CES promises the future and the next cool thing. This year we saw 8K rounded corner TVs and advancements in VR and AR game stations, but the biggest trend we observed was robots- lots of robots! There were so many robots that we came away with an odd sense that maybe, just maybe, humans are not really needed at all.
We observed robots completing mundane tasks such as pill sorting, product placing, and object picking. The company FANUC, had an interesting booth where man and machine were pitted against each other. Occasionally, a human came close to beating a robot at a task, but the robot usually won and was way more precise with its movements.
There were robot carriers, robot waiters, robot cats, AND robot cat waiters (the BellaBot meows when you get a drink), but our favorite was a robot window cleaner that uses suction to maneuver up and down a window. The fact that it was named HoBot has nothing to do with us liking this bot.
We took a tour of John Deere’s enormous crop sprayer. Not only did they have the best hats at the conference, their sprayer was a technical marvel coming in at 200 feet wide with cameras spanning the entire length. Each camera can differentiate between crops and weeds enabling the sprayer to deliver an accurate mix of nutrients and water, or weed killer, depending on the object it identifies.The sprayer is a marvel of machinery and technology and costs just $480,000 or so.
Reinforcing the lack of need for humans was the NEON project by Star Labs (a division of Samsung) which showcased artificially generated people. Fully articulated, with unique gestures, these composite humans are rendered by a computer and can walk and talk. They will eventually respond in real-time to real situations on screens. Not only do they look real, their mannerisms and movement are very convincing even to deep fake connoisseurs like ourselves. The demo was a little simple and rough, however, the potential is amazing.
These robots are doing mundane tasks at a large scale but they are doing them with cold efficiency. Soon, a nice digital avatar will tell us to stay out of their way and go home and play some games, which we will happily do. If we can’t find a partner, we can always play against a robot.
It wasn’t all robots at CES. Here are some other fun inventions and cool products we observed:
We hope to be checking in with you next year from CES, but that remains to be seen as we may just send a robot.