CES is the annual event that gives all your favourite brands and up and coming companies the opportunity to reveal the biggest trends and newest developments in consumer technology. Previous CES highlights include Philips revealing the first ever VCR in 1970, the introduction of OLED televisions in 2009 and last year's announcement of TCL's Blackberry KeyONE (the first devices produced following TCL's takeover and featuring AndroidOS).
So it is safe to say that when it comes to seeing what technologies are going to be big in the foreseeable future it is sensible to look at the announcements made at each years CES. This year we have seen a number of big announcements from household brands including Samsung, LG and Uber. But we've also seen announcements of new technology from smaller companies who are hoping to break onto the consumer market in 2018 or have their technology utilised by bigger brands in the products their R&D departments are currently working on.
The Internet of Everything
The biggest thing to take note of is the prevalence of smart devices. We are very much moving away from the Internet of Things towards the Internet of Everything. It looks as though any consumer item that can feasibly be connected to the internet will soon be connected to the internet. Shoes? Hello E-Vone Footwear. Wine Rack? Caveasy have got your back. Mirror? Introducing the HiMirror Mini. What we can learn from this is that with the increasing numbers of people getting on board with Google's Home and Amazon's Echo brands are scrabbling to keep us constantly connected in a similar way.
I hear you wondering what the products I've already mentioned purpose's are as part of the IoE. Lets start with the (Cav)easy One, the wine rack. The Caveasy One wine rack connects to an application on your mobile device which helps all you "wine lovers who want to enjoy their wine simply". Take a photo of your bottle, register where you add it in the rack. Your future self can then use the app to make food pairing suggestions and will even light the rack to make locating the bottle easier.
Now for the mirror. HiMirror is an internet connected, Amazon Alexa featuring mirror that can actually ruin your very self worth. I'm sure that isn't how it is supposed to be thought of but just hear me out. The mirror can use its built in camera to analyse your face and tell you exactly what things you need to work on and even more scarily how you can go about changing those red spots or dark circles under your eyes. That is some real terrifying Snow White business going on but at least Alexa can order the concealer the mirror tells you you need.
Lastly, lets talk about the shoes. E-Vone weren't the only company to reveal some sort of smart new shoe tech. But they were the only ones to state that their connected shoes don't even need to be connected to a mobile device to work. At first the premise of the shoe seems a little silly. You see, the French company have designed the shoes with a system that can send an alert if the wearer happens to fall. But think about it, how many times have we heard news reports of elderly people taking a tumble and not being found for hours or days? With these connected shoes as soon as this scenario plays out, an alert can be sent to family, carers or emergency services. It's actually quite genius. When you think about it, there is actually scope for application of this tech into work boots and hiking boots as an emergency man down system.
AI is coming on in leaps and bounds and there are those who look at the development of this technology as driving us towards a Skynet situation FAST (10 bonus points if you get the reference). As already mentioned the use of Google Home and Amazon Echo/Alexa have been growing in numbers and these systems could be seen as the trail blazers of the AI arena.
Given this, LG has announced their new AI software that will be rolling out across a variety of devices from this year, ThinQ. LG intend to provide this software for use by hardware companies who wish to add an AI/IoT element to their products. What ThinQ is designed to do is to learn the ways in which consumers use products and adapt in order to meet the users needs. One example provided by LG looked at their new smart air conditioning unit that will learn the daily use patterns and eventually will automatically adjust the settings with no input from the consumer. Big news for ThinQ is that both Amazon and Google have signed on to integrate with the software meaning that you should be able to use ThinQ enabled devices with your smart speaker of choice.
Another development that could change your day to day life is that of Aipoly. It isn't a consumer gadget per say but, it is an AI system that allows any retailer to roll out fully autonomous stores somewhat similar to the Amazon concept store we saw in Seattle. The system allows the proprietor to manage inventory, gain insights into their customers habits and do away with checkout systems. The shoppers simply use a mobile app to create an account that then charges them upon leaving for the products that they have taken. The AI then learns how people use the store, what products they purchase and an abundance of other stats and helps the proprietor make decisions on how to run their business.
Artificial intelligence also intersects with another trend that I'd say isn't going to be quite as prevalent in the consumer market just yet, Autonomous cars. But if there is any way that we are going to see consumers interacting with this technology it will probably be thanks to Uber and Volkswagen. It was announced that these two power houses of their own arena's were partnering up with Nvidia in order to develop driverless cars. For Uber these will eventually be rolled out as part of a full fleet of artificially intelligent driverless taxis. Volkswagen on the other hand are looking at using Nvidia's AI systems to push the I.D. Buzz (their new futuristic camper van) even further with deep learning and autonomous driving. Nvidia's Drive IX also ties in features that allow facial recognition to unlock the car, gesture control and of course a voice assistant a la Amazon's Alexa.
On top of these two key trends we've seen a variety of other interesting technology announced that doesn't fit into the headings but definitely deserve a mention.
First up is a device developed by South Korean company Innomdle Lab. Sgnl is a wristband that will change the way consumers communicate. The wristband connects to your phone via bluetooth (nothing new here) but has an inbuilt body conduction unit (BCU) that allows you to take calls via your fingertips. That's right! When a call comes in, you simply raise your hand and point your finger towards your ear and hey presto you can hear the person on the other end of the line (see below). Don't worry if you're concerned about having an additional wearable. Just pop the Sgnl onto your existing watch whether that's a smart watch or a traditional watch and carry on with your daily activities.
Another interesting development is one by a French publisher. Shortédition have developed the Short Stories Distributor to stand in areas where people are more than likely going to be waiting for a short period of time including train stations and dental surgeries. Whilst waiting, people can operate the screen-less device by selecting a button that indicates how long they have and will instantly and randomly provided with a piece of written content. The content you receive could be anything news article, poem or short story tailored to how long you have to read it. Personally I think this is a brilliant idea as it is a great way of getting consumers to engage with content they may never have picked up otherwise and will provide a unique break from the constant bombardment of our senses from the luminous white light of our mobile devices (yes, I am aware of the irony that this blog post is most likely going to read on a mobile device).
- Sony have announced 3 new Experia mobiles all with wide angle lenses allowing you to capture more of the world around you in your selfies.
- Bellus 3D demoed their 3D face scanning system by printing out a 3D replica of Eric Chen's face capture on their camera and app.
- Kodak are entering the world of cryptocurrencies.
- LG have revealed a roll out OLED TV measuring 65in that can be stored in a box when not in use.
- Samsung have announced a modular television system that can be produced in custom sizes all the way up to 146in which at this size is aptly called The Wall.
All in all, there has been a varied bag of tech announced at this year's show and I'm fairly excited to see it all come to market and how we as consumers engage with it all. What are you excited to see? Let us know in the comments.