I traveled to the CES this week to have a peek into the future and have a little fun while looking for business and productivity solutions for roofing contractors. Anyone with a natural curiosity about all things electronic could not help having fun attending a CES conference. There are more toys here than one can imagine; everything from autonomous vehicles to unmanned aerial vehicles.

As for the business and productivity solutions for roofing contractors, there were plenty around, but many of them take a little imagination to get them on the roof. I consider any innovation that makes the small-business environment better is good for roofing contractors.

So here goes; my top five finds for roofing contractors at the 2019 CES (in no order of importance):

  • The advancement of autonomous vehicle technologies. As this nascent industry continues its slow movement from a great idea to the lab to the street, it was great to see how it is evolving. Of particular interest to roofing and building contractors, there were many developers showing products that are available now to make construction sites safer. One example, and there were many, was the Valeo Extra Vue trailer with backup camera extended from the power unit to the rear of the trailer. Other examples touted multiple camera with smart sensors for use on all manners of mobile construction equipment from loaders to cranes. Beyond the operator-assist systems being deployed today, the completely autonomous vehicle is still a long way from being a reality.
  • Amazon Anywhere. This service allows Amazon customers to set up their homes or vehicles as drop sites for Amazon deliveries. Sounds a little creepy at first, but I can see this as a particularly valuable service to order that extra cordless drill and have it show up in your foreman’s truck directly. I can see some issues with this, but having small items delivered securely to a work site would trim that “run around” cost considerably. Add to that, it is often your most valuable personnel that end up doing all that running around.
  • Wearables. I came looking for exoskeletals but this is, after all, a consumer electronics show. I did, however, run into several emerging new items that fall into the wearable category. It seems that electronic technology has few boundaries, and having electronic gear built into our clothing or onto our hard hats is something we have to look forward to on the roofing job. Some examples include an earpiece for a mobile phone that you wear as a ring. You simply press the bony part of the middle of your ear with the ring-bearing finger, and you get a clear sound that blocks out surrounding noise (like on a windy roof or noisy worksite). Then there is the lifting “assist” belt that was reported on day one. Not new, but improving are the wearable goggles that we will begin to see more and more in flying drones and potentially as a sales or educational tool.
  • Speaking of drones, the industry-leading DJI introduced several new items that roofing contractors will have to consider. The new Mavic Enterprise drone may come equipped with an infrared and conventional-lens camera. Taking infrared and regular photos at once will take roofing inspections to a new level. It has a number of other features including an optional beacon that is required for flying after dusk. Perhaps not as useful for all contractors, the new Osmo Pocket is a very versatile camera with a gimble that provides for nearly foolproof video capture. Roofing contractors who provide video inspections will appreciate the versatility (and size) of this intriguing device. It is not cheap at $349, but neither is presenting your clients with poor quality video or worse, having to go back and take the video over again. DJI also introduced a new controller for their Mavic series with a built-in video screen. It looks super, but for roofing contractors it is helpful to be able to use third-party software to fly with, which this unit does not support. There were many, many other drone manufacturers showing their wares, and if a roofing contractor is in the market to obtain a first or replacement unit, it would be wise to shop around. There was one drone selling for $235 that would be very suitable for many, not all, tasks that a roofing contractor would complete on a routine basis.
  • 5G. The latest version of wireless bandwidth now hitting the market has the potential to be a game-changer for business. Just about anything and everything you do now will be faster, but the ability to create new applications is going to be amazing. Autonomous vehicles and “smart cities” will require this kind of bandwidth.

So that concludes my report on CES 2019. After putting 20K+ steps on my Fitbit every day for three days, I’m ready for some serious couch time. Here’s to the future!

PS: Several things that were just too cool not to mention.

  • Hypervsn – holographic projector was a show-stopper.
  • Google all over the place – with partners for their smart-home services, Google had an army of helpers all over the CES. Major marketing coup in my opinion.
  • Apple was not there other than a billboard.
  • That 1” thick flat-screen TV that showed on two sides “art frame”.
  • The entrance to the LG exhibit was breathtaking.
  • Electric Harley looked great and only left the attendees asking, “What about the Harley roar?”
  • FordPass – just seems like a lot of luxury for a pick-up truck, but nothing new about that (except the technology).