Check out a bunch of quick videos below, or skip to the bottom for a photo gallery!
Every year just after the holidays over 170,000 people that work in technology fields head to Las Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show. Now in it’s 51st year, the CES show has over 3,900 exhibitors, contains 2.75 million net square feet of exhibit space, and raises hotel prices as high as $800 a night for those that book late. As a CES veteran for more than 7 years, I find CES a great opportunity to network and learn about new technologies. It’s a great educational show, provided you wear comfortable shoes.
So what’s on the horizon for technology in 2018? Here’s a look at the best and most interesting products and trends I found at this year’s CES.
All the people here want everything connected to the Internet. It’s called the “Internet of Things (IoT)”. By now, you’ve likely heard about the Smart Home. Lights, door locks, toasters and security cameras all connected to the Internet allowing you to access them with an app. There were plenty of these smart appliances to check out at CES, but what’s somewhat new is the massive addition of voice assistants. The electronic industry thinks we don’t want to move — only speak — to pretty much everything.
AMAZON’S ALEXA DOMINANCE
It was hard to walk more than a few feet without seeing an Amazon Alexa enabled device. Alexa is normally an Internet connected speaker that sits in your home and allows you to control devices, play music, and order Amazon products. Now Amazon has decided to let Alexa live in everything. Amazon clearly has a dominance in this field that Google Assistant (“OK Google”) hasn’t been able to catch up with. At least not yet. Some of the devices I saw that have an integrated Alexa control include mobile car chargers, security cameras, thermostats, televisions, robots, alarm clocks, and even a Delta water faucet for your kitchen. Who wants to push the handle down when you can just ask Alexa to do it? In addition to those items, Whirlpool is betting big on Alexa, too. The appliance manufacturer is offering the Amazon service via their dishwashers, washers and dryers, and refrigerators. They hinted that an Alexa powered oven would be released in the spring.
The Lynx robot from features Amazon Alexa
Smart Cities were one of the big buzzwords this year. It basically means a city using electronic data collection sensors to process data and progress the cities functions. Think traffic lights connected to your car for improved traffic flow. I attended a seminar on the future of smart cities and there are some big companies investing a lot of capital into these concepts both stateside and abroad. While overseas goals of smart cities tend to benefit the environment, the USA plans typically lean toward traffic flow and parking, at least so far. As a Southern California resident, I certainly support that goal. While there are a few smart cities, this technology isn’t quite ready for mass rollout with it’s huge undertaking, but it clearly will be our future.
Self Driving Vehicles
Almost the entire North hall of the Las Vegas convention center was dedicated to autonomous vehicles, vehicle tech, and self driving technologies. Major car companies are showing their plans for their– and our– future.
Smart people predict in 5 to 10 years we won’t buy cars anymore. You’ll spend that $20 – $40,000 major purchase on a robot for your home to do housework and security, and you’ll simply “hail” a car with an app. We’re already being introduced to this with services like Lyft and Uber, it’s just the cars won’t come with annoying drivers.
MERCEDES AND TOYOTA SMART CARS
Both of these auto giants were showing off concept cars that look like something out of the Jetsons meets Total Recall. They look more like futuristic eggs than a car.
Mercedes clearly emphasizes them as concept cars and says these are the vehicles they predict on the road in 2030. There was even a live test drive on Las Vegas Blvd for media outlets.
Toyota Concept Car Designs at CES
A little known startup called Byton made a big splash at CES this year. Their all electric SUV concept vehicle has bold looks both inside and out. The entire dash is a gigantic monitor. The car has facial recognition and is expected to launch with “level 3” autonomy (similar to the Tesla’s Autopilot) with plans to move to level 4 (you don’t even have to pay attention with level 4 autonomy) just after 2020. The Byton is expected to launch in China in 2019, and hit the US in 2020. The company was started by former employees of BMW and Apple so that fusion and their impressive looking vehicle garnered much interest.
