It’s the week before JCK Las Vegas—the calm before the proverbial storm. I’ve been hydrating, getting my nightly eight hours of sleep, carb loading—and preparing a cheat sheet of things to do and people to see. Here are three things on my short list for this year’s show (and wouldn’t you know, they’re all tech-related!):
1. Rio Tinto’s Oculus Experience
Rio Tinto, a longtime LUXURY exhibitor, always does something special at its booth, but this year, expect something extra-special. If you know anything about Oculus VR, an Irvine, Calif.–based virtual-reality technology firm acquired by Facebook in March, you’ll have some idea of what’s in store. But just in case you don’t, here’s what Mark Zuckerberg had to say about the acquisition:
“Our mission is to make the world more open and connected,” he wrote in a March 25 Facebook post. “This is where Oculus comes in. They build virtual-reality technology, like the Oculus Rift headset. When you put it on, you enter a completely immersive computer-generated environment, like a game or a movie scene or a place far away. The incredible thing about the technology is that you feel like you’re actually present in another place with other people. People who try it say it’s different from anything they’ve ever experienced in their lives.”
When I was in New York earlier this month, I had the opportunity to try on the Oculus Rift gaming headset and see for myself. The forward-thinking head of Rio Tinto’s North American operations, Brandee Dallow, invited me to the Chelsea-based office of Bravo Studios, a company that creates the graphics, sounds, and videos that will transport LUXURY attendees from the Mandalay Bay Convention Center to the company’s Diavik Diamond Mine in Canada via the Oculus experience. Look for a news story on Rio Tinto’s virtual-reality experiment in the JCK Las Vegas Show Daily—and suffice it to say: You won’t want to miss this wild ride.
The New Yorker says the Oculus Rift gaming headset “looks like a scuba mask with a metal plate bolted on the front” and they’d be right; here’s publicist Mark Davidovich trying it on earlier this month when he and I got a sneak peek at Rio Tinto’s Oculus experience.
2. Shark Tank
Thursday, May 29, the day before the JCK show opens, is action-packed. From that morning’s LUXURY Retailer of the Year breakfast presentation to that evening’s Diamonds in the Sky bash organized by the Diamond Empowerment Fund, there are lots of great events on the schedule. The most intriguing one of the bunch is the Shark Tank presentation taking place in Tradewinds D from 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.
Six exhibitors—Diaspark, Metallix, FashionTEQ, Trac Tech Systems, Gemit, and the Kingswood Company—will each have seven minutes to impress the judges with their new products and services, from organic cleaning supplies to smart jewels. If you want to get a sense of the industry’s technological future, don’t miss this first-ever JCK version of Shark Tank, especially because audience members will have a chance to vote on their favorite companies, thereby helping some of their revolutionary products find their way to market. (And I’m not just urging you to attend because I’m one of the presenters!)
3. Jewelry + Technology
In keeping with the technology theme, I’m super excited to see Canadian designer Reena Ahluwalia’s new Nurture by Reena collection of diamond jewels in the Design Center. The line offers not one, but two huge talking points: The diamonds are all lab-created and the jewels feature QR codes that lead buyers to a website where they can see customized messages and photos created for them. I suspect we’ll be seeing more than a few entrants into the jewelry-as-technology arena this year—and certainly in the years to come. Reena’s clever take on the emerging topic satisfies one of the most common complaints about “wearables”—namely, that they lack good design.
Pendants from the Moments collection, which marks the debut of Reena Ahluwalia’s Nurture by Reena line (photo courtesy Reena Ahluwalia)
All right, Vegas, we’re at 8 days and counting…. I’ve just got one big thing to do before I arrive in Sin City on May 27 and that’s a trip to the Formula 1 Grand Prix de Monaco as a guest of Rolex. I can’t think of a cooler way to get into the party spirit. See you in the desert!