Unless you live in a cave, tech is part of your life. And if you do live in a cave… keep doing you. The annual celebration of all things tech took place in Las Vegas this year from January 8th through the 11th. You can almost literally find everything tech-related in the thousands of exhibits that fill the convention center and overflow into the neighboring casinos and outdoor space. From the odd (Smart toilet?) to the awed (LG’s 8k roll-up TV), there is plenty of eye candy to keep the hundreds of thousands of CES attendees busy.
2019 Tech – Evolution, not Revolution
In all this tech, the biggest thing missing was a new revolutionary idea. Much of what was presented simply built on what we already have. The tech from the last several years simply evolved. TV’s got bigger with higher resolution. AI got more advanced. Self-driving cars got one step closer. Audio got a louder. Homes got smarter. All these things are great, certainly. Tech advancement seems to accelerate more each year. However, it leaves me wondering. What is the next truly innovative tech idea going to be and when is it going to come?
I walked dozens of miles through the exhibits and presentations at CES. I was at times amazed, and at times amused. I’ve put together my personal highlights, good and bad from CES 2019.
One of the things I’m most excited for is the continuing evolution of smart home tech. Whether you say “Alexa” or “Hey Google”, the end results are what’s important.
Check who’s at the door with your smart doorbell or security camera. My only gripe with these is that too many of them require you to subscribe to save or view historic camera footage.
The Lockly secure deadbolt replaces your existing front door deadbolt and features a revolving code keypad, fingerprint scanner, traditional key, voice activation, or smartphone activation.
In the Living Area
You can open your drapes with a voice command, control the lighting, and see how much electricity your smart wall outlet is using.
In the Kitchen
One of my favorite smart devices at CES this year was the prototype Whirlpool smart oven with augmented reality to assist in your cooking. Many of the new smart home devices leave you wondering “why?”. I thought this way about smart ovens until I saw what the R&D team at Whirlpool was coming up with for the smart oven. Imagine the oven showing you where to place your dish for optimal cooking. And showing you the recipe and step by step instructions on the see-through front glass pane of the oven. Other notable smart kitchen items include the Bosch smart countertop and the LG smart home brewery.
In the Bathroom
Smart bathroom? What? Yes, that’s right. Nothing is immune to the smart home evolution, not even the porcelain throne. Honestly, I’m still a little unsure of the usefulness of the smart toilet. But imagine being able to tell your shower to warm up to 103 degrees, play your shower mix playlist, and run for 12 minutes. When you’re done with the shower, use your smart mirror to check your email and read the morning headlines while you brush your teeth, do your hair, and put on make-up.
Fun and Games
There were dozens of exhibits with drones, speakers, kids tech, and phone accessories. I’ve picked a few highlights.
The AirSelfie is a smartphone controlled mini-drone with a selfie camera in it. There are different modes, and you can even delay the shot so you can put your phone away before snapping the pic. Multiple models fit different needs. The best part – it’s not attached to your phone so if you don’t catch it on the way down you won’t end up with a broken phone!
The Sphero Specdrums slip on your fingers and turn colors into music. The fun is endless and would be great for anyone who loves music.
For those who equate intellectual challenges with fun, the Square Off smart chessboard lets you pair up and play chess with anyone around the globe. It’s a real chess board with real pieces. It even moves the pieces for your opponent after they move it on their end.
Here are some more notable exhibits from CES.
Wait, hasn’t this been around for years now? Yes, but how about 3D printed metal? Both Markforged and Dynamism showcased their 3D metal printers. These printers allow for quick, cheap printing of metal objects. Imagine a deep space mission where the crew can print replacement parts instead of having a cargo hold full of parts. This has huge potential.
Folding phone screen
The rumors around this have been around for a while now. Royale showcased a working version of a folding display, and it didn’t disappoint. I’m looking forward to seeing this come to market.
Gigabyte showcased immersion cooling tech. The liquid conducted no current, so the components were completely immersed, enabling very efficient cooling and eliminating the space needed for traditional fan-based cooling components. While this has particular uses in large servers and data centers, I’m hoping to on day see it in consumer-level tech.
This is not something you’d traditionally put in the tech realm. But both Aetrex and HP showcased advanced foot scanners that read your unique foot shape and gait. It could then recommend shoes based on your foot shape. It also offers the ability to order custom 3D printed orthotics based on the scan results. This has uses in both a commercial show store and in a medical capacity. Imagine going to an podiatrist and getting an affordable custom printed orthotic that day.
This year was about the continued evolution of existing ideas. There are many exciting tech advancements in the works that we’ll see over the next year. Some of these will be immediately available to the average consumer. Some, like 8K TVs, will only be realistic for the very wealthy or the early adapters. But with a little patience, everyone will eventually benefit from the evolution.