The Consumer Electronics Show aka CES has come and gone, with their 2018 show taking place this week from January 9th- 11th. Since its beginning 50 years ago, CES has become the largest gathering place for innovation and breakthrough technologies. Think Comic Con, but for the Steve Jobs and Elon Musks of the world.
At this year's CES, predictions of having a totally teched out world is coming to fruition. Everything, especially your home, will be "smart" by 2030. The recurring theme was robots speaking to other robots, as a plethora of companies announced integrations with voice assistants, Amazon's Alexa, Apple's HomeKit and Google Assistant. In as little as a few months, home appliances on the market will be Wi-fi enabled and you can send cooking instructions to your microwave with your phone or Apple Watch. With all the new releases and concept prototypes, convenience is the overarching reason for most new tech, and enhancing or digitizing our senses is big.
The amount of innovative concepts and product releases is hard to wrap our minds around. But, we've managed to list a few of our favorites. Check them out below.
In- Air Public Transportation
We blogged about Uber's 2017 announcement to partner with NASA to create Uber Air Taxis running in as little as two years. At CES, Bell Helicopter debuted their design for the futuristic concept. The electric self-piloting air taxi will host up to four passengers, will take off vertically, and act as a host of connectivity technologies, including wifi, artificial intelligence, video calling, and wireless charging.
Uber isn't the only one with ambitious ideas. Intel, in partnership with the German startup company, Volocopter, introduced the Volocopter VX—a flying taxi that more-so resembles a large drone that can fly people around. It has a flight time of 30 minutes and a maximum range of 17 miles. Not much power for busy cities like Los Angeles or NYC, but it's pretty cool. It's CES debut featured a flight test across stage, making it the first time to take flight in the U.S.
My Special Aflac Duck
This special smart toy is one for the books. The insurance company, Alfac, known for its quacking mascot, debuted My Special Aflac Duck—a robotic toy duck designed to help kids cope with their cancer treatments. Aflac and robotics toy company Sproutel, teamed up to create the robotic duck that has five touch sensors along its cheeks, under the wings, and back, allowing it to happily quack or return a hug. My Special Aflac Duck also comes with emoji-designed RFID tag accessories that attach to the toy and allow kids to express what they're feeling at that moment. When an emoji is attached, the duck will respond with a happy chirp or a painful groan—helping kids feel like they are not alone in what they're going through. Our favorite RFID tag is one shaped like a rocket ship, which pairs with an app via Bluetooth to let kids pick their happy place — an amusement park, a rainforest, a garden, to name a few — and once the rocket is tapped to the duck, it will play a soundscape of that scene to virtually “transport” kids out of the hospital room.
Straight out of Black Mirror's episode "Crocodile", CES showed that self-driving pizza vehicles are on the horizon. Toyota announced their plans for autonomous vehicles that will deliver everything and everyone. They described the see-through cargo-like vehicles as “fully-automated, next generation battery electric vehicle[s] designed to be scalable and customizable for a range of Mobility as a Service businesses.” Toyota envisions these vehicles to transport not only consumer goods and food, but also provide ride-sharing services. Business partners have already locked in commitment, including Uber, Amazon, Pizza Hut, Didi Chuxing and Mazda. They plan to debut the first vehicles at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
VR is isn't new, but improvements to functionality and UX are on the come-up. New VR products from HTC and Facebook-owned Oculus showcased products that are soon to be released this year—all of which boast wireless function. Facebook's VP of VR Hugo Barra announced their partnership with Chinese companies Xiaomi and Qualcomm to create the Oculus Go for the global market and the Mi VR Standalone for the Chinese market, specifically. The Oculus Go works without a PC and doesn't require a cellphone, either.
HTC showcased the Vive Pro—an updated PC-powered virtual reality headset that adds a higher-resolution display, integrated audio and an updated tracking system. They also introduced a new wireless adaptor that will let users stream content wirelessly using Intel’s WiGig technology.
The days of having to figure out what you're in the mood to eat or listen to is soon to be a thing of the past—the Titan Bot will do it for you. The Titan AI bot boasts facial and speech recognition which allows it to determine your mood and act accordingly. Based on the mood it picks up, the Titan bot will make recommendations for food, music and movies. With the ability to swivel, the bot can watch you as you walk around as well. In addition to its stalking capabilities, the Titan bot is essentially a smart speaker and features a touch screen, allowing you to make video calls.