1st February 2017
The ten hottest tech announcements from CES 2017
Las Vegas may well be synonymous with casinos and stupidly grandiose hotels first and foremost, but it also plays host to the Consumer Electronics Show every January. At a fantastically busy time for our businesses, nobody from Trak Global Group was able to attend CES 2017 in the flesh, but you can be sure that many of us salivated over our keyboards and mobile devices as we learned of the latest tech in automotive, smart homes, mobility, IoT and the rest.
Having set ourselves the challenge of summing up what we feel are the ten most imminently beneficial advances (in no particular order), we’d better get cracking…
- Amazing assistants
Between now and the widespread adoption of fully autonomous vehicles on the roads, cars are set to become increasingly connected with smart homes, as demonstrated by BMW and Nissan1 integrating Microsoft’s Azure, Cortana and Office 365 systems into some of their vehicles. Ford also revealed that certain SYNC 3-equipped blue oval models will directly integrate Amazon’s Alexa assistant, which Hyundai and VW connect with via their own apps. These assistants will learn and adapt to different drivers and enable everything from schedules, to-do lists, reminders, emails and restaurant bookings, to domestic fridges, lights and heating systems to be controlled by voice. We’re headed towards car ecosystems3.
- No more parking space angst
Finding an available parking space is often challenging enough to get one’s blood boiling, made worse if you’re in an unfamiliar area or running late for the dentist or for a business meeting. CES 2017 saw Bosch show off its community-based smart parking assistant4, which uses ultrasonic sensors to detect and measure potential spaces. This bit isn’t particular ground-breaking, but parking space data is then transmitted in real-time to a digital map shared out to anyone using Bosch’s system, making it much easier to nab a space. It’s even clever enough to ignore infeasible spaces like driveways, areas with double yellow or red lines, and even bays next to recycling bins.
- Maybe the future’s not electric?
Whilst it’s true that battery power seems to be the way most car manufacturers are going in a bid to move away from more polluting fuels like petrol and especially diesel, a few firms like Toyota and Hyundai have renewed dabbling in hydrogen fuel cell (FCEV) technology recently. The Korean firm used CES 2017 to announce that it’ll release an all-new hydrogen crossover car in early 2018, having learnt valuable lessons from the ix35 Fuel Cell and its latest model, Ioniq. With zero emissions and significantly longer real-life mileage ranges than battery-powered cars, FCEV may turn out to be the preferred option.
- Discrete dash cams
It’s got to be said that conventional dashboard or windscreen-mounted cameras look a bit daft and make their drivers appear a touch paranoid, so the news from PSA (Peugeot Citroen, basically) is welcome6. The new Citroen C3 already incorporates the ConnectedCAM system as standard, but future cars from these historic French brands will feature Garmin Intelligent Driving Video Recorder (IDVR) tech, essentially meaning that a HD dash cam will be integrated into the rear view mirror housing. Drivers will be kept safer thanks to footage being filmed and recorded onto a hard drive, which can then be shared elsewhere via an app, and the system will also encompass a range of ADAS tech such as lane departure warning and collision detection.
- The ‘bots’ are coming
From the Mayfield Robotics robot called Kuri that can react to voice commands, trundle around the home on its wheels and act as a mobile security system complete with facial recognition, through to LG’s Airport Guide and Lawn Mowing robots7, it’s clear that we humans will increasingly be able to put our feet up while our electronic friends potter around busily in various activities from tidying up to dancing.
- Connected cooking
CES 2017 showed that new devices lacking smart home connectivity will soon be in the minority, particularly when it comes to white goods. Being able to alter the thermostat or control the fridge or garage door with your dulcet tones is no longer new, but one concept we particularly like is Bosch’s connected kitchen scale8, which they’ve named ‘Drop’. In a nutshell, Drop is compatible with certain recipes displayed on a tablet and helps measure food precisely, which is handy for anyone whose knees are knocking ahead of an appearance on Dinner Date. Drop knows which stage of the recipe a person is at and can therefore preheat an oven from Bosch’s Home Connect range at just the right time, and will eventually work in unison with smart Bosch food processors and loads of other kitchen appliances. It’s just a shame that washing up isn’t on the horizon.
- Brainy windows
Anyone enjoying snoozing in their favourite conservatory chair will know what an absolute chore it is to get up and open a window if it becomes too hot and stuffy inside. Granted, the sun doesn’t become overbearing on a regular basis here in the UK, but Netatmo and Velux have come up with the answer. Active windows9 use various sensors to enable them to open and close automatically depending on air quality and weather conditions. Due to hit the market in Q3 2017, Velux Active Windows can also be controlled using Apple and Android smartphone apps, providing greater flexibility.
- Stay chilled
Connected smart refrigerators were also a big deal at CES 2017 with Samsung’s Family Hub 2.0 range perhaps predictably able to play music and display TV and recipes on its dominant 21” touchscreen, the real eye-opener being the news that Lidl will be facilitating direct food-ordering functionality from the door-embedded browser in some European regions10. Elsewhere, the Smart Instaview Refrigerator from LG features an even more whopping 29” touchscreen and Amazon Alexa integration meaning a person can view an internal fridge-cam while on the move and assemble a shopping list by voice command.
- The small gadget with big benefits
People around the world work harder than ever these days, often hunched over screens for the majority of each day – and it’s undeniably arduous having to lug a heavy laptop charger around. Proving that it wasn’t just news of big, expensive stuff coming out of CES 2017 that caught our eye, DART has produced the diddiest laptop charger in the world, taking a weight off folks’ shoulders. The DART-C11 is a mere 25% of the size of typical 65W chargers. Compatible only with Type-C notebooks, the cable also allows data transfer – and it looks pretty stylish, to boot.
- A load of garbage?
If you’ve felt that sinking feeling after leaving your supermarket shopping list at home, you sometimes bombard your other half with text messages asking whether this product or that needs to be stocked up, or you’ve simply left the store having forgotten something, GeniCan could be the answer. To ensure that someone’s next shopping list includes items that have just been thrown away, GeniCan attaches to the inside of the main bin or a recycling bin and scans barcodes as products are discarded, automatically populating the shopping list app on a smartphone. It’ll be sold stateside for around $150 to start with but GeniCan or similar solutions will hopefully end up in Blighty sometime soon – and hopefully the app will allow items to be removed from the list, in case you don’t want the déjà vu of beef wellington every week for the rest of your life.
Trak Global Group blog | January 2017
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