Byton’s all electric car has the largest dash monitor I’ve seen
BMW and Apple employees came up with this exciting concept
Ford and Dominos Pizza Self Driving Pizza Delivery
We’ve heard of drones delivering Amazon boxes and Domino’s pizza in the past. Well this year Ford and Domino’s have partnered up to launch a self driving pizza delivery vehicle. Looking like the early model Google cars with LIDAR sensors spinning, when it arrives at your house, you’re given a 4 digit pin which opens the window and allows you to grab your still warm pizza before it zooms to the next location. Dominos is testing this in Michigan to see if people are willing to actually go outside to get fed.
You next pizza may come from a self driving delivery vehicle
AAA SELF DRIVING SHUTTLE
While the showfloor is great, there’s nothing like actually experiencing your first self driving vehicle ride. So I headed to the downtown Fremont area hoping to catch a ride on the AAA “Hop On” fully self driving shuttle. There was a line of about 20 people waiting to experience this new technology first hand. This was a highlight of my trip. The 12 mph shuttle runs in a square around downtown and while I was on it, was tested at least 5 times with pedestrians and even a speeding car cutting it off. It performed admirably the whole time and and is great exposure for people to the future of autonomous vehicles. I recorded the majority of the ride, and you can view it below.
The 8 passenger self driving shuttle is a truly futuristic experience
Each year this field grows at CES. While we’re still a ways a way from a T-1000, we’re starting to see more practical uses for robotics in the home. Currently we might think of robotics more as automation for GM or Mazda, but robotics are slowly creeping into the consumer sector. Robotic toys are all over CES (and Amazon). Not only are friendly looking robots being designed to teach kids math, music, and other subjects, there are companies designing robots to assist the elderly as well.
At a robotics seminar they predicted that in 10 years or less we’ll have a robot in our home doing the chores that no one wants to do.
Rosie The Robot?
One standout this year was from a robotics company called Aeolus. They demonstrated their robot that can vacuum your floor and bring you a can of beer after a hard day of work. It can even identify the difference between a Coke and a Budweiser. Watching the robot pick up the can was rather interesting. The algorithms that went into that single task must be complex. It was a :40 chore for Aeolus to properly plan to pick up the can upon approach, but nonetheless it was quite impressive to actually see it work. This is the beginning. I can’t imagine in 5 years where this technology will be.
While most of the robots I saw at CES would fumble at a staircase, a few companies had robots that could transverse a set of stairs. Keep in mind this is the “Consumer” electronics show. We all know that our military has this tech already, right?
Aeolus robot vacuums the floor
Aeolus robot, bring me a Coke!
Practice table tennis with Omron’s table tennis robot
Every year the big manufacturers try to outdo each other by bringing the TV that will be generate the most buzz. Samsung, LG, Sony, HiSense and more have huge booths and spare no expense at showcasing TV tech that they may never even sell. Then of course, there’s trends. 7 years ago the biggest thing was 3D TV’s. We all know what happened there. Lately the trend seems to be bigger and better. Bigger screens, and more pixels like UHD and better ways to project light for brighter pictures like OLED and the new MicroLED.
TCL Frame Art
Something a little different came from TCL, the self proclaimed “America’s Fastest-Growing TV Brand”. I walked by and saw some really nice framed paintings. I first thought “That’s not very high tech”. Then the painting changed to a different one. From far away, I was fooled. They call it Frame Art, and they are really nice TV’s that display art by day, and may tune into an episode of Star Trek Discovery every Sunday night. View the frame art in the photo gallery below.
Samsung’s THE WALL
Enter the TV to end all TV’s. Yes, one day our entire wall will be a television screen. That day is almost here with the introduction of Samsung’s 146″ modular (scalable sizing) TV they aptly called “The Wall”. With a stunning picture and no visible “seams” of monitors put together, this was probably one of the most impressive products at the show that will be available this year. “The Wall” can also blend in with your real wall and features an Art Mode too. Samsung also says it has a new 85 inch Q9S TV which will use AI (Artificial Intelligence) to convert a low-resolution picture into 8K resolution, or a fancy way to say upscaling to a really awesome picture.
