Las Vegas is a strange place, filled with many, many strange things. In that sense, there is no better place to host the Consumer Electronics Show.
CES is where strange products meet the world—this is where the Smart Toilet was launched, where TVs first grew curves, where cameras sprouted wings, and reality was made virtual.
There is plenty of that this year, of course. But for my first day, I tried to skip the weird stuff. Instead, I sought out the products that hit the industrial world—solutions that cross the consumer divide with potentially game-changing advances for manufacturers.
David Becker/ Getty Images
|Photo: David Becker/ Getty Images|
That's not exactly the classic CES story, sure. But at this point of hyper-connectivity and sensor-laden everything, the consumer and industrial technologies are really starting to blur. That was easy to see as soon as I hit the floor.
So here it goes:
Bosch Rexroth: Easy IoT
CES 2017-as you would expect—is an IoT wonderland. Booth after booth, device after device, this whole sprawling conference is a ballad to the power and potential of connectivity. However, for many manufacturers out there, harnessing this potential can seem daunting, to put it mildly. Bosch Rexroth, however, is out to change this impression.
Running under the battle cry, "Simply. Connected." the company is out there showing how painless IoT solutions can really be.
Case in point: the Industry 4.0 Jump Start Kit.
This device, priced under $100, is stuffed with eight sensors to measure pressure, position, vibration, temperature, humidity, and every other conceivable data point, all of it tracked and recorded through Bluetooth low energy connections. The device is sensitive enough to detect the pressure difference of a few inches of altitude or the slightest shake, shimmy, or temperature change. Which means, you can literally set this on top of a machine on the floor and, boom, it's part of the IoT. As simple as it gets.
Panasonic: Steady as It Goes
Sure, it’s a cup on a rolly egg, but this one has some serious industrial tech behind it.
Panasonic's "Motion Sensing Unit" is equipped with an acceleration sensor and gyro sensor to keep industrial robots and heavy equipment even and steady, no matter what they encounter. This means, for example, a heavy cart on an AGV can transport its good safely even if they are incorrectly or unevenly stacked or if they hit an unexpected bump.
The big news yesterday at Panasonic was the beginning of production at the Gigafactory for its traditional 2170 battery cells. But the company has some other fancy tricks up its sleeves as well.
Here's a good one: a flexible, twistable lithium-ion battery built for wearables, embedded systems, and a seemingly infinite list of possible applications. It's exactly the kind of future I'm looking for here.
Nikon: Freeze Frame
Nikon went full Matrix at CES this year with its crazy-cool Project HeliX 360 display. Attendees lined up all day to take their turn jumping in the center of a ring of high-speed cameras to get a 360 freeze-frame action shot. The results are pretty epic.
DAQRI: Predator Mode
We've written about DAQRI's Smart Helmet a lot over the last few months, but this was my first chance to really play with one. I'm happy to say it lives up to everything we promised.
First, the interface is genius. It requires no hands to operate: just a quick glance up reveals a menu of options, and a steady stare "clicks" the choice you're after. At the show, this included a detailed view of a turbine engine and thermal imaging of the world around you—what they call "Predator" mode—all of it hovering in space around you, displayed over real-life in perfect, augmented reality.
The company also released a fancy new pair of smart glasses today. I get to play with that one tomorrow. Stay tuned...
And, okay. It's CES and we can't really deny the fun of it here. So here are some dancing robots: