CES2017 Highlights

/CES2017 Highlights

Where to start? Unsurprisingly, the biggest tech show of the year produced a plethora of fascinating stuff. Unfortunately, none of us at LucidCX were there in person, but the great thing about living in 2017 is that we were able to live vicariously through others online.

Many manufacturers used CES to introduce new smartphones. There were too many to mention them all, and while there was some interesting features, there were no major surprises. In a sign of the drive to VR, there was the ASUS ZenFone AR which integrates Google’s Tango and Daydream software, bringing Augmented and Virtual Reality closer to the mainstream.

We also took another step closer to gesture recognition with the Huawei Honor Magic which uses AI to respond to to physical sensors. Upon picking up the phone your face and fingerprint will be scanned to verify it’s you, before displaying any notifications.

Qualcomm announced its new Snapdragon 835 which is expected to have better battery life and provide for a superior VR performance. We’ll look forward to checking it out for ourselves later this year.

There’s been a lot of buzz about how the smartphone market is slowing down. That’s true — it would be impossible to match the huge expansion in the smartphone market in the last few years — but more than a billion and a half smartphones are sold every year. The latest smartphones might not carry the same buzz of excitement as some of the other tech at CES 2017, but they’ll be what we use to interact with it.

And what we’ll be interacting with is the Internet of Things. IoT devices were out in their droves. Think of a common item, put ‘smart’ in front of it and it was probably there: smart fridges, smart windows, smart coffee machines, even smart hairbrushes.

The only question, as with all IoT stuff, is do they actually work? Smart gadgets can be fantastic, but not if you spend an hour resetting them for every minute you save on manual labour. And of course, getting them all to talk to one another can be another challenge.

The Sevenhugs Smart Remote attempts to address that problem by allowing you to control all of your smart home devices with one remote that closely resembles a TV remote. Using sensors placed around your room, the Sevenhugs Smart Remote’s touch screen adapts according to the device you’re pointing it at.

We’re also interested in seeing more of the Fortress UTM and CUJO systems both of which focus on the problem of IoT security, which we expect to become an increasing issue over the next few years.

The most fun area of the show was the robots of course. Who doesn’t love robots?

Kuri is one of the cuter home robots available. And we certainly wouldn’t mind getting one. It can follow you around, playing podcasts or even reading to your children. There were also Lego robots (yes, please!), Einstein robots and robots to look after the elderly.

Robots are a perfect example of the state of progress with both IoT and AI: they’re fascinating and sometimes really handy, but 90% of our fascination is what we’re expecting from the next generation.

The barista robot, for example, is pretty cool.  In a few years it’ll be an industry changer, for now it’ll probably be too slow for a busy coffee shop. Of course, some of us at Lucid are already imagining the home version that will bring a cup upstairs when our alarm goes off in the morning….

Plenty of health tech was on display too — another growth area — with wearables to tell you everything from when you are most fertile to how much blood alcohol there is in your system.

As for the VR… we could call 2016 the year of VR, except that 2017 will be too. And 2018. And… maybe we should just say that VR is finally going mainstream. VR highlights? There were plenty but we’d quite like to try out the Vive Tracker — a device that can turn almost anything into a VR controller.

TPCast have designed an add-on that turns your HTC Vive VR experience into a completely wireless one. This is reported to be available from mid 2017, along with many new accessories, including a baseball bat and deluxe audio strap. The world’s first VR subscription services are also being launched and claim to be “Netflix for virtual reality”.

Elsewhere in the show, TVs got thinner, and cars got cleverer (although not always). We also liked the look of Razor’s Project Valerie. It’s probably a little heavy for us at the moment, but the idea of a laptop with three screens? Oooh.

Finally, our vote for oddity of the show goes to Spinali Design’s vibrating jeans which come incorporated with a GPS that vibrates to tell you which way to turn, as well allowing others to ‘ping’ the user and vibrate their jeans. Those…we may have to ban from the office. Things could get much too silly.