CES Sands Level Two (part two)
Okay, I got to take a breath, do some stretching, and grab a Gatorade. Ready to keep walking.....
You see on the screen in the background that this booth has something to do with food, right? We'll yes and no. This, I recall, is a vendor that was at the show a few years ago, PicoLinker by WestUnitis. Remember Google Glass? I do, I still have one sitting in it's original box in my closet, just waiting for the day when it becomes a collector's item. This is one of those. A screen beyond a lens allows a heads-up display and, like Glass, is highly dependent upon the software people are willing to develop for it. The video shows a day in the life of this happy young lady: biking, translating to passers-by, cooking, etc. I wonder if the battery lasts more than a couple of hours, unlike Google Glass. Anyway, I am sure there is a market for this somewhere, but until it becomes ubiquitous or otherwise monetized, this might end up in someone else's closet. Oh, yes, she uses it to show her step-by-step directions to cook a recipe. Maybe someday. Expensive for now for the value proposition. But, that's what this show is all about. Otherwise, we might as well browse around Best Buy.
No, this girl is not sleeping, I just caught her in a blink. I really like these things and toyed with the idea of getting one for 3CIOs, so we could "walk" around our clients' offices. Think Facetime on wheels. This one is a company called Beam. The remote user can not only be seen, but can control the movements of the robot. I took one like this for a test drive from Orlando and got to roll around an office in Southern CA for a while. It has sensors all around it to keep it from bumping into things and the one I tested could telescope up and down, which would be helpful if pulling up to a conference table. I think the biggest drawback for me was the lack of door-opening mechanical arms or elevator-pushing fingers. I don't hang out in many buildings without doors or stairs. Again, maybe someday. I could certainly see this being used in restaurants, though. How about a virtual host? A virtual order taker? It would be fun to try!
Wireless Charging. Yup, we have all seen the plethora (did you say "phethora?") of wireless charging bases for phones and watches. But with the ones on Amazon, they still need to be plugged into an outlet or USB port. Then you have to put the device directly on the charging pad or disk or something. I saw two alternates at CES. The first one, Cota Technology/ Ossia was around a couple of years ago, but it looks like they made some real progress. It is like Star Wars. It sends out multiple beams around the room and bounces off walls and hard objects until it returns a "path" to the device. It then sends RF signals to the device, directly along that path to power the device. Because the beam is so focused, apparently it has enough juice to make something happen. Heck, I'm not an engineer, but it seems to work somehow. The coolest thing (as if wireless power was not enough) is that if you move, the beams will follow you. That's sick (in a good way).
The second company is new to me and it is just as sick. Wi-Charge, to power with light. Yes, infrared light to be exact, This tech uses three IR beams in a ceiling mounted puck to locate and lock onto your device. Yup, only three beams per-puck at this time. The guy had it built into an iPhone case, but I questioned the practicality of our restaurant guests all having this case and suggested a contactless charging pad. He basically said, "yeah, great idea! You are so smart...oh, wait, I already did this" and showed me one built into a movable 4-top. The IR beams power and recharge the battery bank and then the guest can place their phone on the charger. I like this use case. I will be following this company/ tech for sure.
You can't say technology without first thinking about toilets, right? Me either. Actually, I never thought I'd see the day where booths were trying to one-up one another for the coolest toilet. Runner up, Neorest, with its Actilight technology that helps keep the john clean using it's photocatalytic glaze and IR light. Those are some mighty big words for toilet technlogy, brother! Read the banner, it's actually pretty cool.
But the hands-down winner of the toilet tech competition was the Kohler Numi Intelligent Toilet. Oh, sure, it has the bidet that can be customized for each of 6 users; you shouldn't have to ask. But it also keeps profile settings for seat height, auto-flush timing, and music you want to hear while, um, lounging. It also has a little beam (see it on the floor to the right) that senses your foot and auto-raises the seat for you. Oh, lest i forget....all of this can be controlled via Amazon Echo tech. "Alexa, I apologize but I have an upset stomach."
The next item just blew me away! Probably more practical for luxury hotels than for restaurants, but I could certainly see this by the pool at the Mandarin. The Sunflower Umbrella from ShadeCraft Robotics. This (under $10K) umbrella does everything you could ever want and umbrella to do. It tilts and rotates automatically to follow the sun, it lowers itself if it detects high winds, it has high-quality speakers and camera built into it, and it it completely solar powered. Wow! It can even charge your devices while lounging around your infinity pool overlooking the poor people in the valley below. Because of the price point, I don't see this thing on every pool deck for sure, but for those luxury hospitality companies looking for something to wow their guests. This just might do it.
If there was one tech at CES this year that was most pervasive, it was IoT. Everything is connecting to the Internet now. Some via your phone/ Bluetooth and others through your network directly. With all of this happening, you can imagine how network traffic will be changing over the next couple of years. There were several companies devoted to helping optimize the IoT network transactions and others about securing these devices. BitDefender Box is one of the latter. A simple plug-in "firewall" that screens the IoT traffic moving all around your house and making sure it only does what it is supposed to do. You know, that last thing you want to see is your Internet toaster trying to infiltrate your Internet toilet.
More to come! - Joe