CES is broken into three “locations” and even at each location there are separate buildings. Today I went to the central part and looked at that expo hall. It was filled with smaller groups but it was still huge. Check out this map.

After I walked this floor, I found an entire EXTRA floor in this space, but we’ll get to that later.

A lot of what I saw at CES was about automating things we do – and some of that being robotic automation. Take for instance lawn mowing.

What I thought was one of the more impressive displays was from Worx. Now, I had helped my friend Alex R. setup the generation 1 of these Worx robots (the orange ones). It was OK. A little slow, and we had to bury a wire around his yard. This next generation doesn’t require that wire, and if you have a barrier (property line) that doesn’t physically exist, that’s the only time you have to bury something, and that’s just a magnetic strip. The previous strip was electrified.

It’s not cheap, It’s $2,400 (quarter acre), $2,600 (half acre), $3,000 (full acre). It also seems to have a lot of good smarts in it like knowing about barriers, knowing how to get across driveways (without the blades on) and other avoidance systems. This is also the residential / consumer version. The commercial version (which was not at the show) is way more powerful and uses radio towers to control themselves.

The NovaBot booth wasn’t running their machine, didn’t even have one on display. Seems they brought one, and if you look to the right, there is a guy with a laptop trying to do something to the bot. I hate shaming companies when their products don’t work great at CES in a demo; I’ve been in this position, and it stinks, but at least have some units that can just sit on the grass and look pretty as the functional machine is down.

Two products won awards, one actually has a collector on the back, and another has attachments you can put on the front for snow blowing and leaf blowing – in addition to lawn mowing. While it was cold in Vegas, there wasn’t an opportunity to see it blow snow.

Robots continued to be a solution, and a problem, with this pool cleaning robot.

It had two parts to it, one that meanders around the bottom of the pool cleaning out the gunk, and one on the top. Both at the time were inoperative and you can see a few people tinkering with them to get them operational. In the same booth was an automatic window washer. It looked pretty cool too, but it too was stationary with the fans AT FULL BLAST as if someone was mining crypto coin on it.

Plenty of interesting solutions presented, but I think I’d wait for Gen 2, or ensure there is a good trade up program before investing in some of these first gen products.

Moving into the kitchen, because all this “watching the robots clean my yard and pool” has me hungry, we turn to innovations in the kitchen.

In the left image you can see cooking pal a way to make your kitchen smarter, and a “one thing does everything” type product. In the background of that photo you can see Guru by Tramontina which seems like it is more of a step by step, recipes for people who are afraid of kitchens, type solution.

What I thought was really cool is a new technology called Ki from the wireless phone charging people who brought us Qi2. Check out this video below.

You place these largish pucks underneath your counter (it can go through 1.5 inches of anything), and then you get special appliances, and you don’t have any wires. It’s all powered wirelessly, and it seems pretty cool. With 220V systems in Europe, you get about 2 kilowatts, and with 110V you get about 1.5 killowatts, which is a fair amount of current to help you make your next meal.

The pucks aren’t huge either (both for transmission and receiving). Both about the size of the top two inches off a bowling ball.

Food innovations continued through out with event with Cargill showing off a new (but something I already thought existed) way to deliver food to people without having to interact with them. Think an amazon pickup locker, but for food.

They come in 3 flavors, heat, cold or just a box. They will allow food to be in there for 30 minutes, and then you have to take it out and remake it. They can be stacked and are each IP addressable, though no one knew if it was IPv6 capable.

There were a few other food innovations that I saw that I thought were cool, this is a home (or commercial I suppose) bartender. It essentially just mixes 2 (pictured is 4) things together to make you a drink.

I’ve been looking at these devices for a while, and even considering making my own. Not because I like to drink, but because I like to tinker. But one thing I learned with a failed experiment with a VinoTemp wine dispenser is that cleaning it, and maintenance is terrible. I’m not sure about this one, but it would have been nice to see one operating and ask questions about cleaning. That’s not to say they weren’t there any available for questions, I just didn’t come across them in the 15 football fields of expo booths.

Last (I think, I just write these as I kind of walk through all my images) was a way to keep beverages fresh by being able to reclose them. This is one of the many solutions at CES that seems great, but if it adds fractional cost to beverages (already a slim margin) then it isn’t likely to see to much traction.

