Every January in Las Vegas, thousands of tech companies come together in the desert to showcase their latest and most innovative products at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). This year, more than 3,800 companies showed off a wide range of products that promise to improve our quality of life, provide cutting-edge entertainment and dramatically change the way we handle everyday tasks.
Virtual reality was a buzzword this year. Self-driving cars remain a hot topic, as well. But the biggest new trend at the 2017 CES was home robotics. At least a dozen robots were unveiled during the four-day show. Soon, you’ll be able to purchase your own robot to help out around the house, provide home security and serve up interactive entertainment. Here are the trends that dominated CES 2017.
You could forgive the CES attendee who thought he or she had wandered into the plot of a sci-fi movie. Many of the newer technologies introduced or showcased were clearly inspired by science fiction and are now reality. This includes in-home robots that listen, speak and move freely around a home. Some can handle a variety of tasks, such as cleaning, entertaining and personal security.
The Cutii is an in-home robot designed specifically for elderly care and companionship. It will help manage appointments; facilitate communications with loved ones and caregivers; and interact with and wirelessly control smart devices in the home (such as televisions, lights and thermostats). Its screen can provide virtual tours of interesting locations around the world.
The Buddy companion robot monitors home security and detects falls, plus plays interactive games and remotely controls smart home technologies. Meanwhile, iRobot offers a selection of home robots designed to vacuum, wash floors or clean windows automatically.
Safety & Health Care
The Smartcane looks like a standard cane, but it contains GPS capability and fall detection technologies that can alert family members or emergency services when and where someone falls, or if they wander off.
Multiple companies are offering small, inexpensive, wearable buttons that can be pressed to call police or emergency services. These work in conjunction with a smartphone. There are also new technology-enhanced pillboxes, like the Smart Pillbox and Pilldrill, that keep track of daily medications and supplements, offer audible reminders to take medications, monitor medication intake and offer the option of allowing remote access to information by family members or medical personnel.
Improve Your Sleep Using Technology
A variety of high-tech gadgets can be placed near your bed, worn on your body or be embedded within a mattress to monitor sleep patterns and help people improve their sleep. For example, the Sleep Number 360 Smart Bed can sense movement, monitor heart rate and automatically adjust firmness.
ResMed’s S+ is a smart device that gets placed next to a bed. It monitors and tracks sleep patterns, and provides detailed and personal plans for improving sleep over time.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Much of the hype at this year’s CES related to the internet of things, or IoT. It’s the term for household devices and appliances (think lighting, television sets, thermostats, washers, dryers, refrigerators, medical equipment, doorbells and all sorts of personal electronics) that can wirelessly connect to the internet.
Often, these devices are controlled remotely using a smartphone, tablet or specialized handheld remote control — or, in some cases, simply by speaking to the device.
LG’s new Door-in-Door refrigerator, for instance, features a dual-view camera — an LCD screen that shows you the contents without your needing to open the door, saving energy. It can also monitor expiration dates and provide alerts when food is about to go bad. And it features Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant.
The internet of things is meant to make our everyday lives easier. But be aware that it requires a tech-savvy user, and perhaps an investment to upgrading existing services (internet speed and capacity), to get the most out of the devices.
In the coming months, expect to see flat-screen, high-definition televisions that are much thinner, but that — thanks to significantly higher resolution (up to 8K) — offer more vivid colors and breathtaking visual detail on the screen. When these TVs are combined with the latest speaker technologies and the ability to stream content from the internet, watching shows and movies at home becomes an immersive, movie theater–like experience. Samsung is among the companies offering cutting-edge television sets, including the QLED TV. And LG’s new W7 OLED TV is so thin (0.15 inch) it could easily be mistaken for wallpaper.
The new breed of cameras is handheld, battery-powered, lightweight, weather-resistant and capable of shooting high-resolution digital photos, as well as high-definition or even 360-degree video, with ease. The digital content can be edited and viewed on a computer or television or even streamed live via the internet. The cameras are easy to use and perfect for snapping vacation photos or shooting video of your grandkids. The Kodak PIXPRO Orbit360 4K camera, for example, shoots high-definition, 360-degree video at up to 4K resolution.