CES 2017: What to expect at this year's Las Vegas expo
They do things bigger in Vegas, but even by the Entertainment Capital of the World’s standards CES is some kind of tech behemoth.
Now celebrating its 50th year, the majority of the world’s digital giants have descended upon Nevada to glimpse the future, unveil products and seal deals.
For at least one long weekend every year, what happens in Vegas is seen all over the world.
CES is billed as the place where ‘innovation does business’ and has been used in the past to launch the likes of Sony’s first video recorders (1970), DVDs (1996), the Microsoft Xbox (2001) and HDTV (1998).
A member of the press gets friendly with AI at CES 2017
Attendees this week have already been treated to a taste of Faraday Future's self-driving electric car, the FF91, which designers claim is faster than Tesla’s Model S.
But this year’s CES buzz is expected to be artificial intelligence, and visitors should see it in everything from wearables and sensors, to cars and fridges.
Thanks in some part to crowdfunding, there are also more start-up businesses than in any other year – all of whom will be hoping to convince retailers to invest in their concept.
Attendees clamour for a look at Farady Future's launch
Tech from China will also make a bigger splash than ever before, with more than 1,300 registered exhibitors.
Of course, not everything on offer at CES will change the world. Some developers will introduce attendees to problems they never knew they had, like 2014’s cutting board with integrated iPad holder. Other products will be downright bizarre, such as the 700lb, $30,000 iPod dock the iNuke Boom of 2012.
This is what you can expect to see on display in Nevada this weekend.
THE YEAR OF ALEXA AND THE SMART HOME
Amazon’s Alexa is the name on everybody’s lips this year after stealing a march on the Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana.
All the big names want their voice-controlled devices to power third-party products, and hundreds of designers and innovators will be more than willing to join in.
Amazon's Alexa was some way ahead of the pack in 2016
Wireless headphones that link up to Alexa will be showcased by specialist OnVocal and GE will be introducing a table lamp that doubles as a speaker powered by Amazon’s voice service.
Proving how far ahead of the pack Alexa is, LG followed Samsung’s lead of 2016 with their smart fridge. Introduced on Wednesday, the Smart InstaView integrates with various Amazon services including Amazon Fresh, Alexa and Music – all via a huge 29-inch touchscreen on the front.
It allows owners to order groceries right from its screen. And anyone who has forgotten to take out a shopping list can use the fridge’s in-built camera to look inside and remotely see what’s missing.
The Smart InstaView is expected to be made available to the public some time later this year.
LG unveil their smart fridge which can order groceries for you
The Alexa craze should extend to light bulbs, loudspeakers, smart locks, cameras, sprinklers, smart thermostats, cameras, power outlets and switches. It would seem there is almost nothing in the home that cannot be wirelessly hooked-up.
Samsung has also committed to connecting all of its products by 2020.
As technology permeates everything in the modern home, it makes sense that the next step would be to start introducing it to our pets.
The KYON Pet Tracker is a smart collar designed you to help communicate with your animal – and find their location with GPS technology if they go missing. An LED display on the outside of the device will also show the message “I’m lost” should the worst happen.
Users can set up a perimeter around the home and receive notifications should their dog or cat wander outside it.
A canine model shows off its smart KYON collar
The tracker also shows the pet’s altitude, meaning an owner can work out which floor of an apartment building it may be on.
Boasting a huge 30-hour battery life, in-built sensors detect if the unlucky animal has fallen into water, and can monitor changes in temperature to track health and comfort.
Anyone with a yappy dog will also be pleased to know the KYON can recognise barks, so owners always know if a home-alone pooch is causing a racket for the neighbours.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND EMOTIONAL ROBOTS
AI is expected to be more widespread in 2017, and LG has already won the hearts of the CES crowd with its ‘adorable’ home robot.
The Korean firm unveiled two Hub Robots – one smaller than the other and both featuring cute digital ‘eyes’ similar to those of EVE from the Pixar film WALL-E.
The two blue eyes of LG's Hub Robots could soon be helping you out at home
Like the Amazon Echo, or Google Home, they can control smart devices, play music, offer advice, and cook your dinner.
The larger of the two, Airbot, is designed to glide around airports cleaning floors and offering lost travellers advice and directions. It will be introduced at South Korea’s Incheon Airport later this year.
Unsurprisingly, both use Amazon’s Alexa technology.
London-based Emotech is also introducing Olly, a doughnut-shaped table-top robot that can use deep-learning techniques to recognise different members of a household – and adjust according to their preferences.
Olly, by Emotech
The lifestyle assistant has already secured £8.2m of funding from China after being designed by brainboxes at University College London, Edinburgh University and Imperial College.
It is said to deliver accurate speech and react emotionally to its user. Rather than responding to direct questions, the device should recognise natural language.
Creepily, Emotech believe that after interacting with enough different humans, Olly will be able to develop its own personality.
Perhaps CES 2017’s finest solution to a very, very first world problem is the smart wine dispenser D-vine.
Designed by French firm 10-vins, it pours the perfect glass of plonk at the ideal temperature to match whatever dinner you may be treating yourself to.
Although it is probably not compatible with Blossom Hill Chardonnay and a Chicago Town microwavable pizza.
Similarly, L'Oreal has unveiled a smart hairbrush packed with sensors to help consumers improve their technique. Loaded with a microphone and gyroscope, it listens out for breaking hair and vibrates when a user is brushing too hard.
HEALTH AND WEARABLES
Wearables have not had a vintage 2016, as Apple, Google and Samsung all stuttered. But that does not mean CES will follow suit – wearables will be everywhere.
One area in which designers hope to make strides in is healthcare; a sector many predict will be worth billions in as little as a decade. Pregnancy, for example, has been targeted by the Ava and Trakfertility devices.
The Ava fertility wristband
The former is a wristband which alerts women to when they are most fertile, while the other is a DIY sperm test linked up to an associated app should improvement be needed.
Bringing healthcare into the house is TytoHome, which can take readings from the heart, lungs, throat, abdomen and then send them to clinicians for analysis.
Perhaps a little less essential are Spinali Designs’ vibrating jeans, which offer directions to their wearer without having to look at a screen.
CES 2017 runs until January 8