Last month, the CES took place in Vegas. In 1967 the “Consumer Electronics Show” started in NYC with 250 exhibitors and 17 thousand attendees. This year the three locations in Las Vegas saw 3,900 exhibitors and 170 thousand visitors from more than 150 countries. It´s a big deal.
If you didn´t get the chance to go, here´s a quick roundup for you – at least for the things touching on our industry.
The gigantic show, of course, focuses on consumer electronics, but as the event´s organizers rightfully claim on the website, “It has served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies for 50 years — the global stage where next-generation innovations are introduced to the marketplace.”
That´s why it´s worth a look, especially since this year features topic sections on robotics and machine intelligence as well as autonomous vehicles.
So, what´s the latest on that?
More than “Alexa, tell me a Chuck Norris joke!”
In fact, many say that AI and Robotics took center stage at this year´s CES.
As far as robots are concerned, aside from the more playful varieties like a ping-pong robot, there was Sofia, the most advanced humanoid robot to date from Hanson Robotics. Their focus is on social robots with a human-like demeanor. And, well, see for yourself. Sofia can even crack a joke, in this video.
But it gets more down-to-earth as well. Ever heard of the Laundroid? Actually, one of my favorites. Believe it or not, it is a sort of closet where you pull out a big drawer at the bottom, throw in your unfolded clothes, and the Laundroid folds them and neatly sorts them into the shelves above. Either by category (pants to pants, T-shirts to T-shirts) or by family member. Not bad, eh?
What about self-driving cars? Well, there surely was no lack of hype on that topic during CES 2018. On top of a tsunami of announcements from practically all big car manufacturers, there were also some interesting component guys present. Take for example Innoviz Technologies from Israel, who build remote sensing applications to actually get the autonomous car on the road.
And there´s the catch. As The Verge points out: “After an onslaught of announcements about self-driving cars at CES, it’s almost hard to believe that even if you want to buy an autonomous vehicle, you can’t.” The people at The Verge insist that the self-driving car still is years away.
But, hey, so are other products already presented in Vegas. Reportedly, LG’s new CLOi products failed repeatedly at their press conference, and Sony’s Aibo publicly ignored commands.
So, what’s the takeaway? For me, three, really. First, in 2018 robotics and unmanned will make further significant progress in becoming part of everyday life. From robots folding your laundry to machines performing room-service in hotels or sweeping the floors at airports, to self-driving vehicles and human-like robots. The future is here.
Secondly, what struck me was the predominance of Asian, in particular, Chinese players. While your average Joe probably has never heard of the likes of Baidu, they already are forces to be reckoned with.
Last but not least, in what many define as the brave new world of robotics and unmanned, the Vegas CES this year held a gentle reminder to us humans to be humble.
It was simple rain that apparently caused a two-hour long power outage at the event, triggering evacuations. One day in the not-too-distant future almost everything we do on a daily basis might depend on some sort of machine. But without power, you will even have to fold the socks yourself again!
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