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News And Views

News & Views

  • 12 January 2018
  • Adam Clatworthy

What happens at CES, doesn’t stay at CES

This week I was lucky enough to attend CES 2018 in Las Vegas - or unlucky, for those of you that have been before! This year a record-breaking attendance of nearly 200,000 came to see 4,000 exhibitors and 1,200 speakers.

I’m not even going to attempt to summarise all the key announcements, otherwise we’ll be here until next week. Instead, I’m going to keep it short and sweet and give my observations on the three things that stood out for me this year. And no, it doesn’t include #powersurge

This year felt more like a motor show than a tech show. In fact, the automotive presence at CES has become so huge that the annual Detroit Auto Show had to be pushed back by a week because it finds itself competing as hard as ever to hold the spotlight.

Long gone are the days when car makers touted the latest supercharged fuels or energy efficient engines as the enablers of performance. No, very soon (if not already) your car will be powered by the likes of Nvidia, Qualcomm or Intel. It really is the chipmakers’ time to shine, enabling autonomous innovations such as Toyota’s e-Palette, Volkswagen’s I.D. Buzz and the Jaguar Land Rover Velar. And this is the main reason why CES has really exploded in recent years – bloated by the huge dollars brought in by all the major automotive brands.

This technology is absolutely vital if we’re to achieve the vision of automated driving. Yes, it’s still a long way off, but brands such as HERE Technologies are putting the necessary framework in place to ensure that all the big car brands are collaborating on the location data required to enable automated cars and smart cities.

AI and robotics is innovating at rapid pace. CES was awash with robots of all sizes – whether it’s playing Scrabble, doing the vacuuming, reading bedtime stories or collecting tennis balls – there’s a bot for your every need.

I must say that most of them are more creepy gimmicky than actually serving a useful purpose, especially as there were a lot of failures during the show, such as the high profile hiccup that hit LG's smart home helper Cloi during its press conference.

That said, there’s some pretty exciting concepts out there. Honda’s launches were particularly interesting, with its off-road 3E-D18 that could be used by builders or the emergency services and its 3E-B18 upright alternative to a wheelchair. I also loved Aflac’s robot duck to comfort children who are suffering from cancer.

Voice and AI were also big themes this year, with Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri or Cortana integrated into all the latest consumer hardware – whether it be mirrors, smoke alarms or the bath! If your device/robot/car doesn’t have voice, it’s behind. This article does a great job of summing up the latest launches in this space.

If they’re not selling it, they’re using it. Pretty much every brand at CES was using VR to help paint the vision for what their product or service delivers in the real world. Whether it’s helping you experience the Bell air taxi or drive the Kia Niro EV Concept, VR really puts you in that world.

And this is because there’s some really cool new VR devices hitting the market at a much more affordable price point. One of the biggest issues I’ve had with VR headsets is the wires impacting the experience. Lenovo has addressed this with the launch of the Mirage Solo - the world’s first untethered VR headset, running on Google’s Daydream virtual reality platform. HTC also launched its new Vive 2 VR headset and Oculus announced its Oculus Go.

So, that’s my ten cents worth. Here’s some more of the big announcements that came out at the show: