New and Noteworthy at CES 2019

The world’s biggest consumer tech show, CES, just concluded it’s 2019 run. With nearly every major tech and innovation-focused company in the world ascending to Las Vegas, CES 2019 offered the world an interesting glimpse into tech world’s crystal ball. With so much buzz and hype swirling around the event, we asked a selection of Smashing’s team to explore what trends from CES 2019 will have the biggest impact on the consumer space.

 

Bill Wright, Technical Director

With so much news coming out of this year’s CES, one of the major trends that is really coming into its own is connected cars. Major manufacturers, such as Ford and Audi, showcased plans for 4G and 5G connected cars with data plans that operate as Wi-Fi hotspots and allow virtual assistant integration with Alexa, Google, and Bixby. A necessary step for the future of autonomous vehicles which will require big, reliable data streams to maximize their potential and ensure their safety. Qualcomm showcased its C-V2X technology suite, Cellular vehicle-to-everything, which will allow cars to talk to each other and with everything around them. Harman demonstrated new steps in vehicle biometrics with its facial recognition features, allowing your vehicle to recognize you and personalize your in-car experience.

 

Steven Rose, Associate Technical Director

Something that caught my eye at CES is NVidia’s release of a new graphics card that supports raytracing. Raytracing has been used for CG film production and offline rendering for a long time, but NVidia finally has the hardware and software that will provide real-time raytraced graphics. The gist of this technology means that real-time 3D graphics will look better and require less work from developers and artists. When scenes are rendered they will no longer be composed of colored triangles (as is the case with traditional real-time 3D rendering). Instead, light will behave like a particle that bounce off surfaces.

This means that reflections, diffraction, and refraction all works ‘naturally’ as a result of using this technology. On top of that, NVidia has utilized deep learning to upscale graphics, converting a low-resolution image to a high resolution one in real-time. I’m excited to see more uses of AI in graphics over the next few years.

 

Lisa Forsyth, Senior Director of Strategic Accounts

It’s been a year of unprecedented development in Machine Learning, so it’s not surprising that Artificial Intelligence took center stage at CES 2019. There are too many cool and interesting innovations to cover in one sitting, so I’ve picked a few wearables that stand out, some smart home technology that will streamline your morning routine, and wrap up with the product I want to right now!

With respect to wearables, tons of new smartwatches were on display, all offering different variations of Artificial Intelligence features that measure, monitor, recommend, and predict. The few stand-outs to me were:

  • The Withings Move ECG smartwatch that includes an integrated electrocardiogram monitor that can detect an irregular heartbeat. If you’ve ever had to wear a heart monitor, like I did a number of years back, this would be a welcome relief from the not-so-light device and its multiple connecting electrodes!
  • There’s also the Mercedes-Benz-branded Vívoactive 3 from Garmin, a smartwatch that monitors your physical and mental state and passes that information along to your car.  Stressed out?  You’ll be recommended routes with the least aggravating road conditions available, music to sooth your nerves, and how about a seat massage?
  • The Matrix PowerWatch 2 is sweet because of its multiple power options—it can charge itself from your body heat and has a solar panel around the edge to harness the power of the sun. That’s really where the appeal ends for me. It runs a custom OS so you won’t be able to use it with much else.
  • Smartwatches weren’t the only wearables on display, and the introvert in me is curious about the OrCam MyMe wearable camera and its Artificial Intelligence capabilities of face and text recognition that can be used to tag and organize people.  It’s interesting conceptually, but I’m not yet sold on its practicality.

With the IoT (Internet of Things) market booming, it’s no wonder there were tons of new smart home products looking to make their mark. Imagine streamlining your morning routine into something like this: the Lenovo Smart Clock, a Google Assistant-enabled alarm clock with a 4-inch touch-enabled IPS display, knows your sleep routine and wakes you up gently with light, makes getting out of bed more appealing by turning up your smart thermostat and powering up that smart coffee pot. And, it can control other smart-home devices all from your bedside. Once you’re up and out of bed, you get yourself ready in front of the Capstone Connected Home Smart Mirror, where you can check traffic, weather, keep up to date on social media feeds, and even type out emails using the mirror’s touchscreen. Now that you’re ready and out the door, the Evovacs Deebot Ozmo 960 robot vacuum cleaner will use its Artificial Intelligence and Visual Interpretation technology to learn about your home, create a custom cleaning plan, and keep your floors clean while detecting objects other robot vacuums can’t. No need to worry about your pet’s accidents getting smeared throughout the house! And speaking of pets, did you rush out the door and forget to clean the litterbox? The PurrSong LavvieBot has your back–it doesn’t just clean, add litter, and deodorize itself, but also monitors your cat’s weight and toilet schedule and sends the data to its app. Meow!

Out of all the awesome technology on display at CES this year, what I want most of all is a Cemtrex SmartDesk! It’s a fully automatic standing desk with a built-in Windows PC and three 24-inch touch monitors, tons of other features like built-in wireless headphones and wireless charging for all your devices. The desk goes beyond mere touch support with its integration of Leap Motion technology—it supports air gestures so you can control in midair. It’s only $4,500. I can expense that, right? I’d be like Chief John Anderton from Minority Report!

 

Sean Sehr, Senior Front-End Developer

A thing that caught my attention was that a couple of companies are showing off wearables aimed towards rehab patients. exoRehab uses AI to give patients a “Personalized Rehabilitation Guidance” during their neuromuscular rehab. Flint Rehab is showing off a wearable activity tracker designed for stroke survivors.

On an entirely different note, I noticed that Hyundai was showing off a concept for a walking car.  A big aim of the car is for first responders, being able to climb over rubble or rough terrain, but other possible uses also have a lot of potential, such as a New York taxi lifting itself up to make ingress easier for a person in a wheelchair.

 

Ben Fox, Senior Developer

A theme I’m seeing CES are products designed at making your home smarter in a way designed to fit in subtly and with existing design and décor. From devices that are built into items that are already part of your daily routine, like Capstone Connected Home’s Smart Mirror, or devices that look more like art than tech a la Mui’s new smart display,  companies are reacting to consumer desire to have the convenience of connected devices without having to compromise their own personal style. One of, or perhaps the show stealer in this regard is LG’s rollable OLED TV which has several modes designed for different types of use, and will allow for a room to be laid out around a smaller, intentionally designed package rather than an imposing, black screen. Whether consumers will find added value in these specific executions remains to be seen, but I’m excited to see what comes next down this road!

The abundance of selective-assistance technology in both large- and small-scale devices is also interesting. Take some of the new Google Assistant devices, which offer a specific subset of Assistant features in a much smaller, low-footprint, and (probably) cheaper devices. Want to view just the weather? Only traffic? There’s an app a device for that. Razer previewed a similar idea with the integration of Amazon’s Alexa into its keyboards. On the larger scale can some impressive selective assistance technology include a bread making robot and a laundry folding robot. On the smaller scale and perhaps more applicable to the everyday consumer, a tooth brushing robot! Niche hardware solutions are slowly gaining momentum into the space currently dominated by niche software solutions (read: apps). Of course, even the best hardware will still be impacted by its software, and perhaps to an even greater degree, its UI/X design.

 

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