[GADGETS] Best of CES 2018

Category: Gadgets

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.

Aflac Cancer Duck

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."

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Most recent comments on "[GADGETS] Best of CES 2018"

Posted by:

16 Jan 2018

Correction: Infrared radiation occurs a frequencies HIGHER than microwaves, or radio frequency, For example:
Microwave oven frequency: 2.45 GHz
Infrared frequency: 300 GHz - 430 THz

Energy content:
Microwave oven: 0.00001 ev
Infrared: 1.7 ev to 1.24 meV

EDITOR'S NOTE: So noted, thanks!

Posted by:

Gabor Menkes
16 Jan 2018

Bob wrote: Lishtot (are we really running out of pronounceable English product names?)
Since it is a device to test if water is safe to drink, I assume the name has something to do with the infinitive of the verb "to drink" (which in Hebrew is ... you might have guessed by now: lishtot).

Posted by:

16 Jan 2018

Thanks for the humor as a summary of the show. Glad I missed it.

Posted by:

16 Jan 2018

"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."

From my point of view you both skipped Physics lessons in school - both things are natural, but the problem with safe level of them. The level of man-made radio pollution is definitely unnatural for human habitat, but the naturally common level of infrared radiation can sometimes naturally kill in the same habitat (remember how many people died last summer from extreme heat in pretty comfortable cities).

A couple of recent years of CES I feel there is no breakthrough - just improvements of relatively common and relatively old ideas. It seems like a pause just before something big. Wondering what and in what area that could be...

Posted by:

Stephen Stein
16 Jan 2018

I don't speak Hebrew but as soon as I read the name I figured it was an Israeli company and indeed as Gabor notes"Lishtot" means "to drink" in Hebrew. The company in based in Jerusalem. I was very interested in the Aflac duck as one of my grandsons was diagnosed with a stage 4 paediatric cancer 3 years ago at the age of 3 months. That duck would have been nice to have at that time. BTW, he's doing fine now.

Posted by:

Bud Izen
16 Jan 2018

In the mid to late 80s, I used to cover the CES for a couple of British publications (now long gone of course). Back then, it was mostly about computers and related software and hardware. My specialty was looking for new or recent startups. As I recall, most of the stuff I discovered actually worked. It's too bad that we have gone (I will NOT say progressed) from that to this - mostly robots and household automation that few people can use, let alone need, and drones (flying robots). I did completely appreciate learning about the Aflac Duck and the good motives at that great company. It gets tougher and tougher to separate the wheat from the dross......

Posted by:

16 Jan 2018

When you can purchase robotic guard dogs as featured in Black Mirror's episode 'Metalhead' let me know.

Posted by:

17 Jan 2018

The Lishtot might be just thing for those who partake of the "Raw Water" that has been in the news recently!

Posted by:

17 Jan 2018

I LOVE the Aflac Duck! What a great way to help kids when they are going through chemo therapy. He is also, rather cute. }:O)

The one new product that is really interesting to me and probably millions of others. . .the DynaFocal glasses! You only have to really need to use glasses, especially when you are older and wear progressive lens, to want this pair!!!

I have to wear regular, cheap reading glasses to use my computer or even for reading a book. The computer is the one that is the hardest to see your computer screen with progressive lens glasses. With progressive lens you have to put your head at an odd angle just to see and just move your head a tiny bit. . .view is gone!

When I am driving, I don't have as much of an issue, but even then, I must be careful about how I move my head. For those who wear progressive lens, they know what I mean. And heaven help the poor person who gets a new pair of progressive lens and they are NOT set or fixated right! The distance is too far up the glasses and the reading is almost none existent. Been there. . .done that!

The DynaFocals could really be an answer to pray for those older eyes. In medicine the condition is called presbyopia, meaning farsighted and nearsighted at the same time. Yes, the condition is an oxymoron. }:O)

Posted by:

17 Jan 2018

I am holding out until the Kohler Numi "smart toilet" comes down a bit from the CES2018 announced price of around $6k.

Posted by:

17 Jan 2018

I love the quote: "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." I personally don't need a gadget for everything. I love technology, but I also want the freedom to be involved with what I am doing--not a passive guinea pig.

Posted by:

Yehuda Zimmerman
17 Jan 2018

Lishtot is Hebrew for 'to drink'. No attempt at a weird name there. Just a different language!

Posted by:

19 Jan 2018

I like the reading glasses. Now if they can do long distance as well, I'm in. I have never gotten used to needing progressive lenses etc. Nothing has really worked and contact lenses, even if it was a solution, are just yucky

Posted by:

13 Feb 2018

Bob, I'm not sure the CX-1 suitcase from ForwardX will get anywhere considering how TSA won't even allow the luggage that has lithium-ion batteries built into them, all to allow owners to track them anywhere -- on any flight now.

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