CES 2017: Top highlights from a CES first-timer

By Taylor Phillips

This month I was honored to attend my very first CES 2017, one of the biggest consumer electronics trade shows in the world held annually in Las Vegas, Nevada. 175,000 people in the tech industry attended this year, from a wide variety of industries including automotive, fitness, health, beauty, animal care, extreme sports, and even the beer industry. If you were ever unsure how ubiquitous technology is in our lives, spend just one day at CES.

I was there supporting a few of my clients including:

Amazfit

Amazfit

YI

YI

The Open Connectivity Foundation

The Open Connectivity Foundation

I also got the chance to walk around the floor and see some other innovative emerging technologies. Here are a few top trends I noticed at CES 2017:
 

Top Trends:

IoT: everything is “smart” 
This one comes as no surprise, as it was predicted by Blanc & Otus’ very own Jay Anderson. However, despite all these accurate assumptions on IoT’s presence at CES, I was not prepared for the extent to which IoT would influence each industry. There were smart refrigerators, smart air conditioners, smart socks, smart helmets, smart mirrors, smart pet feeders, smart toothbrushes, smart bath toys, you name it! Some highlights include:

Netatmo Weather Station
The Netatmo Personal Weather Station is a tool to help you master your own climate measurement from your smartphone. The indoor module measures temperature, humidity, air quality, CO2, and it features a sound meter that alerts you when you need to air out your home to bring down its pollution levels. The outdoor module gives you real-time weather information such as temperature, humidity and air quality, gathered right at your doorstep. But the best part is that by analyzing past readings and utilizing the real-time tracking of your environment, you can forecast your own weather!

PicoBrew
PicoBrew brings us the world’s first automatic all-grain home-brewing appliance. PicoBrew makes it possible for anyone to not only brew their own craft beer in the comfort of their home, but also store that beer in a smart keg. KegSmarts turns almost any simple kegerator into a smart home device allowing you to precisely control the beer serving temperature from your smartphone and display detailed information about each beer on tap.

RSH-Tech Company Limited
RHS-Tech Company Limited was displaying a Roomba-esque smart window cleaner, capable of scaling the sides of buildings and walls to clean windows. The device is able to sense the edges of the building or window and turn around before rolling off the edge.

Hi Mirror
Perhaps the most unique smart device I came across was a smart mirror by Hi Mirror. Hi Mirror assesses your skin conditions including wrinkles, fine lines, complexion, dark circles, dark spots, red spots, and pores to point out your “problem areas” and offer skin care tips. To add to it, the booth at CES had the mirror linked up to a smart scale that tells you your weight and BMI. You can sync your skin analysis results and solution data with your smart phone app to get round-the-clock beauty and fitness advice.

Personally, I don’t think I want my face and body analyzed by my own mirror on a daily basis, but this was an interesting application of smart technology.

 

 

 

Artificial Intelligence in cars:
The automotive section at CES was nothing if not breathtaking. All your big-name car companies were exhibiting including Ford, Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes, Chrysler, and more. Many companies were using virtual reality to show off their futuristic, AI-capable concept cars. These companies pour billions of dollars into making (or sometimes 3D-printing) these elaborately designed concept cars that they usually have no intention of mass-producing and often don’t yet have the technological capabilities to do so. A Toyota spokesperson told me that it is an opportunity to gauge customer reaction to radical designs or emerging technology, to help the company decide if it's something they should invest in and eventually pursue. Some highlights of these unique cars include:

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Toyota’s Concept-i
Toyota’s Conecpt-i car is a futuristic vehicle that incorporates all electric, self-driving, artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities into a transportation device that is meant to be “less of a machine and more of a pal.” Yui, the name of the automotive UX program, anticipates your needs and informs the car so that Concept-i can consider and execute that next action accordingly. For example, if it is too foggy out for you to clearly see the road, Yui will recognize your stress levels rising via facial recognition technology and offer to take over driving.

Volkswagen I.D.  Electric Concept
The Volkswagen I.D. Electric Concept is an all-electric four-door hatch back with autonomous driving capabilities and a 373-mile range on a single charge. The I.D. Concept will have a 0-60 time in the 7 second range, and like BMW’s i3, VW plans a rear wheel drive, rear electric motor layout. VW is very serious in its development in electric cars and has even said it hopes to be selling 1 million electric models by 2025 with 30 different electric models across multiple brands.

Divergent 3D-Printed Car
Divergent’s 3D-printed car is a tandem, one-door, two-seater super car called the Blade. Unlike many other cars in the automotive section, it is actually human-driven and gasoline-powered. Rather than representing a future in the way we drive and fuel our cars, it is disrupting the mechanical industry and the way we make cars. By 3D-printing the car, it aims to radically reduce the materials, energy use, pollution and cost of car manufacturing, and to put new tools of production and innovation into the hands of small teams around the world.

 

Wearables:
What started out as a fad worn almost exclusively on the wrist to track fitness has grown into an entire industry of niche accessories tracking a slew of bodily functions. Wearable technology now defines anything from your average smart watch, to a virtual reality headset, smart clothing, or “hearables” aka smart earbuds or headphones. Some of the highlights include:

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The Philips Health Watch
The Philips Health Watch has the potential to save countless users’ lives without having them leave their homes. The medical-grade wristwatch tracks and store data such as resting heart rate, heart-rate recovery, and resting respiration rate, with clinically validated measurements and algorithms to monitor for heart attacks and cardiac arrest. The watch connects to a smart scale and blood-pressure monitor, all of which securely transmit data to your physician.

 

PIQ Fitness Tracker
The PIQ fitness sensor is a multifaceted fitness sensor that can attaches to various sport equipment and tracks data specific to that sport. For example, you can secure the sensor to your tennis racket and track swing speed, spin, stroke type, shot-by-shot analysis and progress over time. The sensor can also be attached to snow skis, kite boards, golf clubs and boxing gloves. 

Under Armour’s Athlete Recover Sleepwear
The Under Armour Athlete Recovery Sleepwear is lined with a bio-ceramic fabric that mimics the effects of Infrared therapy by reflecting heat back to your body while you sleep and improve blood flow and aid muscle recovery.

 

Honorable Mentions:

ELI Zero
ELI Zero is an all-electric neighborhood vehicle, slightly smaller than a smart car with a legal speed of up to 25mph and about 75 miles range on a single charge. It is not made for freeways or long commutes but in a 7-mile long city with horrible parking like San Francisco, this could be pretty useful. Plus, its only $10,000.

Kodak EKTRA smartphone
Kodak EKTRA smartphone is a  professional-quality, photography-first smartphone. Designed to look like your classic point-and-shoot, KODAK EKTRA is a unique hybrid of photography innovation and DSLR functionality. As one of the exhibitors told me, it’s a camera with a smartphone, rather than a smartphone with a camera.

Vibra Fit
Vibra Fit is an exercise platform that uses vibration technology to allow the body to naturally react to an oscillating motion, forcing the body to stabilize using its core muscles when both the right and left sides of the vibration plate move up and down. Apparently this contraption helps tone and strengthen muscles, reduce cellulite and boosts blood circulation and metabolism. I’m not sure if I buy into this whole “vibration technology” concept but far be it from me to stop anyone from trying to shake up their fitness routine! Plus, it was pretty entertaining to watch.

 

 

Overall, CES was an eye-opening experience into the future of technology and innovation. My biggest takeaway is that technology can and likely will be incorporated into any and every industry and aspect of our lives. CES is a great way to gain an understanding of this and it was fascinating to see in what ways technology can continue to shape and improve our society.