When there are over 4,000 exhibits and only 3 days, where does one begin?
Even with a specially designed CES app, planning for and navigating multiple venues to maximize coverage of new products at this show is an annual challenge.
While the largest and best known corporate names and booths tend to be at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC, comprised of a north, central and south hall with two levels), the most (i.e. smaller, newer, startup) companies per square foot are found at the Venetian and Sands hotel complex. There are even more hotels, as well as indoor and outdoor spaces that get used in order to accommodate all the exhibitors and the 170,000+ attendees.
At CES 2018, some categories earned their own dedicated, or expanded space:
- A growing number of startups as well as established manufacturers are employing AI. To serve this group there was a new AI Marketplace adjacent to the Robotics area.
- In addition, a new Design and Source Marketplace allowed both small and large global companies to meet and find new ways to create, produce, package and market new products.
- These areas joined the 3D Printing Marketplace which debuted just a few years ago. About 6 years ago, there were about a dozen or so exhibitors demonstrating their 3D Printing machines (Stratasys, ExOne, and Protolabs). They tended to be more focused on the DIY and “maker” market, but correctly assumed that many attendees were design and production engineers who were interested in additive manufacturing. In just the past 2 years, over 40 companies, including many crowdfunded startups, have joined this group in their own dedicated section on the show floor.
All of these innovations depend upon new uses for AI, robots, 3D printers, computer chips, sensors, motors, materials, batteries, and thousands of other manufactured components.
Global commerce, sourcing and logistics
Over the years, many of the products at CES have had applications in, and implications for, the business and industrial world that go beyond mere consumer uses.
“Speaking” (pun intended) of international trade, MARS introduced a set of earbuds that will enable “ear to ear” translation of 10 (many Asian) languages via the use of an AI program. Each user only needs to wear one of the pair, and the app does the rest.
Alibaba anchored a new area devoted to vendors who supplied components or manufacturing capabilities to makers of consumer products anywhere in the world.
But of even greater significance, they have launched their own cloud to work with (among other things) the development of smart cities.
A drone named EYESEE won an award for its ability to help with warehouse inventory management and its role in the supply chain. Drones can move more quickly, accurately and efficiently in many instances, e.g. at certain heights. They help to automate stock control and logistics operations.
For moving small parcels around enclosed sites such as warehouses or offices, TwinswHeel has developed an autonomous droid with a concealed compartment. The designers see this device as eventually being used to deliver goods within cities. http://www.twinswheel.fr/
It seems Domino’s pizza will not be the only product to be delivered in “smart cities” by autonomous vehicles!
Pizza can be delivered autonomously and retrieved with a custom app –– Other food will come in its own “store on wheels”.
Ford is experimenting with other uses for its self-driving delivery vehicle.
Proglove is a hands-free glove that allows the user to scan – pick, pack, track and trace goods in a factory or warehouse, as well as other places along the supply chain.
For workers, such a “smart glove” with a scanner integrated onto its back allows them to work hands-free. This item makes sense for retail stores, but also for manufacturing and logistics companies where goods need to be packed, unpacked and shelved.
A final note about logistics: For global businesses and industrial companies, there are freight forwarders whose software enables management of all movements throughout the supply chain in real time. One company showed how it could monitor the location of goods in one’s supply chain while they were in transit. https://www.flexport.com/
Avnet, a major industrial distributor recently acquired a sourcing service to match buyers (creators of new products) and sellers (capable of manufacturing the item). They utilize a global staff of specialists to enable this process. Helps with BOMs and RFQs (Bill of Material; Request for Quote). https://www.dragoninnovation.com/
A French startup also has a different kind of matching service – this one’s concept is to help bring together collaborative teams that want to develop and launch a new product. Jollyclick is a dating site for projects, launched to enable collaborative teams to be formed. Its goal is to match partners with projects, where skills can complement those of others interested in developing a new product.
At CES, this technology is always presented in an area designated as “3D Printing”. Each year during the past decade, more and more vendors, including a growing number from China, have displayed their latest machines.
Sellers of scanners and materials used for printing have joined this section of the show. All exhibitors displayed samples of their unique capabilities and finished products.
CES Innovation Awards
Each year, a competition is held by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) honoring outstanding design and engineering covering many categories of consumer technology products.
