s co-owner, Joseph Akhtarzad, a lot of credit. He’s a visionary. When COVID first hit, he predicted product shortages, so he opened two additional warehouses and ordered additional product, especially in the TV and monitor categories. He felt there would be an increased demand, as people spent more time at home entertaining themselves and their friends there. We were prepared to some degree for that, and that was the direction Joseph took.

DS0822_RetRdup_NEW_David Pidgeon Starpower Headshot

David Pidgeon,
CEO, Starpower, Dallas, Texas:

We had already made changes going into COVID, moving into the higher luxury category. COVID allowed us to actually focus even more there, and to change our marketing approach to zero in on our customers directly, and to not do as much widespread marketing. That’s been a big help. We’ve also been able to raise the [average ticket] sizes of our orders, and we are focusing even more now on taking advantage of working all our companies together [Starpower, focused on A/V; Ed Kellum & Son, focused on appliances; StarFloors flooring; and Star Interior Resources, focused on cabinetry and construction], rather than working each of them individually; they aren’t siloed.

DS0822_RetRdup_Leon Temiz_Electronics Expo

Leon Temiz,
CEO, Electronics Expo, Wayne, N.J.:

We made adjustments, and we did pretty well, as everybody else did during COVID, with people tending to buy more online and not visiting stores during COVID. But after COVID [lessened], everything has opened up, and retail in-store is better, with people visiting the stores. They’re coming back in much more than during the [height of] COVID times. Still a little challenging is traffic – but it’s better than it used to be.

DS0822_RetRdup_Robert Zohn_Value Electronics

Robert Zohn,
President & Founder, Value Electronics, Scarsdale, N.Y.:

COVID has affected our business in many unexpected ways. First is our business has increased since COVID became a pandemic, which is now 2 1/2 years ago. As more people are staying home and not spending money on vacations or other entertainment, many are upgrading their TVs and audio systems. Premium audio and TV are some of the best, if not the best and most used, forms of home entertainment. The biggest spike is among the A/V enthusiasts, as they are the most cognizant of their A/V equipment. But this new spike in A/V business has reached all price tiers of consumers who are now upgrading to the next price category to further enhance and enjoy their entertainment during the increased time at home.

Dealerscope Q&A Feature

Supply-Chain Issues and Pricing

Which product categories have been hardest hit in terms of receiving adequate supplies to meet demand? And what is most disruptive about this situation – product supply (sufficient or insufficient) or pricing (has inflation affected electronics and appliance sales – and have you had to adjust your prices downward to attract buyers)? When do you expect the situation to improve?

Zohn: Though the pandemic is winding down, the impact is going to be long term on appliance industry. Consumer behavior has gone through a sea of change in last two years. There is much more focus on the home, and that will continue to drive the business forward.

In 2021 the supply chain was our main issue, as compressors, harnesses and other critical components were out of sync with production demands. Currently, most critical components are available, but now the factories are struggling with back-order management and logistics challenges. Moreover, consumer demand is softening at major retail channels. One way we are managing the chaos is to smooth out our demand signal to our manufacturing partners. A level-loaded signal and forecast ensures production flow for our channel. Finally, we are carefully watching inventory levels and are prepared to respond.

Campbell: [Hardest hit in supply have been] custom installation components – such as switchers, interconnects, all the products that let you connect all this technology. As people are wanting larger and larger sets, we’re finding demand has really skyrocketed for screens that are 65 inches and up. And that’s why manufacturers are coming out with larger and larger screens. However, even with inflation, you’re seeing [TV] price erosion. It’s very interesting that you’re seeing price points on these jumbo screens, 80-plus inches, that are very reasonable – almost incredible. That can be a challenge for the industry, and we’ll see where this goes.

Temiz: Supply chain has gotten better. Vendors are stepping up and in some of the categories, there’s actually good inventory available. In certain categories like audio receivers there are still shortages. But in categories like Bluetooth, headphones, some accessories products and speakers, there’s plenty. What we also see lately is some manufacturers have started adding IRs (instant rebates). That really shows that they have enough inventory, because in the [peak] COVID times, there weren’t manufacturers doing rebates.

Pidgeon: All categories [are affected]. [There are] price increases from every manufacturer. All of them have taken them, and some have taken not one, but two, three, and four increases [over the pandemic period]. And then, there’s getting product in a timely fashion, and spending a lot of time you didn’t have to in the past on inventory, and figuring out when and how you’re going to get the merchandise. That’s been a big change, and I don’t see that changing for at least the next 18 to 24 months.

Dealerscope Q&A Feature

Content Streaming’s Effect on Sales

Content streaming as a consumer behavior has come to the forefront in COVID times — and gaming has risen in popularity as well. How have these trends influenced certain product categories’ sales (TV purchases, game console purchases, and any other categories that come to mind)?

Zohn: Gaming consoles and streaming music and video content continues to spike in popularity. The custom installation (CI) dealers have become a more important vendor to the end users as they configure and set up all of the equipment in the system. CI dealers like us supply streaming products and get everything connected to the home network, configure the streaming services and all of the capabilities, e.g., access and navigating and voice control. Home and business video conferencing on several platforms has also grown exponentially.

Pidgeon: It doesn’t affect us as much except for the purchasing of TVs for gaming. It’s not just with gaming, though; I think it’s with movies and things that people are getting used to pulling down [from streaming sources]. Those who are most concerned are the movie theaters because people are used to being at home. Theaters may temporarily be getting a lift [in their businesses] because people are trying to get out of their houses after being trapped for so long. But once you get past that, think about how easy and quick it is to download a movie in the home, and how quickly new releases are available.

Campbell: Manufacturers have done an excellent job of having streaming built into the new TVs. It’s one of the first questions customers ask us about [in features]. Streaming, even of first-run movies in many cases, is instant. The physical ergonomics of the set, along with its picture clarity, and then streaming capability, are all important. They also realize how important audio is, and how important great sound systems are. You have to go into a physical location to experience that.

Dealerscope Q&A Feature

Crystal Ball Gazing

Looking to the future, what is your business shaping up to be in 2023? Will it look similar to pre-COVID times, or be something completely unique, shaped by the challenges of COVID times?

Temiz: Right now, we’re doing well because we’re staying on top of inventory. Some industries like restaurants really got hurt with COVID, but it was a good time for our industry because people spent money that they would have spent going on vacation, or spent it on their home environments – and electronics was part of it.

Pidgeon: Business will be better for us in future because of the fact that we’ve targeted our customer and we know who that is – and that we’ve pushed our luxury-level services even higher. And we’ll continue to do that, forwarding that agenda. Hopefully, in the after-COVID period, we’ll get back to ordering inventory the way we used to be able to order it, and not worry about ordering extras for in case we run short.

Campbell: Retail is evolving, but those who do not evolve will perish. You have to evolve. We want our customers, when they come in, to feel comfortable [during COVID]. Now masks are optional these days, but making sure of the safety and continued good health of our employees and our clients is important. If they want to listen to headphones, we clean them in front of them before they put them on, and they’re cleaned and sanitized after they take them off. It’s the same with handling TV remote controls.

Zohn: We’ll soon see more video conferencing cameras, microphones and interconnect equipment in addition to more services. The trend towards larger TVs will continue as well as growth in the UST (ultra-short-throw) projector market and more dedicated home cinemas.

UNBOXED

Adapting to
Audio Surroundings

Listen Out with 1MORE EVO Headphones

By Leontine Dixon

If COVID-19 taught us anything, it’s our need to stay connected. Our workplace and lives shifted online, and technology adapted to our demands: Zoom took center stage; computers improved; we bought ring lights and headphones; we spent more time texting and on social media. We all learned how to stay connected to the world by connecting to our technology. However, we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our connection to technology as we shift back to in-person activities and rekindle our human connections face-to-face. That’s where 1MORE EVO earbuds come into play. 1MORE EVO headphones deliver Hi-Fi sound with adaptive active noise cancellation (ANC), so users can stay connected to the world and comes equipped with six mics for those still working over zoom.

It Works:

As I unboxed the 1MORE EVO headphones, I was shocked at its ability to balance the aesthetic with the informational. Sketches of the headphones and its various features artistically coat the box’s interior but even more eye-catching is the headphone’s sleek, matte case.

Setting up the headphones requires just the click of a button. Packaged fully charged, all you do to pair the headphones to a device is press and hold the pairing button for five seconds while the earbuds remain in the case. The LED flashes white before entering into pairing mode. 1MORE comes equipped with the 1MORE Music App, which will automatically begin working after you pair your earbuds to your phone. To receive a personalized sound profile, take the SoundID test in the app to maximize your listening experience.

