CES 2018 round-up

Robots… Quantum advancements… rollable screens. Unfortunately, MTM is not writing a science fiction blockbuster. Instead we have been looking at the key announcements and trends from the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) – the annual technology bonanza bringing every AI start-up and tech giant to Las Vegas to show their latest wares. While 2017 was the year Amazon’s Alexa awoke the world to the possibilities of artificial intelligence, this year there were some broader developments.

Robots have feelings too

Last year the world was introduced to Erica – a robot so real she starred in the Taylor Wessing portrait prize, usually restricted to animate beings. This year, our humanoid obsession with robotics appears to have increased. Sophia, the creation of Hong-Kong based Hanson Robotics, provides emotionally driven responses, asks questions, and has even developed feelings and preferences (or has been programmed to). She has been well received; appearing on chat shows, giving speeches, and even becoming a citizen of Saudi Arabia. Erica received a better reception at CES than LG’s Cloi, a new robot designed to co-ordinate smart homes, which sadly refused to respond to any commands. Although this may be due to his attention taken by some scantily clad robot dancers down the strip…

TV UX is rolling with the times

It wasn’t all bad for LG. The introduction by LG Display of the first rollable television garnered a much more positive response. This 65-inch 4K OLED TV rolls away into a tidy box, doubling as a speaker, and was described by engadget as “indistinguishable from magic”. While aesthetically it is stunning, and space saving, its technology also offers flexibility around aspect ratios for viewing. No longer will movie sessions be impeded by black bars hanging out on the side of the screen, now a simple click can turn 16:9 (standard viewing) to 21:9 (cinematic viewing) instantly.

VR delivers a world of pain

Virtual Reality (VR) has threatened mainstream success for years, without (yet) breaking through. But this year’s CES offers a new variation, whereby VR gets physical. Blackbox, founded in 2016 by two fitness fanatics, has developed a full-body workout in the form of a 30 minute virtual reality experience, challenging gamers to get fit. In a further development, the charged VR Teslasuit uses micro electrical charges to simulate pain, touch and pressure; developing a VR experience into a full body sensation. Imagine zombie first-person shooters where being caught causes more pain than a loss of points.

Computing takes a quantum leap

Intel made one of the most mystifying announcements, in among an unnerving drone EDM performance: it has made a breakthrough in developing its quantum computing capacity. Put simply, quantum computing arose out of a desire to make computing more energy efficient through using subatomic particles that can exist in two states simultaneously. Although quantum computing is still in a nascent stage (Intel has developed only 0.0049% of a total quantum computer), Intel CEO Brian Krzanich predicts it will be capable of solving global problems such as drug development, financial modelling and climate forecasting much faster than currently possible; which today can take even the best supercomputers months or years.

Electric cars get a Byton boost

Last year in electric cars, Faraday Future announced its arrival. Although generating a buzz, production issues at the company, depleted cash flows and an exodus of employees prevented the precocious start-up from generating much else. Many of its employees jumped ship though to Byton – a Chinese start-up set to rival Tesla (itself facing production difficulties). The Byton SUV, at an affordable £33,000, offers sleek, contemporary design, a 323 mile limit, and the interior experience of a home assistant. Through the development of Alexa-powered deep artificial intelligence, Byton boasts machine-learning capabilities that analyse vehicle data and environmental conditions to optimise the speed and settings of the vehicle. A futuristic car, both inside and out.

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If you would like to discuss CES or any other tech trends, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

About Alex Milne Turner

Alex joined us in late 2016 and has worked across both the research and strategy teams, not quite being able to make up his mind. Alex is enthusiastic about MTM, and media in general, and about most other things. He has previously worked in television production and was involved with a lot of theatre at university, constantly rebelling against his degree in Philosophy, Politics & Economics.