It looks like an interesting solution but to a problem not too many people have. Maybe it would work better if we started distributing beverages in LARGE aluminum cans?

Let’s move onto housing. There were two vendors there showing how quickly prefab houses can be placed and used. One seemed like it was a modular house that just ships complete and another folds out.

In the top row you can see Vessel. Think a shipping container sized livable unit. It looked great with good sturdy construction. It is a mini-home, but still quite livable. On the bottom is Boxabl. They actually unfold into a home, but comes all assembled. So this was a bit larger (about 3 shipping containers) but it compacts down into a really small form factor. All of the systems come with insulation, thick doors and things you need for just about any climate. Cool to see these housing solutions pop up.

But what if you are customizing your home – well let’s dip into the shower, shall we?

Kohler was there with an impressive booth and some interesting innovations in their products. The only part is they looked well suited for a bathroom renovation than a simple replacement. A lot of spraying / moving nozzles, and a tub that flowed over the edges into the floor. It all looked really cool, but I really just wish my kitchen nozzle didn’t leak!

If you are into stylishly customizing your home automation systems, then plenty of companies like Zaha design were there with some really off the wall (get the pun?) designs. Some looked really cool, some looked like they were from Alien, but the all certainly looked innovative.

Speaking of home automation, Z-Wave had a booth with a bunch of different vendors in it.

The one that REALLY caught my eye was Swidget on the right. You can probably tell from the illustration on their booth what they do. In wall power switches and outlets that are controlled via a module you plug into the center. Want to switch from Z-Wave to some other tech, just take out the module! Want to upgrade to Z-Wave 800, then just pull out the module and put a new one in. It was a really slick idea, and the price points were quite reasonable too. If I was redoing a house, I’d probably go in this direction.

As you can see a lot of the typical locks, bolts and other entry systems. I didn’t see too much for lighting, and everyone seemed to want controllable lighting. This was one of the cooler demos I saw about that.

This is Blinkly, and what I like about this setup was that when you install the equipment, you take your phone camera and point it at the install. It runs a series of patterns through it, and with the camera, the system figures out where you have placed things.

I’ve been doing some LED work myself, and I can tell you that one of the most difficult parts of playing with LEDs is mapping out where “geographically” a LED is compared to where it is in a string of LEDs that are being controlled sequentially. I talked with the people who had a linux terminal open (because I know they knew what was really going on) and it is all written in C, so it seems as though you can use the easy interfaces, or really get down into the code and mess with it if you want.

I’m going to hop onto my soap box a little bit here with Cybersecurity, but I’ll make it quick. I saw this as I was wandering around.

I’ve never heard of Tuya, but maybe they are one of those embedded companies that are just in a lot of places I’ve never looked. But having 647,000 developers sounds downright frightening.

In everything I saw there was some kind of embedded controller, and for each of those controllers, there is someone writing custom code on TOP of that. Given 3900 vendors, and let’s say a quarter of them having products that communicate in some way, and let’s assume they have 5 products. That’s 5000 new products that have a platform, code, and a way to communicate. Then assume the goal is to sell 10,000 of each product. We’ve now put 50,000,000 products into the world. Who is going to check all that code, for each use case? Who will protect that device from hackers? The end consumer? NO! It’s just a lot, and thinking about 647,000 developers all writing code… It’s impossible to check all that code and ensure it is safe and reliable. There is a scaling issue of cybersecurity that is NOT keeping pace with innovation, and delivery of these goods to consumers.

OK, done with my opinions for now, let’s talk about the elderly (another group that is NOT going to patch their stuff).

The AARP had a large booth for a lot of smaller vendors. I mean, it really makes sense. A large aging population and they are going to need help.

The product on the left is a toilet that can take all sorts of vitals by just sitting down on it. From this seat you can get heart rate, blood O2, and blood pressure. It’s amazing! I’d imagine you can also get weight with a little work.

In the middle is a walker that has cameras and sensors on it to help rehab people by analyzing their gait and walk. Incredible!

On the right is a non-contact health monitoring system using radar. I’ll have a “lightning round” at the bottom of this post with overall innovations and there is A LOT of health stuff.

