Mike Bergman, VP of Technology and Standards at CTA (Consumer Technology Association) shares some insight on the topics featured in the panels he participated in and what makes CES (Consumer Electronics Show) a world-leading event for the future of technological development.
Over half a decade after its creation, CES is now the world’s biggest and most influential consumer technology show. At CES, manufacturers, government officials, industry leaders, developers, and researchers get together to discuss new trends in technology and witness first hand the huge wave of innovation that is taking place at different corners of the world.
Some of the most groundbreaking innovations are introduced at this yearly event, including new smart devices, software solutions, cyber-security tools, and unique gadgets. The show is also an unparalleled opportunity to network with some of the pioneering thinkers and business executives who are shaping the current technology landscape.
This year, CES 2020 took place from January 7-10, at the Las Vegas Convention Center, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Those attending the event were presented with a choice of interesting panels discussing some of the latest trends in technology development, covering topics related to cyber-security, VR/AR, artificial intelligence, and much more.
The new products presented at this year’s show ranged from new 8K TVs to self-driving cars, smart home appliances, sophisticated audio products and robotics.
CES is organised by CTA, the prominent association for consumer tech, based in Arlington, United States. CTA was established with the key mission of helping tech innovators worldwide to grow and develop their businesses, encouraging them to use technology to change people’s lives for the better.
Mike Bergman has been working at CTA for over 7 years, first as a senior director and more recently as vice president of technology and standards. He previously covered important roles at several other US-based companies, including Alps Electric and Kenwood USA. Bergman also holds a BSEE in Semiconductor Design from UC Berkeley, thus he has both an excellent technical understanding of electronics and experience with the business side of technological development.
In this interview with Electronics Point, Bergman shares his thoughts about what makes CES a central hub for innovation, while also discussing some of the key topics and trends featured at this year’s show.
Mike Berman, VP, Technology & Standards, CTA.
Ingrid Fadelli: Let us start with a brief introduction. Can you tell us a bit about your background in the electronics industry and your key responsibilities as VP of technology and standards at CTA?
Mike Bergman: I’m an electrical engineer and a former chip designer, as well as a computer and wireless communications product developer. I managed engineering teams at a number of companies, then moved to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).
At CTA I manage the WAVE Project, a broad industry program for interoperability in commercial internet streaming. I also lead CTA efforts in cybersecurity and spend some of my time working with our partners in the US government to improve the security of the ecosystem.
I work on a variety of spectrum topics, everything from updating AM/FM Radio standards to commenting on mmW FCC rulemaking. From AM to mmW is four orders of magnitude and as an engineer, I love the variety.
IF: You were involved with several sessions at CES. Can you share what makes each session topic important to the future development of consumer applications for designers?
MB: I was involved in three cybersecurity sessions at CES 2020; as it is a particularly hot topic right now, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT).
Incorporating Secure Development Lifecycle into Product Design
I moderated this UL-hosted panel on Secure Development Lifecycle (SDL), which explained what it is, why it’s important and what resources are available to get started.
Having an SDL in place means that business and development are naturally aligned to produce more secure products. UL, BSA | The Software Alliance, Comcast, and NTIA were represented on the panel, so there was great diversity in the perspectives shared.
Focusing on Security in Product Innovation (IBM/Dell/Verizon)
I moderated this panel of senior executives from IBM, Dell and Verizon. This discussion revolved around small to large enterprises dealing with cyber-security issues.
Some interesting points came out of this. There are quite a few resources out there for organizations to improve their cyber posture and you don’t have to build in-house cyber expertise; you can take advantage of managed services (and all three companies offer such services, coincidentally!) Deepfake-as-a-service (DfaaS) is already a thing and it is likely to start making news in 2020.
IoT Device Requirements Planning for Security Compliance
I was fortunate enough to have NIST’s Kat Megas, head of their IoT Cybersecurity program, as a co-panelist. I was the host and editor of CSDE’s “C2 Consensus” and Kat leads the team developing the multi-stakeholder driven NIST Interagency Report 8259.
NISTIR 8259 v2 was just released and we were able to discuss the importance of “baseline” IoT device security, which is a critical topic now that legislators, regulators, retailers and others are beginning to ask manufacturers for secure products and for certification or test results of product security.
In one panel, I asked the audience who they represented. The audience included manufacturers, retailers, government, industry, and academia; so pretty much all categories were represented.
IF: What do you feel are the most valuable or exciting aspects of CES as an event? Do you feel that it plays a part in shaping trends in consumer technology and if yes, in what way?
MB: Such a short question with so many possible answers! I think the most exciting aspects of CES are seeing the coolest new ideas developed by everyone in your market or industry, and seeing what other markets/industries are doing that might apply to your sector. These two factors make CES an accelerator of innovation. Add to this the great networking and conversations that occur, and CES clearly becomes an extremely useful and important part of your year.
IF: What were you personally looking forward to at this year’s CES?
