Internet of Everything (IoE)
Sensor-equipped objects and their networks, what Cisco calls the Internet of Everything (IoE), was a big topic at the show. While the Internet of Things (IoT) is composed of connected objects, IoE encompasses the networks that must support all the data these objects generate and transmit.
Cisco has the ability to capture and analyze complex data. With this capability, new technology will allow them to get the right data to the right device to the right person at the right time. They have a vision to take wearable technologies beyond a step and relay the data captured via your tracking device to your doctor who could then factor this newfound data into their diagnosis.
The data Cisco captures will be utilized to understand what we are doing and make informed decisions. It will help us protect ourselves and our homes, understand our achievements in fitness, and aid us to set achievable goals.
Smart Home Technology
Smart home technology was everywhere at CES. In year’s past, thermostats, remote controllable lights and outlets, and kitchen appliances were all on separate apps that do not speak to one another. Now, with more connected devices that monitor and protect the home from companies like Qualcomm, Nexia, Revolv, and others, this has changed. There is a more open platform of connectivity rather than each manufacturer pursuing their own system.
The Revolv Hub is a smartphone app that pulls all of these separate apps into a single experience and lets you automate actions. It utilizes GeoSense technology so you can “control your house automatically based on your proximity to or from your home, all with your phone never leaving your pocket.” For instance, it senses when you’re arriving home and can set activities in motion (lights turn on, front door unlocks, etc.) to welcome you home.
Eyeglasses Galore & Eye-Tracking Technology
Thanks to the introduction of Google Glass and Oculus Rift in 2013, there were a number of companies showcasing their own version of wearable smart glasses, augmented-reality glasses, and virtual-reality goggles. While Google didn’t have a booth at the show, Google Glass was extremely prominent among attendees of the show – and we even met someone who let us try them out for ourselves.
We had the chance to check out the latest version of Oculus Rift VR, augmented-reality goggles that put you in the game. The unit has the ability to track left and right head movements, as well as when you lean. We tried it both sitting and standing and found that it could be a little difficult to control when standing, but, then again, it might just take some getting used to.
The EyeLock myris was one of our favorite new devices for its unique security aspect. While many companies are focusing on fingerprint technology to unlock devices, myris focuses on eye technology. The myris is a computer mouse-size device that plugs into the USB port on your computer or tablet. Pick it up, look at it, and the sensor will immediately scan your eye to verify your identity. It’s a simple, well-designed gadget that provides added security for your devices.
Robots Move Mainstream
Robots are moving from a novelty object into more mainstream application. For play, work, or entertainment, robotics took up an increasing amount of floor space. Five Elements Robotics’ Budgee has a childish and friendly appearance with its colorful, lopsided eyes. It acts as a second pair of hands with its bungee that carries around your items and uses a “follow-me” technology to track your actions.
Parrot’s palm-sized quadrocopter, based on the popular AR.Drone, was a big hit at the show. The MiniDrone has much of the same technology as the AR.Drone, with the ability to adjust the altitude, rotation, and pitch of the robot from its iOS app. It comes with two removable wheels that that allow the MiniDrone to roll around floors, walls, and ceilings, in addition to flying.
Suitable Technologies introduced Beam in 2012 and have since seen a lot of growth in their product. The motorized robot has been described as the lovechild of an iPad and a segway. Each bot is equipped with a 17-inch flatscreen that displays the user’s face. These remote presence robots are popular in hospitals, especially in rural areas, where there may be a shortage of doctors. They allow physicians to “beam” themselves into a patient’s room to diagnose them and offer medical advice during emergencies.
Powerbanks & Wireless Speakers
There was a sea of portable battery chargers on the show floor – ranging in different sizes, shapes, colors, textures, and use of materials. One of our favorites was Powerocks new Flash Magicstick. The compact lipstick-shaped design has an LED light to show how charged it is (by the color of the light) and provides enough power to double the battery life for smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.
In addition, there were a large number of companies showcasing wireless speakers. Two companies that stood out to us were a British tech company, Pure, and Snowsound® Acoustic Panels (from Atlantic). Both of these companies view their speakers as decorative art.
Pure featured their Jongo range of streaming speakers that use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. A big selling point on these speakers is that you can remove the speaker grille and swap it for a different color. They have very bright colored speakers, as well as more muted tones.
Snowsound® Acoustic Panels eliminate echo and enhance sound – and are 100% recyclable. The speakers come in three different styles that can be wall-mounted or free-standing. WIth the many styles and color options, the speakers are designed to easily fit in any environment.
As the Kickstarter platform has gained popularity, more startups are using it to crowdsource funding for their projects. Two products funded by Kickstarter (making over 3x their goal) were at the show, and, we must say, we love them.
MOSS, from Modular Robotics, is a magnetic robot construction system that requires no coding or wiring. Each cube has a different function and lets you build robots that walk, crawl, and respond. They are basically Legos on steroids – and fun for anyone!
The gTar by Incident is a fully digital guitar that makes it easy for anybody to play music, regardless of experience. All you have to do is dock your iPhone in the body, load up the gTar app, and an array of interactive LEDs along the fretboard will show you how to play. It’s a very cool product.
As you can see, this year’s show presented some key themes – the most apparent being “connectivity”. As consumers adopt more technology into their lives, we, as designers, have to envision how we connect those technologies to provide seamless control and a meaningful user experience.
We’re looking forward to seeing new ideas this year and playing our part in the design of innovative consumer electronics in 2014.