EVO delivers high-quality sound through their 10mm dual driver and balanced armature. In simpler terms, dual drivers mean the headphones have two speakers. One speaker handles the bass, and the other handles high and mid-frequencies, which create a high-quality, full-bodied audio experience.

On the other hand, balanced armatures use electricity to vibrate a reed balanced between two magnets. The electric currents travel to a stiff aluminum diaphragm, which produces a sound similar to a wind instrument. All in all, the balanced armature enables EVO to provide unparalleled sound strength and clarity.

Noise Cancellation: Both Outside and Inside the Headphones

1More sets itself apart with its adaptive ANC and dual-mode transparency. EVO constantly detects ambient noise and automatically changes its noise cancellation strength based on the environment. In addition to the adaptive ANC, users can manually switch between noise-canceling modes. For instance, those relaxing at a coffee shop can opt for the milder ANC mode, which balances ambient noise and in-ear pressure. Cyclists constantly battling wind can opt for the Wind Noise Resistant mode, which suppresses any wind noise. 1MORE EVO delivers up to 42dB of noise cancellation to enhance any sound experience.

Not all of us want to cancel out the world. 1MORE’s two transparency modes make it easy to quickly switch between connecting to our devices and the world. The Pass-Through mode allows ambient sound to filter in, which is useful for situations where you need to stay aware of your surroundings. The Voice Enhancement mode amplifies frequencies, like human voices, to stand out, so you never have to awkwardly utter “what’d you say?”

A Smarter Microphone

1MORE boasts its AI-powered Deep Neural Network (DNN) and six microphones’ ability to filter out noise and enhance your voice to create crystal-clear conversations, so I put it to the test. I used the headphones to record the voiceover for one of the clips I used for 1MORE’s unboxing video. While I agree it amplified my voice, I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was crystal clear or completely silenced any external frequencies hindering my voice’s clarity. I also tested it on a phone call with my sister. 1MORE EVO without a doubt made her voice louder but didn’t completely cancel out feedback. My sister claimed that during the portion of the call that I wore the 1MORE EVO headphones, my voice sounded far “clearer” and “louder.” She said that without them, my voice sounded “muffled” and overall “worse,” which I think speaks for itself.

Bottom Line

Ultimately, every facet of 1MORE EVO makes it a solid pair of headphones. The headphones seamlessly switch between noise cancellation or transparency modes with a tap. It would serve as a great alternative for anyone who wants strong noise-canceling headphones but doesn’t want to lug around a massive set of over-the-ear headphones. It is also a solid option for people working from home. You can use the noise cancellation to drown out the noise in your house and concentrate on your work or take advantage of its microphone to boost the clarity of your calls.

Ringing in at $169.99 USD, these headphones still cost less than the more popular recent generation/versions of Airpods while carrying more — and more useful — attributes.

A recent market study by Global Industry Analysts estimated the global market for Wireless Headphones in 2022 to be at $23 billion USD and projects it to grow to $45.7 billion by 2026. The growing wireless headphone market makes this a sound product for retailers in tech to carry.

Looking Ahead

As far as emerging trends, its safe to expect a continuation of what weve seen in recent years, particularly as it relates to the pandemic. One thing were seeing [at NPD] is that consumers are more focused on health and wellness than they have been historically, and with that in mind, Apple Watches and other fitness trackers have performed decently, and Id expect that to continue — especially with some new Google smartwatches potentially coming to market,” said Arnold. He points out that virtual reality had a stellar holiday in 2021, and that recent news about new headsets potentially coming to market could drive up interest for holiday VR sales in 2022. While gaming wasnt as big during 2021s holiday season as it was in 2020 — the real pandemic gaming surge year — he expects it will have another strong holiday season, should there be enough supply of the game consoles, which in recent years have struggled to keep up with demand.

While trend forecasting can be tricky business, and likely depends on how things pan out over the next few months, its worth remembering that were still in the collective consciousness of the pandemic era. If infection and hospitalization numbers continue to move in a positive direction, Arnold points to a possible lift in sales of things like home security cameras and other home security accessories, as people potentially make plans to do more traveling and spend more time outside the house than they have in recent years.

Weve spent a lot of time buying gadgets, but what are the products that add more value to our lives?” said Arnold. I think that will be one of the trends we see at the holidays.”