This year, a “quantum computer” from IBM was prominent at the entrance to the hall where all the winners and honorees were displayed. Staff explained how a “QC” worked and what “qubits” were, i.e. unlike just 0’s and 1’s (binary digits used by traditional computers) a QC’s bits can be indefinite. Most impressive was the incredible speed at which simultaneous computations can now be made, thus accelerating the ability to analyze huge data sets for AI and many other purposes.
Robots and AI
Human versus machine. An industrial automation company combined robotics and AI to help train a person in playing ping pong. This robot from Omron is capable of adjusting to the level of its opponent. https://industrial.omron.us/en
Soft Robot is a solution for companies who need to pick and place fragile items requiring the grip and feel of a human hand, e.g. packing eggs and delicate foods, or items with irregular shapes and sizes. Air-filled grippers allow this to pick and place items without breakage. https://www.softroboticsinc.com/
Combineo is a French company with an app that allows one to select furniture and other household items from a catalog and then “place” them into a room in one’s home or office to see how it would look. Items can be viewed in 3D and rotated 360 degrees. This tool could equally be used in warehouses, factories and in real estate developments. http://www.combineo.fr/?lang=en
There were dozens of devices introduced to protect property from unwanted intruders as well as to monitor activities of occupants of one’s home – ranging from infants to pets. Most involved interconnected video cameras with motion and sound detectors that could be accessed via a smartphone app.
One company in the security area (for patrolling large industrial or office complexes, or college campuses) pairs an autonomous Segway-type of robot possessing sound and motion detection with a drone that can fly above, follow, and record video of any criminal activity. https://www.turingvideo.com/
(Note: There is a new 2 inch cube videocam available from Wyze Labs – which was not shown at CES — that provides high quality sound and motion detection for under $25, or a fraction of the cost of most others! If you don’t need a doorbell feature, this item operates indoors, needs no batteries, and has no subscription fee — but does require an electric outlet. https://www.wyzecam.com/)
Toyota was one of many auto companies showing off their futuristic designs and features.
The use of LEDs to spell out messages on the rear window is one idea that a member of my family came up with more than 5 years ago! (and sadly illustrates why such a small percent of inventions fail due to a lack of marketing and promotion.)
An inexpensive app was introduced along with a small dashboard mounted plastic lens that allows anyone to add a heads up display (HUD) to their vehicle. With a specially designed app, anyone with access to Google maps or Waze from a smartphone can now project maps and road signs directly into their line of sight. It especially helps in low visibility conditions. https://hudway.co/
Attention getting 3D videos and images appear to float in the air. A device that enables the projection of objects in this manner can be used to display products in stores (e.g. at entrance, at end of aisle) or at trade show booths. Such images can be at eye level or above a crowd to grab attention. http://www.3dholodisplay.com/
PUPs and a Puppy
The user can take a PUP handheld scanner and place it above whatever object or document is of interest. With the push of a button, a set of red lines helps to center and outline the image to be captured for transmission to others or for printing.
Last year (and again this year), Modobag – a suitcase that a user can sit on and ride, with a built in charger for devices — was a big sensation.
At CES 2018, Chinese firm 90Fun unveiled its Puppy 1 suitcase equipped with a custom auto-following chip and Segway’s self-balancing technology to prevent falling over. It can drive around either controlled by a human, or all by itself.
In the upper right of this picture you can see the pop up handle that can be used to pull it manually.
There is a new mosquito trap for municipalities, cities and even nations where diseases are carried and transmitted by these insects.
A unique blend of chemical “scents” attract the female mosquito, and then a vacuum sucks them into a basket. This product also records the number and time when caught and other data for analysis. Retails for about $1,000. https://qista.eu/en/
In just 3 months, a luminous safety device for motorcyclists was created and shown at CES. It could just as easily be used by bicyclists and riders of similar vehicles to indicate directional turns or the fact that they were braking. Besides consumers, messenger services could use this to help prevent accidents and injuries. http://sas-road-light.us/en
At CES 2018 there was a session called Digital Money Forum to discuss ways that mobile phones and plastic credit cards are moving us all toward a ‘cashless’ society.
In addition, there was a lot of buzz about cryptocurrencies (such as Bitcoins, Ripple, Dash) and the emergence of many more virtual” currencies. Is this a bubble, or will global trade embrace this new technology built on “blockchains”? Stay tuned.