175,000 industry professionals. 3800 exhibiting companies. 2.6 million net square feet of showroom space. CES is the largest consumer technology trade show in the world. This is a collection of the 25 weird, wonderful, wacky, and downright ingenious things I saw during CES 2017.
- A Car That Knows How You Feel
With self-driving Uber vehicles already navigating the streets of San Francisco, autonomous vehicles are moving toward the mainstream. The Concept-i takes next-gen vehicular tech another step further by introducing a Jarvis-like AI named ‘Yui’. Yui senses drivers’ emotions in order to create a safer on road experiences, and also taps into these feelings and shared ‘experiences’ to converse with the driver and enhance their drive. Examples included Yui playing nostalgic playlists to coincide with memorable locations, consoling a father dealing with a hormonal teenage daughter, and charting a mapped route that let passengers engage with local wildlife. Though the Toyota Concept-i car is still, by its very name, a concept, it offers insight into a very fascinating, science fictionesque technological future.
Also of note: the car BLINKS
- A Screen That You Can Really Feel
I’d heard about this type of screen technology before, and there are rumours that it might soon find itself integrated in the next generation of smartphones. Tanvas was one of two companies I found demoing this technology, and it was great to finally have the chance to try it. Using electrostatics, the Tanvas screen controls the friction your finger experiences when touching the screen. As a result, the screen, though flat, can mimic a variety of different textures.
- Fridges, Robots, and AI Who Are Much Smarter Chefs That I Am
The kitchen is a popular place for these machines! The Samsung Family Hub 2.0 Smart Fridge, which debuted at the show, is a full out computer in its own right. Equipped with a screen, and a microphone constantly listening for command prompts, the fridge allows users to access recipes, calendars, grocery stores, and other applications from the fridge itself. Users can also easily peep into the contents of their fridge wherever they may be, using a smartphone application.
Throughout the show, I was prepared two cups of coffee, a serving a cotton candy, and a cup of frozen yogurt courtesy of our robotic friends.
However, technological revelations are present not only in how we prepare our food, but in what we are preparing as well. IBM’s super AI, Watson, is best known for besting Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings in competition. However, Watson has been put to use in a variety of different permutations, including as a songwriter (take a listen to ‘Not Easy’ by Alex Da Kid feat. X Ambassadors, Elle King, and Wiz Khalifa) and even as a chef. By analyzing ingredients on a molecular level, Watson was able to identify unconventional food pairings that seem peculiar, but strangely work. Courtesy of Chef Watson’s gastronomical expertise I sampled two dishes:
This slightly unappetizing looking blob is actually a to die for Chocolate Chili Crumble. I went back for seconds of this one – it really was that good!
The Coffee Tomato Meatballs were a big hit at the event as well
If you’d like to give “smart” cooking a try, a Chef Watson app is available online: https://www.ibmchefwatson.com/community
- Next-Gen Self Balancing Transportation
Two self balancing transportation devices, both of which were announced at the show, caught my eye (and my balance).
The Honda UNI-CUB was designed for individuals who are capable of walking, but lacking the energy to do so for long periods of time. The user controls the device by shifting their weight and looking in the direction they would like to move. Though it takes a bit of time to change the way in which I processed and prompted movement, by the end of the demo, I found it to be a very intuitive control set.
You can take a look at my test drive of the UNI-CUB on the Live in Limbo Twitter page:
— LIVE IN LIMBO (@liveinlimbo) January 7, 2017
The Jyro Roll is a much faster device, operating at speeds up to 15 miles per hour. The electronic stabilized machine rides very similarly to a skateboard or a snowboard – both of which I have absolutely no experience on. However, with a little help, even my rookie self was able to navigate the board.
- Really Smart Toys
From robotic lego to robotic dogs, it looks like the kids of the future will have some pretty high tech playthings in their toy boxes.
I especially liked the PAI Technology Ocean Pets, which merges traditional art and playtime with technology. Kids (big and small) can design their own plasticine fish, which is then scanned via a mobile app and brought to life in the onscreen sea. I named my red and purple striped fish Sean, after our fearless leader and Editor in Chief at Live In Limbo.
- Some Familiar Faces
With so much innovation on display, it’s unsurprising that a few famous and familiar faces wanted in on the excitement as well.
Electro House musician, Steve Aoki, released a line of “fashionable” power banks called BUQU. However, I also found him test driving the Honda UNI-CUB devices.
Wattpad, one of Toronto’s biggest startups, was present at the show as well. Though they may not follow the traditional definition of “celebrity”, as a proud Torontonian, I couldn’t help but snap a photo of them.
CES was home not only to almost 5000 exhibitors and 2.6 million net square feet of showroom space, but also to a few industry conferences as well. Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal headlined the Entertainment Summit conference, where he spoke of his experience working as an analyst with Turner Sports.
- A Smartphone Tool That Helps You See
The EyeQue is a tool that affixes on top of a smartphone screen. The tool allowed users to perform vision exams in the comfort of their own home. If performed enough times, the app and device can actually be used to grant a prescription that can be then taken to an optometrist or suggested eye care vendor.
- A Smartphone App That Sees Smarter
Poly is an AR app that allows users to instantly find information on what they see. The free app, which started as an aide for the visually impaired, can return product information and other relevant data.
- A 3D Face Scanner
3D cameras and scanners are by no means a new thing, but the speed and ease at which the Bellus3D operated was a nice touch.
