My Experience at CES 2022
This year marked my first time at the CES trade show in Las Vegas. Omicron had put a slight damper on things — more than half of the companies canceled their participation and the organizers decided to cut down the event to just one day. If we were to talk numbers, CES regularly attracts around 140 thousand people. Compare that to barely 40 thousand in 2022. But that really was the only downside I can think of since there was still a lot to see and marvel at.
I was holding my breath to finally check out futuristic tech related to VR and robotics.
The first thing I did was head down to see a flying car made by a Japanese startup called Skydrive which is scheduled for launch in 2025. I had a quick chat with the developers and they told me that by 2040–2050 flying cars might already be the new norm. How do you feel about this prediction? I asked them about the roads too. They said that there is a gradual shift for the roads, highways and freeways to be rebuilt so that they could accommodate both flying and traditional cars. I guess that’s the case for Japan but I’m not sure about the rest of the world. I definitely want to remain hopeful. How long have we been waiting for the flying cars to come along anyway?
A few years back, I stumbled across a robot-staffed cafe in downtown San Francisco. You walk in, a robot takes your order and prepares your coffee while commentating the process. The quality of the coffee is always the same, the milk froth on your capuchino always turns out the same kind of creamy and frothy — there’s no human error factor which I can really appreciate.
I was reminded of that experience when I saw Wacha — the matcha robot. This miniature robot is cuteness overload personified! In addition to being a cutie, it can make you an authentic Japanese matcha tea and chat with you. Having spoken with the founder, I found out that the company is planning to sell the robot to elderly people who live alone and, as expected, to cafe businesses.
But this wasn’t the only restaurant industry robot that I got to see. Next up was a robot waiter called Servi (to be entirely honest though, I’d call it a busboy rather than a waiter). This robot picks up dirty dishes and brings out orders but it isn’t programmed to communicate with the customers. So the Servi representative assured, this technology is not there to replace human work so much as complement it. Servi delivers the orders from the kitchen using cameras and laser sensors for a human waiter to then give the orders to the customers.
The manufacturer said that the restaurants which are currently using Servi have reported that their waiters now have more time to focus their attention on the customers and get bigger tips as a result. In case you’re planning to buy Servi for your restaurant, you can do so for a monthly subscription fee of $999.
3D shoes from LuxCreo — they’re at least as good as Yeezy 😊 Very light, stretchable, eco-friendly and quite futuristic-looking in my view. And did I mention these shoes are printed on a 3D printer (hence the name)? I got on the waiting list and I’m so looking forward to getting my pair! Another thing I wanted to note is the variety of different styles and colors. The shoes are definitely made for people who want to stand out.
This CES also gave me a chance to kick back and relax with the help of massage robots. I’m actually not a big fan of regular massage chairs. I’ve tried them a few times at the car wash and couldn’t see what the hype was about. But boy am I glad I’ve tried this South Korean miracle. 15 minutes in this armchair feels like an hour worth of professional massage.
The armchair first scans your body and identifies tension zones. Then it rolls up its sleeves (ok, it doesn’t literally do that) and starts massaging each of the identified zones. I was stunned by the quality of foot massage I got from this baby. Quick disclaimer: I’m a big foot massage buff and can tell the real deal from shoddy service, so I can certainly say that this armchair can hold a candle to the best foot massage I’d had in the Chinatown area of NYC.
The Hutech armchairs have been available in South Korea since 2007 but it’s only now that the company is rolling them out for the American market. The armchair is priced at around $9000. Would you buy one for your home?
Yet another robot for the robot tally of CES 2022. Actually it’s humanoid, and a pretty advanced one.
Ameca can keep up a conversation, answer questions, has a pretty good sense of humor and even dance skills. She also deflected the arm of someone who reached out to touch her in mid air. That’s right, it’s 2022 and robots have personal boundaries.
In the future, Ameca and her siblings are planned to be used in shopping malls and airports, for example, they could guide you to your destination in case you get lost or need directions.
Who knows, in a couple years you might even see Ameca teaching alongside me at English For IT.
How would you feel about having a robot teacher?