CES 2017 — Robotics to the Big Green Frog

The CES Crowds

While at CES I was asked by some of our clients to share my ‘favourite finds’ from this years show.

To me, there were two overriding areas of product innovation that stood out beyond all others: Robotics and ‘Smart’ technology.

  1. A Rise in Robotics

The International Robotics Federation predict that the number of domestic household robots will rise to 31 million by 2019. While I am obviously biased towards favouring Emotech’s Olly (designed by therefore!), there was a marked increase in the number of domestic robots on show, proof of this rapidly growing sector.

Szu, Chelsea and Hongbin with OLLY and their 4 CES Innovation Awards

My first stop was Tech East to visit the aforementioned Emotech team and Olly, their robot with personality. Olly contains brain inspired AI and is capable of proactive assistance, adapting its personality to suit the user.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Chelsea Chen, one of Emotechs founders said “The industrial design has been changed completely, all hardware is now tailor made and we built a speech recognition ourselves. On top of that, we created a whole UI system, using abstract color, shape, movement to enable Olly to express emotion and personality.”

Jibo on Ling’s stand

Some of you may remember Jibo, the home robot, successfully crowdfunded on Indiegogo in 2014. Jibo have patterned with Ling Technology and were on Ling’s stand, along with a number of other home robots: Orby ‘The Magical Crystal Ball for Your Kid’, Birdy ‘The Reading Companion for Your Kid’, and Wavebot ‘The Butler of a Modern Lifestyle.’

Sunflower by ShadeCraft

Possibly my favourite, (non therefore designed!) robotics products, had to be the Sunflower by ShadeCraft. The solar powered Sunflower tracks the sun as it moves across the sky, collecting energy throughout the day and providing the optimal position for shade — you can also charge your phone from it simultaneously. Both the product and booth were impressive with great theatre and a resident DJ!

The Furrion Prosthesis

The Furrion Prosthesis was (quite literally) hard to miss; a 14-foot tall exoskeleton which felt like it had walked straight out of a sci-fi film. Furrion is built for off road racing, piloted by a human deep in the belly of the beast. On their website, Furrion state that ‘the primary objective of the project was the creation of responsive, stable and powerful exo-bionic platform that amplifies the motions of the pilot’, and it definitely looks like piloting it would be a memorable experience!

Although not within the area of robotics, I can’t not mention that their stand also included an expansive winnebago, with a built in Jacuzzi … and helicopter on the roof.

2. Smart Solutions

There were an overwhelming number of ‘Smart’ products at this years show: Smart Hairbrushes, Vehicles, Shoes, Pans, Bottles … the list goes on.

All of the major car manufacturers now attend CES to showcase their latest offerings for smart / driverless / connected / electric cars.

Toyota Concept i

The Toyota ‘Concept i’ stood out with its theatrical door opening. The prototype was beautifully made and as you can see attracted a large crowd.

The vision for the intelligent car is that it would learn about the users needs via its ‘Yui’ interface which Toyota describe as ‘more pal than interface.’

Smart Scooter by Gogoro

As a Central London commuter myself, the ‘Smart Scooter’ by Gogoro really appealed to me. They launched in Taiwan in 2015 and have sold 10,000 ‘Smart Scooters’ already. Their shallow battery packs are docked in ‘GoStations’ which can be found every 1.3km in Taiwan. Certainly one to watch out for.

Honda ‘Riding Assist’ Motorbike

As the name suggests, the Honda self-balancing motorbike with ‘riding assist’ technology helps the driver to balance. Not using gyroscopes, as most would presume, this bike uses similar technology to the Uni-Cub mobility device already in production from Honda.

The fact that the bike also eerily follows the driver to a parking spot really is something to behold. Imagine the 1977 so-so film “The Car”, but without the vehicle having a predisposed goal of doing you harm and you’re pretty much there.

A preview of some of SGW’s smart home products

SGW were at the show showcasing their newest range of smart home products (designed by therefore). Their discreet styling helps the range to blend into any home with the latest technologies on the inside … more to be revealed soon.

NB. 3D Printing Progression

We have been using 3D printing more and more, at therefore and I was impressed to see further advancements at this years show with an abundance of 3D printers and pens.

Not only have the printers vastly improved in quality, but the number of materials they can print has increased dramatically too!

Gone are the days of printing small, fuzzy objects for fun; high quality works of art printed from carbon fibre and steel were the way to go at CES 2017.

And finally, after more than 25,000 steps, I ended my trip in the only way I saw fit: dining beside a vast pink lake, under the watchful eyes of a giant inflatable frog #onlyinvegas.

by Graham Brett, Managing Director of therefore

To hear more about the work therefore do, please contact Graham, graham.brett@therefore.co.uk
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