- Epic Holographic Signage
These signs, strategically located by the entrance of the ‘Eureka Park’ startup showroom, caught the eye, and the camera, of many attendees. The holograms, created by Kino-Mo are created by spinning displays, which were picked up by the quick shutter speed on my camera. To see the full effect of the illusion, check out this video:
- A Wondrous, And Well Needed Massage Chair
Disclaimer: I encountered the Inada Massage Chair on the very last day of the show, after carrying a backpack’s worth of camera and note taking equipment with me. Inada created the first ever massage chair, and given my aching shoulders, I can vouch for the wondrous nature of this device.
- Earbuds That Let You Hear Smart
The Nuheara IQbuds don’t just let you control your music, they let you control how you hear life. These earbuds allow you to filter and emphasize specific sounds and frequencies, allowing the user to tailor and choose the sounds they hear. With the IQbuds, office white noise or the hum of an airplane engine can be filtered out. Similarly, when jogging or in an office environment, users can listen to their music without fear of missing the sounds of incoming traffic or a coworker’s verbal requests.
- Headphones That Let You Hear Surround Sound
The OSSIC X 3D headphones provide a surround sound experience within a pair of headphones. When coupled with VR, this creates an incredibly immersive experience.
- Speakers That Isolate Sound
The Akoustic Arts Directional Speaker “A” is unique in that it can only be heard when the listener is directly facing it. If off to the side, the noise is undetectable.
- A Bandana That Keeps Your Air Clean
Though this may seem more like a mishmash of devices rather than a “technological revelation”, the Wair scarf, which has a built in air filter, has a few specific but useful utilizations. Developed as a way to protect the airways of horseback riders, I can imagine this bandana being incredibly useful during the dusty music festival season, or as a passive aggressive way to preserve your respiratory system when hanging out with friends and family who happen to be smokers.
- Lots of Parties
One must not forget that CES is hosted in Las Vegas. As such, even though the showroom floor closed at 6PM our evenings had just begun.
Many hotel restaurants were converted into company HQs for the weekend, and served as offsite showrooms as well as after hours party spaces. Dell took over the Yardbird at the Venetian.
- New Ways to Consume Alcohol
I found two DIY brewery machines at the show, the Alchema, which allows users to create their own fermented cider, and the PicoBrew, which operates like the Keurig of beers, and enables individuals to brew craft beer recipes in their own home.
For those that prefer wine over ciders or beers, the MyOeno allows users to understand exactly what flavour notes and tannins their favourite vino contains.
- A Wearable That Knows How Drunk You Are
And once you’ve consumed all that beer, cider and wine, the Quantac sensor can inform you just how drunk you actually are. The Quantac team demonstrated their device with the #howdrunkisjack campaign, in which CTO Jack took one for the team and partied it up in Vegas… all for the sake of showcasing their tech. Quite the trooper.
- An eRace
On the final day of CES, FormulaE drivers faced off against top rated simulator drivers in chase of a whopping $1M prize pool. Sim racer Bono Huis was the ultimate winner of the event, with racer Felix Rosenqvist being the only FormulaE representation in the Top 10.
Antonio Felix De Costa keeping an eye on the competition during a preliminary round of the race.
- A Robust Round Up of Robots
From humanoid, blob shaped, and those reminiscent of man’s best friend, here’s a selection of the sometimes cute, sometimes creepy robots I spotted at the show:
The UBTech Lynx
- A Paperthin Solar Panel
The Yolk ultrathin consumer solar panel can be attached to a wall or backpack so that folks can recharge their tech on the go.
- A Mobile Dermatologist
IOBLabs SkinScopyTM attaches to mobile phone cameras, and allows users to take super zoomed in photos of their skin, which their proprietary app can then analyze. Pores, acne, dryness – if you’re unsure what’s wrong your epidermal layer, or are trying out new products and want to track your progress, the SkinScopyTM allows users to understand and analyze their own skin.
- All the VR
I lost track of how many VR headsets I donned over the course of the show. Though I’d experienced VR many times in the past, I had two especially notable VR experiences during CES
The Oculus VR headsets, as expected, create a much more realistic viewing experience that a cardboard viewer. However, when coupled with Discovery’s high quality footage, they created the most immersive VR I had ever experienced.
The Samsung Galaxy Studio Gear VR Theatre combines VR with amusement park-esque mechanics to create a “4D” experience. Users simulate rowing, piloting, or skeleton with even more realism thanks to the physical sensations and movements.
- Amazon Alexa
Alexa’s presence was only exacerbated by the fact that it, well, wasn’t really there. Though the sole Amazon sponsored activations were a giant Amazon Echo in the Aria lobby and a small giveaway truck outside the Convention Centre, the Amazon voice service, which allows individuals to control devices using vocal commands, was integrated into a vast number of products at the show.
- The “Thinnest Most Powerful Messaging Device at CES”
For me, the most powerful showcase at CES was done by none other than greeting card company, American Greetings. Showgoers were able to get their hands on, and send out to their loved ones, the “thinnest most powerful messaging device” AKA a good ol’ written note. Technology truly is amazing, and a walk through the packed halls of the CES showroom floor – filled with creativity, ingenuity, and the gadgets of the future – are an absolute testament to that. However, it’s also important to take a step back every once in awhile, and make sure we keep things in perspective.
Happy 50th birthday, CES!