Innovations, Insights

Glimpses of the future at CES 2017

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This year the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the world’s largest show of technology innovators and start-ups, attracted 175,000 people from 150 countries. For 50 years it has gained a reputation as the major tech innovation event of the year. I saw a broad mix of AI, connected mobility and devices, smart gadgets, VR/AR, astonishing displays, and countless robot toys for kids of all ages.

There are a few companies, primarily through behind the scenes partnerships, that are completely changing the future. Nvidia is one of them. Nvidia has become a center of interest of virtually every other tech company of size and significance; AI is one of, if not the primary area of interest and investment at Google, Facebook, Apple and others.

Another is Amazon. The retail giant was everywhere at CES without having a big official presence. Amazon’s Echo/Alexa virtual assistant is on a mission to dominate your smart connected home. Will you choose to accept it?

“Almost every aspect of our daily lives is being connected,” said Gary Shapiro, CTA president/CEO, “and every industry is becoming a technology industry.”

Almost every automotive company is working on driverless cars, powered by dramatic advances in computer vision and deep learning.

Ideally, the connected cars will help eliminate traffic jams and reduce air pollution by sharing road conditions, planning routes dynamically and locating available parking.

In the ChangHong booth, I saw EEG brain control device. Embedded in a headrest a foot away, this smart sensor picked up enough brain waves for a user to control the speed of a car in a video game!

Toyota says their car, the Concept-i with ‘Yui’, can measure your emotional response to the places you drive, using the information to build a relationship with you.

Will the advances in AI, robotics, and the IoT, completely transform the way we live, play, work, and learn?

The Panasonic booth at CES 2017 has a lot to offer. Panasonic has recently partnered with the city of Denver, CO to bring a concept of a smart city to a reality. Creating “A Better Life, A Better World” by bringing together the multiple spaces that connect today’s consumers and support a greener future, integrating smart, sustainable technologies.

Panasonic and IBM develop Cognitive Personal Concierge solutions with Watson. This not only benefits the consumer but also allows hotels to upgrade traveler experiences in the very competitive hospitality market.

Panasonic BalloonCam captures 360-degree images of people walking around its booth. It can project real-time 360 video in 4K as it flies around. The floating ball technology can help to better engage event attendees and provide advertisers with a new canvas to expand their creativity.

It’s impossible to analyze every novelty device appearing at the show. Many gadgets there are inessential and irrelevant. Lots of others are a copy of existing products already on the market. And only a few are innovative, useful, well designed and solve a real problem that other products don’t.

I had a chance to see one of the most unexpected innovative devices at the show, Willow, a smart breast pump, which slides into a nursing mother’s bra and allows for hands-free quite pumping. It can also track output for them, and the pump’s bags can be stored right in the freezer and cut open when they need to fill a bottle.

I wish I had this device when I had a newborn baby! Willow CEO Naomi Kelman said, “We believe in bringing dignity and humanity to the breast pumping experience – because women shouldn’t have to undress or give up who they are or how they move to be a mother.”

After three days of CES excitement, I was ready for meditation and relaxation. 

I found a new breed of wearable devices promising to put you in “the mindful zone.” Companies, like Neurosky, Interaxon, and, while having a different approach, they all help you to relax by controlling your brain waves and training your focus.

This is where the power of technology meets the power of your mind.

Neurosky‘s brain powered wireless electroencephalography EEG devices and apps deliver decades of brainwave technology research and provide tools for developers to create their own brain-powered apps.

I try InteraXon’s Muse headband, which has been on a market for over a year. Muse detects EEG activity going on in your brain. It translates those signals into sounds, like waves crashing on a beach when your mind is active and birds singing when you are in a calm, relaxed and meditative state.

I applaud the idea to inject high-tech into a centuries-old tradition. But I have decided, in addition to my Muse EEG meditation device to go for a long walk barefoot on Santa Monica beach to relax after CES 2017.

Olga Weiss

Chief Creative Officer

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