Well, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is over, and I have to say: It was incredible! More than once I had to stop and gather my wits as I considered the leaps and bounds that had been made in consumer technology. And on several occasions I had to stop and think about what exactly I was going to write for you, the devoted reader.
It was tough. Every exhibitor brought their “A game,” but some products simply stood up above the rest, and so I had to give them the coveted “A+” (an arbitrary grade that I have decided to use in order to convince you that the five coolest gadgets I saw at CES are in fact statistically better than others).
So, here are my five favorite products from CES 2017.
There were a number of incredible wearable pieces of tech at CES this year, and while I am traditionally opposed to these relatively limited pieces of hardware, what I saw had me questioning my resolve against them.
Among the many sports and health monitors that crowded the show floors, there a few novel concepts that struck me as innovative and functional for everyday users.
One such product is Quantac’s intelligent drinking bracelet, which, you guessed it, monitors a user’s alcohol consumption through a sensor that tracks alcohol released through the skin (yes, apparently, alcohol is released through skin!).
The bracelet (pictured here) syncs with smartphone devices, and provides continuous readings on alcohol levels through a simple-to-read graph which displays alcohol level, as well as beverage count.
Another awesome wearable is Tapdo’s “ingenious button.” Worn as a bracelet, the button ties commands to various parts of a user’s fingers, and when pressed initiates the command. The button can be paired with a variety of devices including sound systems, apps, televisions, etc; and incorporates all four fingers and thumb. Each finger is allotted three functions and the thumb one. The functions can be changed on the fly through the smartphone app companion.
As I mentioned in my CES Day Two report, robots were a huge part of the convention this year. Almost every market was trying to figure out how to squeeze a robot in somewhere, even when it came to laundry. From companions for children to hospitality-focused sales assistants, CES showed how robots could be developed for a variety of tasks both practical and lavish.
And while your immediate reaction to these technologies may be to hang your head in defeat as the realization that robots are soon going to do just about everything for us sinks in, consider the bright side of these developments: This technology can be used to bring people closer together. For all the work that can turned over to our future overlords, there are social functions that could become invaluable.
For example, Yumii’s companion robot aimed at elderly care seeks to provide continuous social engagement for people with limited mobility. Via a pool of human volunteers, the Yumii robot provides a link for the elderly and infirm to people in a variety of fields and categories. That way elderly people can maintain social connections to friends, family and new acquaintances.
3. Engineering/programming toys
Another wonderful concept coming out of CES this year is early-development programming and engineering toys for kids. We all know how Legos helped generations of kids develop cognitive and creative skills through free-form building play. Now the toys I saw at CES will help shape children’s ability to think and play in both three-dimensional and abstract ways through building toys that incorporate programming elements.
Companies like Plezmo, Robo Wunderkind and Robotix feature innovative hardware/software toys that allow kids to build whatever they want, and then develop programs that animate their creations. Through simple color-coded instructions, children can easily assemble toys and assign tasks without having any prior knowledge of coding or programming. Most of the software uses pre-built functions that can be chained to others in order to produce different actions. But, they also offer more advanced coding features for older children looking for a new avenue to hone their programming skills.
Considering the booming economy and job market surrounding the fields of programming, engineering and tech, it is a no-brainer to consider these toys for young children.
4. 3D VR Cameras
Remember all the hullabaloo about 3D and VR (virtual reality)? Remember how everybody was talking about how it was going to be the next big thing in tech, and now nobody really talks about it outside of niche groups and disgruntled movie attendees? Well, a number of companies at CES hope to change that in the future with consumer-facing cameras that generate 3D VR recordings and photos.
While 3D and VR are currently relegated to expensive development companies, or consumed through games and software, companies like Vuze and Lucid hope to change the way people consume 3D/VR technology with affordable cameras that produce 4k quality 3D/VR videos.
The goal for these companies is to provide 3D/VR users with a more personal reason to use the expensive TVs and headsets that they have purchased outside of commercial goods. Imagine receiving a video from a friend out of the country captured on a 3D/VR camera; rather than simply ingest the footage, users could actually engage with the video being streamed. These cameras could lead to a wider adoption of 3D and VR technology by finally providing an invaluable use for the such products.
5. Smart remotes
Lastly, I saw the future of universal remotes (you know, the ones that require you to input IR codes over-and-over until one sort of works, and have a thousand buttons that do absolutely nothing), and by future I mean the actualization of universal remotes.
Sevenhugs is developing a touch-screen remote that syncs with all the tech in a single room through three mounted sensors and a one-time sync up process.
Based on the demo that I was given, set up simply requires users to mount three motion sensors around the room which allows the remote to track where it is being aimed, and then to connect the remote via Bluetooth. No more codes necessary!
As the user aims the remote around the room, the sensors detect the movement and automatically adjust the touchscreen controls accordingly. Also, if multiple devices are in a central area (such as with an entertainment system), the remote will provide a simple track wheel for the user to scroll through to pick which device they want to interact with.
So that’s it…those are my five favorite products from CES 2017!
There was a lot of amazing tech to look at this year, and I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a little overwhelming. There were so many developers doing incredible work, and they all deserve a recognition, but I had to buckle down and stick to the gadgets I found both practical and wonderful.