[GADGETS] Best of CES 2018
The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is where tech giants and startups converge to hype what they’re planning to release within the next year (or so). While few of these products or services are actually available right now, they do serve to illustrate where the tech world is going, and in some cases, where it has gone astray. Let's take a look at the highlights of CES 2018...
Highlights of the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show
Aflac gets extra credit for a device that's not only clever and useful, but endearing and magnanimous as well. The My Special Aflac Duck is a fluffy, cuddly robot toy designed for kids with cancer. A variety of sensors enable the duck to act as comforting companion, and it even has a PICC line attachment, so the duck can do chemotherapy along with the child. Aflac has a goal of providing one to every child cancer patient in the U.S.
The Lenovo Smart Display proves that Google has learned something from its ill-fated forays into hardware. This time, the search giant left it to an expert, and Lenovo has delivered. Powered by Google Assistant, the Smart Display’s 8- or 10-inch screen puts the puny Alexa-driven Amazon Spot and Show devices to shame; it even comes with a formidable 10-watt speaker on its left side. Propped up by a kickstand, the Smart Display’s full-HD screen is easy to read in various lighting. The Smart Display is handy for displaying recipes, making video calls, and responding to Google voice searches. When released this summer, the 8-inch model will cost $200 while the 10-incher will be $250.
A carry-on suitcase that propels itself and follows me around airports automatically, never being left behind? Oh, yes, please! The CX-1 suitcase from ForwardX has cameras and smarts that help it avoid obstacles and stay close to its owner. It can do 7 mph, which is almost fast enough for you to catch your connecting flight. The CX-1 can even handle speed bumps, dirt roads, or uphill climbs. It will be available "later this year" but the price tag is still a secret. Seems cool, but I wish it had some sort of tether so I could be sure it stayed with me in a busy airport.
Lishtot (are we really running out of pronounceable English product names?) is a keyfob-sized device that magically detects even minute amounts of contaminants or bacteria in drinking water. Its inventor says the Lishtot measures variations in the electromagnetic field surrounding water; different patterns indicate the presence of lead, chlorine, E. coli bacteria, organic chemicals, and so on. Whether they’re in the water, on the container, or on your hands is anyone’s guess, I guess. This $49.95 device is available now.
DynaFocals are (or will be, hopefully) reading glasses that automatically change focal length depending on what the wearer is looking at. PH Technical Labs doesn’t explain how DynaFocals work, what they will cost, or when in the “middle of 2018” they will be launched. But at least PHTL is not asking for your contact and credit card data yet.
Imagine walking into Starbucks, re-charging your coffee tank, and walking out with a fully re-charged phone. Startup Wi-Charge promises to deliver electricity wirelessly through medium-large spaces using infrared light to carry energy to a portable charger equipped with photovoltaic cells, which will then convert light to electricity. The company says that infrared light is safe because it’s “natural,” unlike the “dangerous, man-made” radio-frequency radiation that’s been part of the electromagnetic spectrum since the Big Bang. (Yeah, right.)
Dojo by Bullguard will protect your home network and the Internet of Things (IoT) devices connected to it, according to its developers. This portable “pebble” seems to contain the Bullguard security software, a WiFi adapter, and an LED light, and it comes with an app. “The pebble is free to move about your home and glows when there is activity that needs to be addressed in the app, and is designed so it doesn't need to be yet another thing you line up next to your TV.” Instead, you can roam around with phone in one hand and pebble in the other until your dog mistakes the latter for a tennis ball and hides it under the couch. To be clear, this totally unnecessary hardware seems intended to be a way to get $199 for software that few would buy after a free trial.
A $200 smart mouthguard is “the first real-time head impact monitoring technology,” according to Prevent Biometrics (which is a poor brand name but sounds like a good idea). Years in the making the Prevent mouthguard is now being marketed to schools and pro sports teams who are increasingly leary of legal liabilities arising from competitive concussions, aneurisysms, and the like.
Have we taken the "smart" thing too far? A Japanese firm named Xenoma demonstrated smart pajamas designed to be worn by dementia patients in a hospital. Circuits built into the clothing can detect breathing, heart rate, and when a patient is walking. (Someone should tell Xenoma PR that a xenoma is a "tumor-like growth caused by microsporidia.")
One journalist who visited CES came away with the feeling that CES was mostly "useless robots and machines that don’t work." She begins her summary of the show with commentary on a robot that can't fold clothes very well, and ends with this: "A giant banner in the main hallway read 'A better life. A better world.' But all I could think of is how much I wanted to be back home in the real world where, even if it’s primitive, most technology just works."
Your thoughts on these topics are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 16 Jan 2018
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- [GADGETS] Best of CES 2018 (Posted: 16 Jan 2018)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved