#CES2014 kicked off last night with the “CES Unveiled” event. I attended, and as it’s not my first trip to CES, it seemed like there was a good mix of evolution and revolution in the products on display. Some of the major themes on display were as follows:
Even though I called #BS on the Amazon Prime Air publicity stunt a few weeks ago, drones are still going to be a big leap forward in 2014. The drones on display at the event were very impressive, and I could see how they could be utilized in a number of scenarios for home and business use, including:
- Imaging and agricultural yield management in a large field
- Live traffic reporting from trouble spots around a city
- Crowd management at an outdoor event
- Real time overhead video at a football game
- Surveillance by law enforcement
- Overhead security camera for a large parking lot
- Delivery of packages by Amazon
While I’m still not crazy about having millions of drones overhead, I think there are some practical uses of this technology. Let’s just make sure that we get the NSA under control before we start using these things in earnest, OK?
If you are still not convinced about how far robotics and design have come in this area, I encourage you to watch Adam Savage’s video where he demos his robotic spider. The capabilities which have been achieved in this space are amazing.
First Data was exhibiting the Clover point of sale system, which is a tricked out Android tablet that’s used along with a cloud-based point of sale system to process transactions and manage retail stores. (Clover was purchased by First Data in 4Q 2013) While I spent a very short period of time at their table (which was very crowded), it looked very impressive, and I plan to visit them during the show. The overview video from their press kit appears below.
It is clear that wearables will be a big topic of discussion at this years International CES, but I didn’t get a good barometer on how ready the products are for the real world. Everyone had their obligatory “Dick Tracy” bluetooth smartwatch which served as a second, smaller screen that pairs with your phone, but none of these have impressed me as “life changers” thus far. More on this later in the show. There were a number of exhibitors at the event who were presenting their take on the next evolution in the FitBit exercise tracking devices. Notably absent was Google Glass as well as other devices which use “heads up displays” to access information without using traditional screens.
The most interesting wearable I saw was a pair of swim goggles with embedded heart monitoring. This item was displayed in a showcase of award winners by CEA (pictured above), but was not available for testing at the event.
The Upp fuel cell, which will be distributed in the US by Brookstone (MSRP $199, available in Q1 2014) looked very interesting, and there were signs that this technology will be on display elsewhere at this year’s show. I’m glad to see this technology finally reaching the market, and hope to be able to evaluate this product for a future post.
A second fuel cell vendor named Brunton was on display in a glass case as a CEA award winner, but I was not able to speak with a company representative about this product’s capabilities and US distribution outlets. I hope to see them during the show later this week.
The Lowes Home Improvement Iris platform (via the Killer Bee) was announced, and is an interesting platform for managing connected devices in the home which I would love to review in my own home at some point (hint, hint, Lowe’s PR people). (existing components and offerings are available online here).
The Arrayent Connect platform is a cloud-based framework for integrating connected home devices
from multiple ecosystems together. This toolset appears to make it possible to connect enterprise applications, mobile applications, and analytical tools to devices which four major communication protocols (Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, AC900/868, and ZigBee). The company’s offerings are targeted at manufacturers, systems integrators, and others who want to connect devices together from multiple manufacturers across multiple platforms without needing to write code.
Since Arrayent is selling their technology to go under the hood of products from Maytag, Whirlpool, I don’t expect you to hear much news about them in the coming months. The company’s efforts are still important to solving the problem of communications and “data plumbing” between the wide range of connected devices we use every day.
In summary, I recommend that you stay tuned. I’ll continue to separate the wheat from the chaff at this year’s harvest of new technologies and devices over the next few days, and will present many of these items in a webinar, “From CES to You: New Productivity Tools for 2014” on February 6 from 1P-3P ET.