New Products & Technologies
-By Don Logay
The annual CES show is one of the largest trade shows in the world. This year over 180,000 attendees came to Las Vegas to view tomorrow’s new products, emerging technologies and amazing visionary thinking presented by more than 4,500 exhibitors.
Size-wise, the 2019 CES (formerly Consumer Electronic show) covered 2.9 million square feet of floor space. That’s more that 52 football fields or 69-acres of jaw-dropping, cutting-edge devices, gadgets and vehicles that will be ushering us into a space-age future world worthy of the Jetsons.
Home entertainment is always a main feature at CES, and this year was no exception.
Entering the exhibit hall, a darkened room with 260 TVs mounted side-by-side as one massive undulating surface, extended wall-to-wall and curved overhead, immersing one in a brilliant burst of colors and mesmerizing images that foretold of things to come.
One soon discovered that HD TV’s are now “ultra” UHD and 4K has been upped to 8K (8,000 pixels) to provide better resolution for budget-busting huge 88-, 95- and 219-inch wall-size LEDs that are just around the corner (so much for bringing one home in your SUV). Another cool innovation is a flexible big LED TV that rolls-up (like a window shade) at the push of a button when not in use.
Communication is always another highlight and this year’s CES saw the introduction of 5G technology that will gradually replace today’s 4G network. A simple ho-hum upgrade? Not so. The new 5G is more than 1,000 times faster – and, for example, will allow you to download a full-length HD movie in about 10 seconds. It is slated to be phased in over the next few years and will impact virtually all things wireless.
Beyond this, one also finds that everything is suddenly “smart” – from appliances and doorbells to hi-tech shoes, shirts and toilet seats that monitor your health – including “smart” homes and entire cities. If not smart by definition, almost all other new hi-tech innovations featured an “e” or an “i” prefix to denote new and/or improved capabilities.
Another big advancement is AI (Artificial Intelligence) that will soon be impacting almost every phase of our future days. AI is the ‘secret sauce” being included to enhance many other technologies, from “self-driving” cars, busses and taxis (even Harley-Davison motorcycles, John Deere tractors and airplanes) to precise facial recognition and
better-than-ever video surveillance – everywhere (so be on your good behavior).
Other cool transportation innovations are just around the corner and include handy concepts like unmanned “Robomart” mobile grocery stores that bring the most popular basics (like bread, eggs, milk and fresh produce) to your front door… and not what you’ve ordered, but just so you can slide open the doors and shop right in your driveway.
Another cool find was the awesome “Nexus” Air Taxi by Bell (of helicopter fame). A sleek hybrid electric-powered VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) chopper-type craft, with four large upward facing fans, that lift and then tilt 90-degrees forward. Designed to be stationed at hubs around major cities, the Nexus Air Taxi will whisk four passengers to nearby airports in minutes, high above traffic at 150 mph. Early versions are piloted, but technology is being developed that will lead to being totally pilot-less in the future. It is a “for real” introduction that is slated to initially be put into service at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport in the next few years.
Artificial Intelligence technology is also reshaping everything from warehouse stocking, sorting and shipping to advanced robotics (both fixed and mobile) for everything from flipping burgers and pouring drinks to delivering room service. Soon, the bartender that remembers your favorite drink or friendly Walmart Greeter that say’s “Hi’ with a smile just may be an AI enabled “never sick/never tired” 24/7 robot.
Today, hi-tech remote-controlled drones are not only buzzing overhead. In addition to delivering packages and pizzas, they’re now making a big splash on and underwater too. Why? To help find fish, look for sunken treasure and aid in search and rescue operations.
After three days of exploring miles of aisles – and exhibits filled with “tomorrow today” – one comes away both exhilarated and excited, with thoughts of all the exciting great things that are about to enhance our day-to-day lives… and just a wee bit of hesitation and nagging thoughts that beg the question, “Do I really need a hi-tech refrigerator that streams TV, displays Mom’s recipes and orders milk when I run out?” Maybe.
On the other hand, these nifty innovations may be just what we need. We shall see.
Don Logay is an award-winning journalist and former Editor-in-Chief of three national magazines. In addition to articles for numerous publications, he also writes tips for homeowners heard daily on hundreds of radio stations nationwide. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org