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • The 1MORE EVO headphones feature noise cancellation, transparency modes and a microphone.
  • A corresponding mobile app personalizes a sound test to your listening preferences, lets you manually switch between listening modes and displays the battery of your case and individual earplugs.
  • Its noise cancellation strength and modes differentiate it from other wireless headphones, which makes it most suited to those working from home and traveling.

1MORE EVO:

Price: $169.99

Headphone Type: Wireless Active Noise Cancellation

Available: Now from usa.1more.com

DIGITAL HEALTH & WELLNESS

Headphones for Any Athlete

A look at audio devices for sports,
from the most basic to high-end

By Mike Kobrin

We live in an era prone to stress and anxiety. Therapy and medication can be effective, but according to the National Institute of Health: “Evidence has suggested that exercise may be an often-neglected intervention in mental health care. Aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening and dancing, have been proved to reduce anxiety and depression.” Each of these activities is a perfect opportunity to listen to music, podcasts or audiobooks to help keep up momentum, and that’s where a good set of sports headphones can make a big difference. According to NPD’s U.S. Retail Tracking service: “unit sales of fitness headphones (defined as those that are water resistant) are up 25 percent year-to-date versus the same timeframe last year (January though May). In 2021, unit sales were up 41 percent vs. 2020.”

The biggest trend among mid-range and high-end fitness headphones is the ability to control how much of your environment you hear via active noise cancellation and transparency mode. These features are often customizable using an app, and our favorite models let you change modes with a button press or a touch on an earphone. After all, who wants to fumble around with their phone to block out the guy on the next treadmill gabbing loudly on a work call?

Basic sports headphones ($99 and under) should have at a minimum Bluetooth 5.0 or later, water/sweat resistance and a secure fit. You can expect sound that is good enough to be heard over your environment, but maybe not for listening to your favorite classic jazz or orchestral recordings. Many – but not all – step-up models ($100-$199) offer extras like on-earphone controls, richer sound (possibly app-customizable), better waterproofing, active noise cancellation and transparency modes. At the high end ($200+), you should expect lots of bells and whistles like multi-point Bluetooth pairing, adjustable or adaptive noise cancellation and transparency and audiophile(ish)-grade sound.

Basic Sports Headphones

Cleer Audio Goal ($99)

These lightweight earbuds with soft C-shaped fins twist to fit securely in your ears. Water resistance is only basic (IPX4), and the sound won’t impress audiophiles, but that’s to be expected at this price. The battery lasts for 6 hours of playtime, and the charging case gets you 14 more hours. The on-board touch pad controls playback and can access your phone’s digital assistant.

Skullcandy Push Active ($79.99)

With IP55 water/dust resistance and a very secure earhook design, the noise-isolating Push Active is a good budget choice for hikers. The Skull-iQ Voice control gives you access to Siri and Google Assistant, and you get handy extras like the included Tile device-finding technology and a transparency mode for hearing your surroundings. The 10-hour battery life (44 with case) is better than other models in this price range.

JLab Go Air Sport ($30)

For the money, you almost can’t go wrong. The secure Earhook design and IP55 water/dust resistance are great for most workouts, and the touch-sensitive earbuds let you adjust the sound as well as access your digital assistant and control playback/calls. The 8-hour battery life (32 with case) is fantastic at this price point.

Middle of the Road

Beats Fit Pro ($199)

These sport Apple’s powerful H1 chip, which gives you access to processing-intensive features like Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking and one-touch iOS device pairing, but they are also Android-compatible. The built-in fins are extremely secure, and the icon B button lets you control playback/calls and much more. The active noise cancellation and sound quality are above average, but the IPX4 rating may disappoint true outdoor adventurers. You also get a transparency mode as well as fast charging (five minutes for one hour of playback) for the 6-hour battery (24 with case).

Jabra Elite 7 Active ($179)

The eartips’ ShakeGrip coating keeps them from falling out without the need for fins or wings, and the earbuds are very small and light. An IP57 rating makes these an excellent choice for getting down and dirty (or wet) during your workout. The Jabra Sound+ app lets you adjust the ANC and cycle through multiple transparency (HearThrough) modes as well as assign controls to the on-board buttons. You get a solid eight hours of battery life (30 hours with case) as well as a fast charge mode

Bose Sport ($149)

Bose’s StayHear Max soft eartips provide a stable fit with class-leading comfort, and the volume-optimized active EQ keeps sounds balanced at any level. The IPX4 rating and lack of active noise cancellation or transparency mode may be dealbreakers for some, but the signature Bose sound and comfort will mitigate this for many. The 5-hour battery life (15 hours with case) and fast charge modes should be enough for most workouts.

High-End Headphones

B&O Beoplay EX ($399)

B&O’s slick design with glass touch surfaces on each earbud look luxe, but they’re durable too, with an excellent IP57 rating. The adaptive noise cancellation, transparency mode and EQ are all adjustable within the companion app, and the earbuds support both aptX Adaptive and AAC for great sound on any smartphone. Unlike most sport models, these don’t have any fins or wingtips, but the silicone ear tips should stay put in most ears. You get 6 hours of playtime and 20 hours with the case, which supports wireless charging.

Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport ($349)

The MW08’s shatter-resistant sapphire glass and wireless-compatible Kevlar fiber charging case gives them a very high-end feel. There are no wings or fins; the company opted for memory foam eartips to keep the headphones in place during workouts. Hybrid active noise cancellation with two transparency modes, multipoint Bluetooth connections and AAC, as well as aptX Adaptive support, mean these can be used for listening well beyond your workout. The 12-hour (42 with case) battery life is the best we’ve seen.

Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 ($229)

These are basically Shure’s SE215 earbuds with wireless earhooks that snap on. That means you can swap out any similar Shure earbuds including their top-end SE846. Despite lacking active noise cancellation, these earbuds block an impressive 37dB passively and offer a transparency mode. You get 8 hours of playtime (32 hours with case) as well as on-board button controls and a companion app for adjusting EQ and transparency. aptX and AAC codec support gives you compatibility with Android and iOS phones.

Water Resistance

IPX4 – splashproof only

IPX5 – can handle occasional direct hits from water jets, but not submersible

IPX7 – waterproof for up to 30 minutes in 1 meter of water

IP55 – same as IPX5 but also dust-resistant

IP57 – same as IPX7 but also dust-resistant

IP67 – same as IPX7 but with maximum dust resistance

Open-Air Headphones

Not all fitness headphones are meant to block sound: Open-air headphones are designed for workout enthusiasts who want to hear what’s going on around them for safety reasons. Models like the Cleer Audio Arc ($129 – shown here) and Bose Sport Open ($199) don’t block your ear canal or rely on mics to pipe in your surroundings, so you get a completely natural ambient experience. AfterShokz OpenRun Pro ($179) takes a different approach, using your jaw to transmit sound through bone conduction, leaving your ears wide open to catch sounds around you.

COVER STORY

Back-to-School Technology

Products that make the transition to the classroom
easier and more fun for everyone

By Egon Sanders

After a spotty few years of fits and starts for in-person classes, it’s that time of the year again: back-to-school. The young kids are back in class, while the older ones head off to college. Of course, technology is becoming ever more central to both students’ social and academic lives, evidenced by the fact that even the SAT will be going completely digital by 2024. A computer is, of course, an essential tool for students these days—a Chromebook or even an iPad will quickly become a student’s best friend. As kids head back into the fray for another year of learning, we’ve picked out some other choice products to make the transition back a little bit easier (and more fun) for both themselves and their parents.

Among many other features, the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS includes sleep tracking, blood oxygen saturation reporting, and stress and heart rate monitoring.

Improving Sleep

As we’ve known for awhile, sleep matters a lot — particularly for those among us with growing brains and bodies. While there’s no technological solution for getting a kid to bed on time, there are ways to help promote healthier sleep. A sunrise alarm is one of them, and Lumie’s Bodyclock Shine is a great choice: it essentially mimics the light and color of a real sunrise, to wake you up gradually and more effectively. The Shine combines this gradually brightening light with a choice of FM radio or one of various wakeup sounds to get the day going with a bit less stress. Other great wakeup clock options include the Hatch Restore and Philips Wakeup Light.

The MW08 wireless earbuds features Hybrid Active Noise-Cancellation, a streamlined form designed for comfort, and a new wind-reducing talk solution with six microphones.

