I last attended CES in 2020; shortly after, doors closed worldwide. After a two-year hiatus, I had no idea what to expect and feared the conference would lack the thrill it used to have. I must say CES did not disappoint and Mindgrub’s return to Vegas was a thrill we will not soon miss.
CES is a reminder that technology and innovation require painstaking development. Year after year, we see new things, but the story is the evolution you witness as crazy ideas evolve from conference to conference. Ideas begin to settle, companies emerge as front runners, and ideas coalesce into a solid direction.
Trends I witnessed include growth in technology around assistive devices and accessibility, the evolution of all sizes of electronic vehicles and autonomous vehicles, the maturity of robots, and the development in technology that supports and extends VR.
Accessibility Tech at CES
Accessibility technology has been in the limelight lately, and some of the possibilities have offered an opportunity to extend the independence of all types of people. Two product standouts from this year are AR glasses and a sensor to help those with limited eyesight get around.
My co-worker Shalisa demoed the AR glasses, a device that offers real-time close captioning. With this device, folks who suffer from hearing loss can still engage in conversations and fully participate in everyday discussions.
The Ara from Strap Tech combined much of the same technology in our cell phones and autonomous cars to create a system for blind or visually impaired users to navigate everyday environments. It uses LIDAR to create the same SLAM data to pass on inputs as vibrations to its user.
I was, however, surprised at the lack of hearing aids after policy changes opened the door for over-the-shelf assistive hearing devices. Next year I’m hopeful we will see companies look at this new category.
Electronic and Autonomous Vehicles
The move to electronic vehicles is no surprise, but the sheer amount of companies investing in EVs was much larger than I expected. Tons of upstarts showed off concept vehicles that felt like the future, and some of these concepts definitely piqued my interest.
Lightyear’s solar-powered car with an electronic drive train was a marvel. Waymo showcased its self-driving cars with an expanding fleet that included a custom Freightliner. USPS was also on sight with its questionable-looking and controversial new EV platform.
Littering the vehicle mobility areas of CES were scores of buses, shuttles, and other autonomous transport systems designed to move people around urban environments without a driver.
The same tech used for bigger devices also showed up in various miniature transportation devices. One company showcased a chassis perfect for a vehicle delivering packages or food on a route.
And as we get even smaller, multiple companies introduced new versions of electronic lawnmowers or U-SAFE water drones that can save people from drowning in the ocean.
Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and the Metaverse
Companies continue to search for viable commercial uses, and you could see that on display at CES with the increase in hardware to support the VR ecosystem.
Two great booths for this include bHaptics and haptx which offered new generations of haptic VR devices. I wish I had the chance to try it, but the second reviews of the Haptx Gloves G1 system were very exciting.
Some VR ideas focused on live air and combat training that seemed perfect for some of the work by our clients, such as TAK.
One booth I sadly did not sign up for in time was to check out Magic leap’s glasses. A solid line surrounded the booths, and sign-ups to try out the glasses seemed to disappear fairly quickly every morning.
To cap off our VR venture at CES, the Mindgrub team signed up for the Deadwood Valley experience at Sandbox VR. Having used many VR devices, I did not know what to expect, especially how the group mechanics might work.
CES was filled with so many other wonderful highlights. As a conference, you have to love the whimsical wonder of it all. The crazy ideas sitting on full display for all to witness and try.
The Shiftall Mutalk is a device that may draw comparisons to a different type of voice suppression device. That said, the thing really works! I had a full conversation in front of my co-workers without anyone hearing a peep. I can see the utility for those who need to have a private conversation in a public space.
I’m not sure how to describe the joy of pruning a tattoo right on your body, but I really love Prinker’s body printers. I put in an order for one of these and look forward to the chance to print things on my kid’s faces when they fall asleep.
But the thing that gave me the best laugh was the u-scan from Withings. I love Withing’s products and will buy this for my own personal bathroom – but who knew the next step in smart home health would be a urine analyzer? My favorite feature of this device is its ability to recognize family members by their unique urine stream. Looking forward to making that one of the MFA options for Mindgrub’s SSO.
Did anyone know digital wind instruments exist as a product? I wish I had a chance to try the product in person, as the idea of one device that can mimic many wind instruments, like a keyboard, is amazing.
One surprisingly sparse area was the 3D printing section. Outside of FormLabs, I did not notice another 3D printing company, but it did not matter as they came with a few cool goodies. First was the introduction of Form Auto, a printer capable of print g 24-7 without downtime. From personal experience, this is a big leap and opens the door to more Kinkos-style printing facilities. FormLabs also feature the Hasbro Pulse Selfie Series toys, which scan your face and allow you to 3D print a custom toy. I’m looking forward to holding my personalized Black Panther toy in my hands.