In fact, an array of pioneering technologies were showcased, indicating that the world is heading towards a more connected future.
While the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2018 was a lot about voice … Hey Google, Hey Alexa … and the race between the two to power more and more third-party devices, it was also about hardware. So, from futuristic TVs to self-driving cars to robots that can emote, there was nothing that didn’t surprise at the world’s largest tech show. In fact, an array of pioneering technologies were showcased, indicating that the world is heading towards a more connected future. Vikram Chaudhary takes a look at some of the everyday products, most controlled by voice, that are set to hit global markets soon.
Samsung has The Wall
Samsung is the largest TV manufacturer in the world, and at CES it showed the largest production-version TV the world has ever seen. It’s called The Wall. This behemoth 146-inch TV (10 feet x 6 feet) takes innovation to its extreme. It’s a modular unit—composed of smaller sections that can be fitted the way you want. So, it can be ordered in, say, a 12 feet x 4 feet size or, say, a 8 feet x 8 feet size. The possibilities are endless. It also uses a new display called MicroLED—a technology that, the company says, is leaps ahead of LED. It will be in the market in a couple of years.
LG makes TV disappear
LG’s booth at CES had a wavy tunnel directing visitors inside the stand—LG called the tunnel the OLED canyon. The unique thing was the walls of the canyon were made from curved OLED panels. It demonstrated the versatility of the panels, i.e., they can take any shape, and can be rolled like you do a sheet of paper. So, expect tomorrow’s TVs to disappear from the walls—you can roll your TV into a tube form and store it in a little box when you want to use the wall for another purpose, like hanging a painting.
Sony makes box disappear
While Samsung and LG innovated with TV screens and displays, Sony had its own take on making the TV set ‘disappear’. It displayed its ultra-short-throw projectors, which can create a bright, wall-sized image on your room’s wall. This image, as we saw, looks almost as sharp as the one produced by a high-end LED TV screen. One of the models it displayed, the LSPX- A1, can create a 120-inch 4K image from less than 1 feet from the wall. It doesn’t alter the room’s aesthetics, too—the LSPX-A1, with aluminium legs, wooden shelf and marble top, looks like a high-end piece of furniture.
Grocery store comes to your door
Robomart, a Silicon Valley start-up, unveiled the world’s first self-driving grocery store. The company said it is building a fleet of on-demand, self-driving stores that it will license to retailers who can deliver groceries at doorstep. All customers have to do is request the closest Robomart, and once it arrives they can unlock it and shop for the products they want. When they are done, they just close the doors and send it on its way. Robomart tracks what customers have picked up and sends a receipt accordingly. It’s a level-5 self-driving vehicle that requires no safety driver.
A suitcase that follows you
Travelling can be fun, but carrying a heavy suitcase can spoil that fun. A Chinese company called 90FUN displayed the world’s first self-balance auto-follow suitcase at CES 2018. Called Puppy1, it is embedded with an auto-follow chip developed by Segway, the personal transportation expert. You can summon the suitcase (if it’s within 20 metres), and if you set up the auto-follow mode, the Puppy1 will follow you wherever you go. It can maintain a balanced progress even if someone bumps into it or kicks it, and can handle slopes and bumpy roads.
Robots for humans
Honda, famous for Asimo humanoid robot, carried out four robotics demonstrations at CES 2018, all under one banner: 3E Concept—3E stands for ‘empower’, ‘experience’ and ‘empathy’. So, the 3E-D18 is an autonomous off-road workhorse based on Honda’s ATV chassis. The smaller 3E-B18 is a robotic wheelchair, aimed at empowering the disabled or elderly. The 3E-A18 can explore the emotional connection between machines and humans—it has a face that can emote. And the 3E-C18 is a little robot that has AI that can observe people, learn about them and operate autonomously. And finally, CES this year also stood out for a two-hour blackout, making the CTO & VP of IBM, Bridget Karlin, quip: “CES 2018 will be remembered as the year where the wattage of innovation was so huge that it caused a blackout!”