I need a bigger house for this 146″ TV
Unfortunately missing from the show floor was the LG rollable TV that the media reported on. The TV was limited to only press events prior to the opening of the show. You can get a look at the rollable TV in the photo gallery below. While it’s not a practical product, LG wants to show off just how thin these screens can be and still look good.
Most noteworthy at the LG booth was their walk-through curved display, which was quite impressive as you entered Central Hall. Something you’ll probably never have in your home, but it had everyone talking.
Clearly a shock and awe display, LG wowed tech geeks
Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality
There were dozens of opportunities to slap on a VR/AR helmet and be transformed to a space station (the NASA booth), play a dizzying first person shooter game, or see some practical uses of augmented reality on the job.
One of the standouts in this area was the HTC Vive with it’s nifty wireless adapter. It becomes an untethered VR goggle and headset combo. But it still can’t stop you from walking into your wall.
Drones were everywhere as expected.
Intel has a “flying taxi” they called the Volocopter. It’s a drone for carrying a human. We saw this in 2016 from a company called Ehang. Other companies like DJI and others were showcasing the latest and greatest in camera/video and assisted flying technology. One standout was a Tello drone that is scheduled to have a price point of only $99 when it debuts later this year. The drone includes high end features like a 360 degree camera, awesome battery life, and even DJI flight stabilization.
Intel stole the show with an off site drone demo. They had their very own show at the Bellagio fountain that passerby’s claim will become the future of fireworks. They flew 250 Shooting Star drones over the fountains in a musical light show you can view below.
Intel’s light drone show included 250 drones
Less “sexy” to talk about (because there’s no pictures) is the new buzzword 5G. Currently our data speeds on our mobile phone come from 4G technology. This allows you to watch movies and video chat with family and was a big deal when it launched in late 2010. The plans for 5G are just being set, and 5G technology will increase our current data speeds up to 100 times. It will also cut latency to almost nothing and increase battery life on our smartphones. With almost everything headed for an online connection in our future, 5G technology is said to be what will make all of this work.
In addition, 5G will be what allows self-driving cars to handle all the data they need to operate safely. There are also promising trials in life saving long distance robotic surgery over 5G connections. Since 5G has almost zero latency, that number one surgeon in the country could easily operate on your spouse from thousands of miles away in an emergency. Look for 5G handsets and big carrier announcements from all the major wireless carriers later this year. Soon, wireless is going to be faster than your hardwired ethernet connection and that alone is pretty bizarre.
I covered most of the highlights of #CES2018 above. But I have to save some space for some of the crazy, wacky tech, and just a few additional things worth mentioning.
Kohler has a smart toilet. Yes, two words you never really expected to see together. In another bizarre Amazon Alexa integration, you can have Alexa flush the toilet if you’re too lazy to press the button. If I ever find a high definition vacuum, I’m going to punch someone!
There’s also a smart couch from Milibo which features cool LED under lighting, a wireless charging pad for your smartphone, and what looks to be an iPad type device mounted in the armrest for total home control.
In the wearable tech arena, there were many life saving devices. Health, fitness and wearable are really combining to make some great new tech products. I kind of scoffed at a pair of shoes that will know if you’ve fallen down, but I guess it’s just a high tech version of the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” lifesaving button my Mom wears around her neck.
Last year in this blog I talked about Modobag, a suitcase you can actually get on and ride through the airport. While Modobag was still exhibiting this year, the newest travel craze was from a company called ForwardX, with their self following suitcase. You wear a wristband, and well, the suitcase follows you through the airport on it’s own. I hope it’s not crowded!
Having trouble sleeping? Do you remember the old song “Rock a Bye Baby”? You can remember it again with this literal rocking bed. It rocks back and forth so you can have the most peaceful sleep ever dreaming that you’re on a carnival ride.
Quite a few advancements this year at CES. Record attendance too (the last count I heard was 184,000 attendees). We can only imagine what will be front and center next year at the biggest tech show on the planet.
Don’t carry your luggage, let it do some work, too!
The Rocking Bed. Dramamine not included.
CES Coverage by Tom Hanberg | Skyhound Internet