Listening Well

For kids of any age, a pair of decent headphones has become a pretty essential tool. Whether it’s listening back to recorded lectures, video conferencing with peers, or cocooning up with some music while studying in the library (or the living room), there’s almost always a use case. Master & Dynamic’s MW08 earbuds provide up to 12 hours of continuous use on a full charge, while offering noise-canceling and hear-through functions to block out and hear ambient noise, respectively. For the budding athlete, Jabra’s Elite 7 Active earbuds are made with a special liquid silicone rubber compound called ShakeGrip, designed to hold the buds more securely in ears of any size, while remaining soft to the touch. For those track and field stars that prefer a more open-ear style, the Shokz OpenRun Pro uses the company’s bone conduction tech, providing open-ear comfort while still producing a rich sound full of bass. With ten hours of active battery life and IP55 water-resistance, they’re designed to finish the race.

Roku’s streambar simplifies streaming video content and music listening into a single, powerful device that fits perfectly in any dorm room.

Staying Connected

Kids finally leaving the nest and heading off to college can be a rough transition for everyone involved. A simple photo frame can help matters, keeping a regular flow of sharing life’s day-to-day moments. Aura offers digital photo frames suited to the task in a range of styles, whether meant to live in a dorm room or back at home, or back home with mom and dad. Using either the Aura app, uploading directly from a computer or sending photos to a dedicated email address, Aura’s ecosystem lets invitees share more than 10,000 photos and videos with no storage limit, without having to worry about memory cards or subscription fees.

Mophie’s portable powerstation wireless XL includes a range of wired and wireless connections for accessing its speedy charging abilities.

Nimble’s Champ Pro charger puts the emphasis on eco-conscious with its design and packaging, in a highly portable package.

Speakers for Students

For kids working at home or studying in their dorm room, a good speaker can also be an essential study companion. These days, of course, there are many options to choose from: Tribit’s waterproof StormBox Pro is a strong choice, with spacious sound and solid bass in a tote-able form factor. For those heading off to college, it’s worth considering a speaker that can also double as a video content streaming device, and a soundbar for watching TV and movies. Roku’s Streambar is tough to beat: it’s relatively compact, streams content in 4K, is easy to set up and sounds great — no dongle required.

Aura’s range of digital photo frames include cloud storage for more than 10,000 photos and are available in a number of styles.

Keeping a Charge

These days, mobility is key for any student — namely, the option to take projects from classroom to library to after-school events with friends. A capable external charger can help a bunch: GoalZero’s Sherpa 100 PD QI, for instance, provides 95 watt hours of power to charge USB-C laptops, tablets and phones. It’s lightweight and fits easily into backpacks, and two onboard USB-A ports are useful for devices with proprietary charging. For something more geared towards phones and tablets, Mophie’s powerstation wireless XL has a 10,000 mAh internal battery, and the superfast 18W USB-C PD and USB-A ports can bring devices back to life in a matter of minutes. For the eco-conscious student, Nimble’s ultra-compact Champ Pro 20,000 mAh charger is made of 72.5 percent post-consumer plastic and comes in plastic-free packaging.

The OpenRun Pro headphones from Shokz use bone conduction technology to provide great sound with the comfort and convenience of an open-ear design.

Wearable Tech

In terms of wearable tech, a GPS-enabled smartwatch can be a great way to help parents and caretakers keep track of a child’s location in an increasingly challenging world. The Apple Watch is hugely popular, of course, but there are an increasing number of other great choices out there as well. Verizon’s GizmoWatch 2 is an affordable option designed specifically for kids, allowing for voice calls and limited texting, and lets parents track their child’s location throughout the day. The TickTalk 4 is also designed for young kids, adding a camera to the mix for photos and video calls and is impressively durable. Finally, for high school kids or those heading off to college, the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra can manage up to 45 days of battery on a single charge and tracks 24-hour heart rhythm and on-demand fatigue and energy levels for aspiring athletes.

The StormBox Pro is one of many fantastic Bluetooth speakers on the market, with a waterproof design and rich, spacious 360-degree sound.

STAT SHOT

CE Industry By The Numbers

COMPILED BY SAM HITT

100…

…new features have been added to the Shopify platform. The company has also partnered with Twitter to add a sales channel app for U.S. vendors.

$1.7 trillion…

…dollars were spent online over the course of the pandemic, which accounted for a 55 percent increase in eCommerce sales.

38.1 %…

…was the turnover rate of Amazon employees working in the retail trade sector over the course of the pandemic, according to reporting from the Seattle Times.

30 frames per second…

…is the rate at which Samsungs latest 200-megapixel camera sensor the ISOCELL HP3 can capture video in 8K.

57,000 lbs…

…can be transported by Einrides autonomous trucks named Pods,” which will begin operating at a GE Appliances location in Tennessee.

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