Speaking of health, did you know that Citizen has a new e-watch? I didn’t.

I asked how the system compares to the Samsung watches, and they said they don’t really like to do comparisons. I think this is a little bit of … well… whatever. Anyway, comparing this watch to the Samsung Pro 5 which my son has, it looks quite similar. You of course get some of the fancier straps, bands and bezels with Citizen. However, the bezel doesn’t turn, and I didn’t see that it did the virtual bezel either, but maybe I missed it.

What they did have was this app on the phone that monitors your mental acuity (along with sensors on the watch) and helps you determine what kind of chronotype person you are. They had a lot of details about working with NASA and using AI to determine when you are at your best. The other thing I thought was cool is on the right. If you need a little bit of a boost, they have suggestions on how you can do that which is best for you. I asked how come meditation isn’t on there yet, and they said that’s because NASA hasn’t released proven guidance on that. The rep did say that as NASA approves more details and tech, that they would update the system.

Greenworks was there with a line of lawn mowers, power tools and e-bikes. I’m more of an EGO person myself having bought into that line of rechargeable systems (for lawn work anyway). I didn’t know they had e-bikes though.

Just to give you some idea of the size of this place, I had been walking for about 4 hours at this point, and this is how far I got.

It’s just HUGE. Continuing on.

This was pretty cool, but I’m not sure if you can “see” it. It’s a 3D dashboard for things like cars. It has eye tracking and it makes an image that kind of seems like those lenticular prints. If you get an eye lock, it actually looks as though the gauges have dimension. It’s cool and little unsettling at the same time. But mostly cool.

Let’s wrap up this part with power and e-bikes.

There were A LOT of portable power solutions at CES. Like I’ve been saying, this place is huge, I’ve probably only covered about 50% of it, but I’ve seen at least 9 different portable power solutions. It seems that with new technology was the ability to make these cheaper and hold more offline power (at least that is what a couple of smart sounding people said as they walked by me taking pictures). I’d expect these to come down in price and start competing on capacity as well.

Last on the e-bikes thing. I recall when I went to REI a few months ago inquiring about the e-bikes, most of them (if not all of them) seemed to have their battering embedded into the center post of the bike. I asked what happens when the battery wears out (because I’ve had phones before, I know these have a life) and there wasn’t a really good answer. I was really happy to see that most of these e-bike vendors have external and removable power systems. It’s makes sense for charging, recycling and usability.

I then wandered into the innovation space and took pictures of all the stuff I thought was pretty cool. I’ll not write about each one, but I’ll caption them, and encourage you to click on the images to scroll through them. If you want more details or have questions, drop a comment here, and I’ll do what I can to go find their booth and ask them your questions.

Then I went downstairs! Trust me, we’re almost finished.

The basement of this expo hall had even more geographic based groups, for instance, here is France and Switzerland.

EVERY country seemed to have these. Though I’ll admit, I didn’t look for Burma, North Korea or Iran. The France area was HUGE too.

There were a lot of small innovations down here from sensors to detect ice, water and temperature on surfaces (like wings, props and wind turbines) to … literally anything you can think of. Vacuums, hair dryers, AI systems for everything. In the spirit of e-bikes, they even had a snow version.

After wandering and wondering around down here, I started to leave but forgot that while walking in I totally skipped the Amazon section.

Here’s a video of that robot doing it’s thing.

I’m headed to a third area today that I haven’t been to. I’m not even sure what is there, but I’ve been impressed and surprised every time. I’ll post more either tonight or tomorrow morning. I do wish I had these roller wheels to stick to the bottoms of my feet though!

Thanks for reading along and please drop a comment letting me know what you think.

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1 Comment

  1. Great set of posts on CES! Considering the issues with getting e-bikes to the US the last few years I guess that’s maybe why there were so many on display? During the pandemic there was a huge uptick in demand but not enough supply (like everything else I suppose).

    I would’ve liked to see more progress being made on the health tech side of the house. Also I can’t wait for general purpose bots to become a thing as these single purpose bots seem be creating a reusability issue in and of themselves sorta of like you mentioned with the e-bikes with built in batteries.

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