I’m not a huge fan of CES. I truly envy my peers that don’t have to go. This is because the show has grown too large, too unfocused, and far too sexist. There are things that go on at CES that could end marriages and destroy brands, particularly during the current environment. However, there are also typically some cool things at the show and here are some of the things I’ll be looking to see.
Human Carrying Drones
I saw this concept first at CES and the idea of a robotic drone that would arrive like an Uber car and take me where I want to go has taken decades to go from imagination to reality. Wide trials are expected next year in places like Dubai (which also has flying police bikes) and Colorado. The initial designs were surprisingly advanced, but well short of field trials. Now that we are just weeks away from these trials, I’m expecting far more viable designs and a far better showcase of what we will get.
Cars Designed to Be Autonomous
These have been drifting into car shows for months, but now we get to see what the technology vendors are thinking about. Given surveys have showcased that folks are actually more comfortable in these things if they don’t have steering wheels I’m expecting designs far closer to rolling studies or living rooms and less like the cars we have today. There should also be some pretty amazing showcases of related technology and a blending of rolling and flying vehicles like the prototype that Airbus has been showcasing.
Next-Generation Digital Assistants
Amazon opened this segment up with the Echo but now others are beginning to roll out offerings. I’ve seen products with screens, products that can make expressions reflecting their mood, and high-end products with far better speakers. I expect that by the end of 2018 we’ll be up to our butts in these things—an increasingly large number of which can talk to each other and coordinate their activities. I still believe the end game will be a digital assistant that is hardware independent, but it’ll likely take us 5 or so years to get there. So, until then, we’ll likely be looking at dysfunctional families for products that increasingly talk to each other to get things done.
Lots and lots of robots. I think this year will the coming out party for consumer-focused robots. The last couple of years we had one or two robots, but this year I’m expecting enough of them to form my own robotic glee club. Component costs have been coming down and Sony even bought out a new Aibo robotic dog this year, so I’ll include robotic pets in this mass of walking, rolling, talking, and increasingly helpful mobile appliances. There is one teaser video that has caught my interest. See if you recognize the tune they play in the background.
I’ve already seen most of these but there are a few that remain secret. These are spinning the idea of a laptop and 2-in-1 tablet on their head as we are talking 20 or so hours of use and days of standby time in this new class of device that is both light and reasonably priced. Since the product uses a Snapdragon ARM processor, if successful, it would be massively disruptive (and Apple has been hinting at a similar product for years). Now if they can just get all the elements right we should see a massive disruption in the space and, I’m told, they have it sorted this time. But, I’m a tad jaded, because I’ve been told this before and wasn’t pleasantly surprised. I’m particularly looking to see the one from Lenovo which was left out of their earlier briefings.
Tons of automated things. From robots running around our homes and talking to us to friggen flying vehicles that can get us over traffic, this CES promises to have to cool stuff that will be worth seeking out. Given how hard it is to get around that place the idea of something that could fly over traffic is particularly compelling.
In the end CES 2018 promises to be unusually exciting and not just because of the drama in getting to meetings. I think this one is likely one for the record books.