Weird tech What’s new?
If you didn’t know already, CES (Consumer Electronics Show) is probably the biggest technology event of the year. It takes place in Las Vegas and it’s where all the world’s biggest tech companies (apart from Apple) compete to launch exciting and cool new products.
That’s what it used to be anyway. These days things are a little different. Flagship devices are rarely launched at CES anymore. It’s now fashionable for big brands like Samsung, Microsoft, Google et al, to launch their biggest products at special one-off events.
This leaves CES in a bit of a weird space. Flagships are no longer launched here. So what are we left with?
The weird and wonderful, that’s what. CES is now a place where far-fetched products grab the headlines. Futuristic devices, like Samsung’s new healthcare robots or LGs rollable TV, are what everyone’s talking about.
Here are the trends, and products, I think CES 2019 will be remembered for.
Samsung leads the way here. Its range of health robots is fascinating. The South Korean company revealed (not launched) three new healthcare bots this week.
First up was Bot Air. This one is simple to get your head around and seems like a genuinely useful innovation. Bot Air is what you get when you cross an air purifier with a Roomba and a pedal bin. It’s designed to autonomously navigate around your house and purify the air on a room-by-room basis.
GEMS was the next bot launched, although this is more of an exoskeleton than a bot. I’m not kidding, Samsung is now a company that’s making exoskeletons. GEMS comes in three versions. GEMS-H (Hip), GEMS-A (ankle) and GEMS-K (knee). H is the most advanced of the three and can reportedly boost your walking speed by 20 per cent, improve your balance by 19 per cent and reduce your energy output by 23 per cent.
Bot Care is Samsung’s third healthcare robot. This is designed to be both a passive and active healthcare monitor. The active healthcare features aren’t particularly new or exciting, it can measure things like heart-rate when you place a finger on its sensor or remind you to take your medicine, once you’ve instructed it to do so.
The innovation here lies in its passive healthcare monitoring. It will judge a human’s sleep quality by measuring breathing patterns. Its most impressive feature is its ability to detect falls – a major cause of death for seniors.
Samsung also launched Bot Retail. Which has nothing to do with healthcare and is actually pretty limited in what it can do – it can take food orders and help you find items in a retail store. But the fact Samsung is working on something to replace the role of humans is worth mentioning.
I’m going to make a prediction. TV will never die. We, the consumers, just love TV too much.
Watching a good film, box set or cringing at The Bachelor is something we naturally want to share with each other. Which is why I’m doubtful VR will ever happen.
The industry agrees with me too. Definitely in the short term. The ratio of newsworthy TVs compared to VR sets launched backs me up (2:0).
LG’s rollable 4K TV was my personal favourite. Yes, rollable. The device on display in Vegas unrolled upwards from an oversized sandbar base and rested in an impressively rigid state.
It’s only a prototype at this stage, with LG saying it aims to sell them by late 2019. But the technology is exciting. There was only the 65-inch version on display at the show, but no pricing information was available. LG says that it has been tested to 50,000 rolls. Which means you could roll it up and down four times a day for the next 34 years.
Not to be outdone, Samsung had its own impressive TV on show. This was something a little different too. A 75-inch modular 4K display. It’s not really one for your living room. It’s designed for businesses or stadiums that need to build HD big screens.
Google Assistant takes aim at Alexa
It was a big show for Google Assistant too. Google knows it’s behind the competition (Amazon) with ease of integration for thirdparty services and it’s hoping to regain some ground with a new set of tools called Google Assistant Connect.
That’s not all. Google also chose CES to announce a series of new Google Assistant updates. Most notably, Interpreter Mode. A feature that lets you chat and translate, in real time, in up to 27 languages.
Google Assistant also boasted several new partnerships. These include Lenovo’s new Smart Alarm Clock, KitchenAid’s Smart Display, Sonos’ latest home speaker, the Philips Hue and new Samsung TVs.
Samsung’s Bot Air purifies your house, room by room.