EMD Performance Materials Looks to the Future at #CES2020

CES 2020
EMD Perfomance Group supplies the materials that are in tech items and other everyday products.

Once again this year, I was given the opportunity to visit the team from EMD Performance Materials Group at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas January 7-10. (Full disclosure, the trip and this post were sponsored by EMD Performance Materials Corp., a business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany). I visited them last year as well, and I wrote about that HERE.

EMD Performance Materials Group are responsible for supplying specialty chemicals and high-tech business materials, so many of the tech items one can find at CES 2020 most likely contains some of their products.

The EMD Performance Group’s booth featured a barista so anyone could stop by for a variety of coffees. Photo by JM

This year, their booth was bigger and better and was housed in the Smart Cities portion of CES 2020. They had a barista and were providing free coffee and lattes (with an optional bit of ephemeral 3D printed foam with the team’s logo) for anyone who stopped by, chairs and tables for conversations and interviews, and a stage to hold four informative panels during the convention. All panels were moderated by Ashley Hamer and Cody Gough from the Curiosity Podcast.

Each of the four panels had representatives from various divisions of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany and special guests from other companies who are known experts in their fields and quite adept at explaining the respective technologies.

What follows is a brief preview of the panels. All panels were recorded,  those recordings can be accessed HERE.

Panel 1

Advanced Digital Living—From Smart Cities to the Most Remote Places on Earth

#CES2020 EMD Performance Group Panel on Smart Cities. Photo by JM

#CES2020 EMD Performance Group panel on Smart Cities featured, from l to r:

  • Kai Beckmann, Member of the Executive Board & CEO Performance Materials, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany;
  • Gottfried Wastlbauer, Head of Global Marketing Display Solutions, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany and
  • Rory Moore, CEO & Co-Founder, EvoNexus

These experts defined what a future smart city would look like. A smart city is not just about energy efficient and smart buildings, but also includes intelligent traffic systems and methods for reducing CO2 emissions during transportation. A smart city is involved with the health of its inhabitants and smoothly monitoring and executing the automated systems that control the environment. All of this requires data and computing which requires semiconductors, and that’s where  EMD Performance Materials and affiliates come in,  providing the materials to make the concepts move forward.

Smart Enough City book cover

I’m always on the lookout for good books on any topic, so I’d like mention a book I’ve been meaning to read about smart cities. The Smart Enough City: Putting Technology in its Place to Reclaim Our Urban Future by Ben Green





Panel 2

Superconducting Quantum Computing, From Chips to Full Systems

#CES2020 EMD Performance Materials Group panel on Superconducting Quantum Computers

The #CES2020 EMD Performance Group panel on the future of Superconducting Quantum computing featured, from 1 to r:

  • Daniel Franke, Associate Performance Materials Fund, M Ventures;
  • John Levy, Founder & CEO, SeeCQ
  • John Langan, CTO Performance Materials, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

EMD Performance Materials is partnering with SeeQC to develop the first superconductive digital quantum computing platform that is designed to be commercially scalable and power problem-specific quantum computing applications.

Quantum computing is a complex topic so I’d like to share a video recently produced to help everyone understand what it is, exactly, at a level everyone can understand.

Panel 3

The Future of Displays: Brighter, Sharper, More Flexible

#CES2020 EMD Performance Group panel on the Future of Displays

#CES2020 EMD Performance Group panel on the Future of Displays featuring from l to r:

  • Gottfried Wastlbauer, Head of Global Marketing Display Solutions, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany;
  • Seamus Blackley, Founder & CEO, Pacific Light & Hologram (Yes, the “Father of the X-box“)
  • Bob O’Brien, Co-Founder & President, DSCC (Display Supply Chain Consultations)



This was an interesting and lively panel about what technology can provide and also what consumers want in the future of displays. Much of the panel agreed that the limitations of holograms and more realistic displays are limited by video and film producers who may not see the investment in the further technology on their end to be worth it.

I found this interesting primer on displays from Tech Insider on LEDs, OLEDs and flexible screens, if you want to know more.

Panel 4

Opportunities for Neuromorphic Computing

To no one’s surprise, engineers are often looking to biology to create the most intuitive and interesting advances. The human brain is a marvel at problem solving and identifying patterns. Neuromorphic computing uses the brain as a model to create a 100-fold to 10,000-fold improvement in efficiency of computing, opening opportunities for more advanced AI.

#CES2020 EMD Performance Group panel on Neuromorphic Computing, The hosts of the panels, Cody Gough and Ashley Hamer from curiosity.com, are seen in the foreground.

The final panel on Neuromorphic Computing featured, from l to r:

  • John Langan, CTO Performance Materials, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
  • Wei Lu, Professor of the University of Michigan and CEO & Co-Founder, MemryX
  • Owen Lozman, Head of Performance Materials Fund, M Ventures



While the panel gave a great explanation of what Neuromorphic Computing is during the panel, I will not do a summary justice, so instead, I provide this very clear explainer video on the topic.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn more from the esteemed experts during this event.