Every year about this time in Las Vegas, more than 150,000 people gather at CES, the largest technology trade show in the world. This year’s CES 2017 had more than 3,800 exhibiting companies. But this year there is a palatable difference in the exhibitors who are excited about new products. As usual there are start-ups, but there are also more big names with breakout products than I ever expected.
One example is Whirlpool who featured a ton of smart appliances. Some of them seemed more useful than others. For instance, the smart All-in-One Care Combo is a washer and dryer combined so you never have to transfer the wash from one machine to another. That’s a useful idea. It also has a load-and-go liquid soap dispenser which orders soap directly from Amazon when it runs low. Its vent-less dryer can install anywhere and it can notify you when the load is done. Also Whirlpool’s Zera Food Recycler which turns food into fertilizer in just one day may be a good answer for all the food that goes into the garbage. However, the Whirlpool Vessi Fermentor which brews craft beer seems much less useful.
Ideas from large companies who are trying to adapt to the new connected-world and voice-activation were everywhere at CES 2017. From LG to Sony to Sylvania to Honeywell to Ford…they were all there trying to put their label on the next great device.
While last year Amazon didn’t have a big presence at the show this year it did. This year Amazon made a splash with a 14’ tall Amazon Echo (Alexa). Last year many companies announced that they would be working with Alexa.
This year the rush of companies making that announcement was almost overwhelming. Again, many large companies were among them. Ford will let you interact with Alexa from the house or to interact with connected home devices when on the road. Lenovo’s Smart Assistant is an Echo-like device with Alexa built in. There is an LG smart refrigerator that will work with Alexa. Some Westinghouse TVs will have the Amazon Fire TV with Alexa built-in. Dish announced that its Hopper super DVR will soon work with Alexa to let you change stations and record programs. ADT Pulse Security will add Alexa to its devices. The Samsung robotic vacuum will have Alexa smarts as well. GE will have a modern looking lamp attached to the Echo-like device.
Self-Driving Cars were everywhere at CES 2017. Some large high tech firms like Google, Microsoft, Intel, and NVIDIA are developing autonomous cars and platforms for such cars. Auto manufacturers like Audi, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Ford and others are all heavily involved. Not only were there many self-driving cars on the roads at CES 2017, but they are coming soon to many different cities.
Drones with multiple cameras and multiple ways to see what they see were everywhere. Drone trends include selfie drones and foldable drones. The Hover Camera Passport will now use facial recognition to keep the camera on you. It can be controlled by hand gestures. Several drones featured 4K resolutions and up to 18x optical zoom. Drones with underwater cameras and cameras that can see the fish underwater to help fishermen were commonplace as were drones with thermal cameras.
Mercedes-Benz combined drones, robotics, and self-driving cars in their autonomous Mercedes Van. The van has no windows. Inside products are stacked awaiting delivery. When the van reaches its destination, the robots chose the proper box, the roof opens and the drones deliver the product to the customer’s doorstep.
You can also look to these big television manufacturers to see the direction that television trends are moving. For example, LG and Samsung both introduced television screens not much thicker than wallpaper that hang flush on the wall with only one translucent cable. The guts of the TV are hidden in a sound bar or operating box. OLED also make a breakout this year as Sony announced that it will produce OLED TVs giving LG its first competitor in that area.
Just this month Apple started shipping their Air Pod wireless earbuds. Seems that when Apple gets into a type of device, everyone follows suit. Several wireless earbuds were announced including the Earin M-2s, Monster’s AirLink Elements, the FUSE Smart Modular Wireless Earbuds, and LG Tone Free wireless earbuds.
Virtual & Augmented Reality
As expected virtual reality devices were everywhere. Compared to the Oculus Rift, most were pretty boring. Prototypes of augmented reality glasses show that this technology will be coming on strong this year.
Robots of all types and sizes
We’ve come a step closer to Rosie the Robot, yet the robotic vacuums and household devices were still a little lacking. Robots, however can perform more than household tasks. The intelligent gaming robot from Reach Robotics, an educational robot from Hanson Robot that looks like Einstein, and the robotic barista prototype from Bubble Lab give you a glimpse into the future of robots.
As usual, CES 2017 was exciting. With both startups and large manufacturers vying for the next big device, it seemed even a little more exciting than usual.