This is the first CES that I (or anyone from Reckoner) has ever attended. The show, as I’m sure you know, is ridiculously large and instead of even beginning to remotely try and cover it all I’ve decided to write a series of shorter pieces based around what it’s like attending the show for the first time. I’m calling the series ”Stories from a CES Virgin” and you can find all of them here.
We begin with CES Unveiled
Naturally two days before CES actually starts events begin to kick off under its umbrella. CES Unveiled is the first major one of these, actually run by the CES show and is an exclusive look for the media in attendance at a handful of products that are being shown off at the main show.
It’s also an opportunity for media folk to catch up, eat a bunch of finger food from a continually refilling buffet and enjoy a fully stocked open bar. That last one is the reason, I’m sure, many of them decide to attend.
The event hosted some two hundred vendors showing of their wares from a range of tech environments from LG’s home appliance to Mayfield Robotics personal robot Kuri.
Below are a few of the highlights (and lowlights) from the event that I think will be of most interest to the Reckoner family.
Samsung: SmartCam IP cameras
SmartCam is Samsung’s division of home security or IP based cameras. They’ve launched a series of new cameras lately but here at CES the most interesting is the Wisenet-SmartCam A1 Home Security System (SNA-R1110W).
The kit includes both an indoor and outdoor camera. The indoor also serves as the system’s hub whilst incorporating a 250 degree auto-tracking camera on top of the base. The outdoor camera, which bears a strikingly similar appearance as Netgear’s Arlo, can also operate indoors of course but is battery operated and rated for outdoor installation. You can add another seven of these to bring the total camera support for one base to eight.
Remarkably the SmartCam system does NOT support integration with Samsung’s own home automation system SmartThings. Seems almost ludicrous that wouldn’t be a consideration.
Sticking with home automation Lutron, creators of the highly lauded Caséta Wireless products for home automation, also had a booth.
Unfortunately the only information relevant they had to share with me was that they have no plans for certification of the products outside of North America. Once again Australia left in the lurch when it comes to home automation products.
Picobrew: Pico – Personal Craft Beer Brewery
I must confess I’d never heard of Pico before which seems almost un-Australian being a beer related product. Think of it as kind of Nespresso for beer. It doesn’t quite create you a beer instantly like the coffee machine but it does brew some of the world’s favourites from a kit supplied by the company with very little work required from the budding home-brewer.
Today at the show they were unveiling a new (and highly requested feature) to allow you to customise your beer. You begin with some standard templates, IPA, Stout, etc and then the system allows you to customise the elements to construct your own personalised brew.
Once you’ve created your own recipe Picobrew then ship you the exact ingredients in one of their standard kit boxes which includes an RFID tag that speaks to your machine and tells it how to handle the brew process.
Luke Roberts Smart Lamp
This smart pendant light is special in that it allows you to control the light it emits in every direction. Perhaps you only want one side of the 360 degree pendant to be on or maybe you want each quarter of the room a different colour or shade. It’s completely customisable but at a hefty price, 459 Euros.
The lamp is currently only one size meaning it may not fit your particular requirements. It uses Bluetooth to communicate with the app as well as some home automation hub with Apple’s HomeKit rumoured to be integrated in the coming year.
Mayfield Robotics: Kuri
“To be a real, live robot”, that’s what the rep said to me when I asked exactly what was Kuri for. Kuri is a companion for your home. It’s function is to be a part of your family and at this moment seems skewed more towards being a toy than anything else.
That said the tech is very impressive and there’s no argument from me as to whether or not the little robot is cute. They’ve done an incredible job putting emotion into it.
Kuri isn’t releasing until late in 2017 and is limited by a two hour battery life but is smart enough to return to its charging station when in need of a top up.
No smart home integration renders the robot relatively useless in acting as a voice hub like an Amazon Echo or Google Home but it does have IFTTT integration.
Sevenhugs: Smart Remote
The search for the ultimate universal remote continues with a new player from Sevenhugs. The ”Smart Remote” works by changing its LCD UI based on what you point it at. Point it towards a Philips Hue bulb, options for brightness and colour appear, point it towards your Sonos speaker, music & volume controls take over. It’s really impressive to see in action.
It knows what it’s pointing at based on a map of the products in your home that you’ve identified via their iPhone/Android app. The remote keeps a track of the devices positions courtesy of three spacial mapping sensors you place around the room. They’re relatively small and stick onto the wall without looking conspicuous like the Vive’s lighthouse boxes for example.
When there’s a mass of devices together, say for instance a media cabinet which houses your TV, an amp/receiver and a cable box, the remote will offer icons at the top of it that you can swipe between to select the right device you want to control.
The remote also offers “scenes” that allow you to program a series of events on multiple devices to perform. A scene to “Watch a Movie” for example which might dim lights, increase volume and close your blinds.
A starter kit, which includes the remote and a set of three sensors, is currently available for pre-order for US$299. The remote boasts a compatibility with some 25,000 devices including Apple TV, PlayStation consoles and your regular TVs, cable boxes and receivers.
The Unicorn is the new bike from Kickstarter aficionados Speed X whom launched their first bike (the Leopard) on there last year. The Unicorn is the next step introducing a new bike computer with touch controls, included power meter and a vibration control system that allows the seat post to bend absorbing vibration in your ride.
Netgear Nighthawk X10 R9000
The size of a small child this router looks like it could provide coverage to half the world and then some. It’s one fo the first with 802.11ad as well as being able to run as a Plex Media Server via USB connected storage. Only issue, it’s expensive as fuck.
I couldn’t leave without mentioning a couple of the stranger things I saw at the event too. Of course there was some hair regrowth tech via a very fashionable series of lights attached to the inside of a headband. Snake oil it appears is still alive and well.
Another interesting one was a ”cloud connected hearing aid” something that at first glance I had no idea why or what function that could possibly serve other than launching a DDoS attack from someone’s ear canal but then perhaps it allows for firmware updates? I still found it strange.
Lastly, VR haptic feedback shoes. These things looked ridiculous and have no real point. I didn’t stop long enough to even ask for a single application. Can you think of one?