We’re now on day three of this year’s CES, and clearly the big trend is the excitement surrounding AI devices. With what seems like every major tech company putting massive investments into AI, a wide array of unique robots and virtual assistants have been wowing crowds this year. Virtual reality doesn’t look like it took the kinds of leaps many analysts were hoping for, but remains relevant and growing regardless. And as usual, CES continues to feature a variety of outright funny, bizarre products — many of which are still quite useful.
2017 is the year of the robot
With Amazon Alexa and virtual assistants built on its platform, CES has seen a blooming of robotics and home assistants ready for mass consumption. With bots like Olly that can understand human emotions, a prototype robotic barista from Bubblelab that likes to chat, a mobile house robot named Kuri and Lenovo’s colorfully designed smart assistant, there’s no shortage of robots that could live in our homes and work where we work. The shift hasn’t just been in raw computing capacity, but rather in the humanization of robots, making them cuter, friendlier and more like a pet we’d gladly welcome into our lives. Robots being showcased at CES include a number of useful household companions, with ones that can sort laundry (Laundroid), monitor babies (Aristotle), mow the lawn (Robo Mower) and help out in the kitchen (Mikie).
VR wasn’t quite as big as expected
This is not to say there haven’t been amazing demonstrations in VR — HTC Vive’s TPCast untethering virtual reality from the PC will undoubtedly make the experience substantially more lifelike. Taclim’s VR shoes also showcased some fascinating technology, using haptic feedback to create the illusion of walking on a variety of different types of terrain while exploring a virtual landscape. Along the same lines of VR shoes (and if walking’s not your thing), the Hypersuit gives users a vivid experience of flying. The user lays stomach down on a table, pulling on handles to control their arms to experience virtual wingsuit flying, being Superman, a bird or a bat — anything that might fly.
Laptops have gotten big this year —literally
While there have been exciting developments in touchscreen Chromebooks with Samsung’s Chromebook Plus and Chromebook Pro, along with the continuing trend of slimmer, stylish PCs, the big buzz this year has been on big laptops. Really big ones.
The Acer Predator 21X is an a monstrous machine, weighing close to 20 pounds and measuring in at 3.27 inches thick. The real appeal isn’t just its size however; it’s that gorgeous 21 inch curved display for immersive gaming. With a resolution of 2560 x 1080 it has a solid resolution, but not the most spectacular one out there. The Predator 21X is catered to people looking for the ultimate desktop replacement packed with powerful features and at least a degree of portability. It sports the latest in processing power with a 7th generation Intel Core i7 chip and dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics cards, along with 64GB of ram. Storage is massive, fitting up to four 512GB solid state drives, and the 21X comes with a variety of ports, even ones that might seem outdated, like Ethernet. The cost isn’t for the budget shopper, coming in at just under $9,000.
The other big laptop generating a lot of buzz this year is Razer’s Project Valerie, another enormous machine with three foldout 17.3 inch monitors each sporting 4K resolution. As far as a creative, immersive, portable workstation’s concerned, it’s hard to imagine anything outdoing this.
Some of the weirdest (but possibly still useful) products so far
Sensorwake Oria - If waking up to regular alarm clocks is a struggle, the Sensorwake Oria might do the trick. It uses disgusting smells to really punctuate the point that it’s time to get up.
Auri Eye Massager - In a future where we might start using VR and straining our eyes a lot of the day, what better way to unwind than with a refreshing eye massage? The Auri eye massager uses water along with warm and cool compresses to get the job done.
Spartan Radioactive Protection Underwear - The idea here is for these boxer briefs to serve as a barrier to protect against radioactive waves emitting from the technology we’re using today.
LG Tone Studio - These are speakers for your neck. This enormous looking necklace-like device creates a personal sound experience without the constraint of headphones or earbuds. Perhaps a bit quirky, but it could be a useful, less confining alternative to day-long headphone use.