MB: I have so many great connections at CES, every year. I’m always looking forward to seeing current friends and contacts and making new ones. For instance this year, just after arriving, I met a senior government official who is involved in one of my topic areas on the bus, going to the convention center.
Every major and emerging industry is represented at CES, the entire tech ecosystem is here. There are over 170K attendees and 4,500 exhibiting companies, including 1,200 startups. The top global brands and international businesses are here; over 160 countries, regions and territories are represented.
IF: Why do you think engineers or developers should be involved in CES? What are the greatest appeals of the show and what can it offer them?
MB: It really is that firehose of information. This is the world’s largest and most influential technology event. There are 2.9 million square feet of exhibitors. It’s a proving ground for transformative tech—including 5G connectivity, AI, AR/VR, smart home, smart cities, sports tech and more.
IF: What do you believe are the major technologies defining the consumer tech industry today?
MB: There are quite a few, but obviously the top is connectivity. 5G and WiFi 6 are key and with additional wireless technologies we have the Internet of Things (IoT). Add in AR/VR, digital health and wellness, the transformation of transportation, and the list goes on.
However, a special spot should be reserved for the artificial intelligence (AI) family, including machine learning (ML), neural networks, and so on. These technologies are horizontal, they are having a huge impact on every market and sector across the board.
IF: What trends should engineers and innovators working in the consumer tech industry be aware of?
MB: There are many, but considering just the horizontal trends that impact everyone? Artificial Intelligence (AI), certainly. There are no product categories that will not be impacted by AI. I’d also add cybersecurity. Regulators, retailers and other important stakeholders are increasingly asking about products and whether they were designed with security in mind. As an example, imagine your startup has a chance to ‘pitch’ to a venture capitalist, would you be able to address cybersecurity?
IF: What do you think are the greatest challenges that consumer electronics developers are facing today?
MB: Generally, keeping up with a shifting landscape. Supply chain uncertainty, novel regulations on consumer data privacy, security, competition from new areas, disruption in market sectors, and changing demographics in the consumer base.
IF: How do you think they should approach resolving these challenges?
MB: Networking is so important. They should attend CES and other conferences when possible, join industry standards bodies or other industry groups, use LinkedIn, and take advantage of their professional society (e.g., IEEE).
IF: What advice would you give to developers who are entering the consumer tech industry?
MB: My advice is to be aware that things are changing quickly. Innovation moves at the speed of light, so one must stay up to date or be left behind. Also, development processes are really important; if your organization is casual about the development process you may be in the wrong organization.
Finally, remember that money is important. A product may sell for $100 but the retained earnings component of the sales price could be under $2. If you aren’t already familiar with retained earnings, there’s a whole stack of calculations from landed cost to net/net that you should become familiar with; this is why the organization is in business. Software developers aren’t excluded from the need to understand the financial aspects--at least if they want to be successful.
IF: What are your primary hopes and expectations for the future of consumer tech?
MB: This is life-changing tech that improves our lives and world for the better, meaning what is on the floor at CES 2020, and this show is the best touchstone for the future of consumer tech. Expect more of the same, enhancements in quality of life through digital health and wellness, future mobility and transportation, artificial intelligence, robotics, and assistive devices.
IF: Before we conclude, would you like to share any particular projects that you are currently involved with and are excited about with our readers?
MB: My main projects right now are CTA WAVE, for broad interoperability of internet streaming video; and the C2 Consensus on IoT device ‘baseline’ security.
The WAVE Project is supported by OTT leaders (engineers) from Akamai, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Comcast, LG, Sony, Samsung and more. We’ve produced three standards and two free open source test suites. Adoption is great; ATSC 3.0 uses WAVE and other standards bodies are in the process of doing the same. Individual companies don’t announce ‘compliance’ for this technology, but we can say, for example, that Disney+ is aligned with the WAVE technical direction and their engineers are on the steering committee.
The C2 Consensus has been very well accepted, both by the industry and government. C2 defines 10 device capabilities for IoT security. These capabilities cover things like protection of data, securing logins, and so on.
There are also three organizational capabilities for things like vulnerability handling. Twenty major organizations participated in C2, all groups that convene their own membership on cybersecurity-- so “C2” is short for “Convene the Conveners”. It has really taken off, so my next project will entail the creation of a “version 2”. Our work on this began shortly after CES 2020 ended.
While Bergman is involved in numerous projects at CTA, he is currently focusing most of his efforts on WAVE and the development of a second version of the C2 consensus. The WAVE project is aimed at developing effective and secure tools to enable the global compatibility of commercial internet video and web applications, such as Disney+.
You can find out more about this interesting project here.
The C2 Consensus, on the other hand, is essentially a report outlining key practices and design specifications that can enhance the cybersecurity of IoT devices, which was collectively issued by a group of nearly two dozen organisations operating in the tech industry, as well as trade associations and standards development organizations.