The Consumer Electronics Show has grown every year to cover all the new ways that we integrate technology into our lives. When I first went to CES in 2004, Monster Cable was the big name. Microsoft still had a booth there. Projectors that could hit new levels of brightness and color recreation were these mind blowing innovations. There were movie seats that could (sort of) react to the movie you were watching!
There was no Bluetooth. There was no WiFi. No one was using a tablet. Or a smartphone. Drones were science fiction.
Back then the convention only filled the North and Central Halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center. If you weren’t careful, you could wander out of CES and right into the Adult Entertainment Expo that was often happening at the same time in the South Hall. Sometimes you didn’t even realize you had gone into a totally different conference because the booth babes looked about the same.
Oh yeah. In 2004 we had booth babes.
The CES of 2018 was much different than the one of 14 years ago. Not only has the technology changed, but there’s just so much more of it now. We use tech for everything and it has become so common in everyday life that even people who don’t follow the industry were asking us questions like “Did you get a chance to see the laundry folding robot yet?!”
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see everything. With only a few of us to cover it, and CES filling almost 10 entire convention spaces in 5 different campuses, there were some things that simply fell through the cracks.
Alpine’s Floating Car Stereo
A big hubbub was made about Kenwood’s Android Auto head unit that didn’t need a cable to stream from your phone to the stereo, so we made sure to check it out. We waited 20 minutes for a demonstration of what was arguably just another Android Auto unit. The Google representative wasn’t able to answer any questions about it. The Kenwood folks didn’t seem to want to even acknowledge it. In the end, it was a huge letdown.
What we SHOULD have been clamoring to see was Alpine’s new iLX-F309!
With a monsterous 9 inch touch screen display, the F309 sets itself apart in the world of car audio by being able to mount in a wide range of vehicles. Typically a touchscreen is limited by the space available in the vehicle, either single DIN or double DIN. Double DIN stereos usually max out at 6-7 inches of screen space because of a pesky thing called Pythagoram’s Theorem. Units that were larger than this would require complicated (and often expensive) installations that involved custom building a new part of the dashboard.
The F309 gets around this limitation by extending the screen outside of the stereo itself, instead attaching to it with a pivoting set of slides. The screen can move up or down by 30mm, tilt towards or away from you, and be pushed back or pulled out from the dash by 25mm and mounts into a (wait for it . . . ) single DIN space! It can be controlled either with its own interface or via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. It will be available starting in February 2018 for an estimated $1,100.
Aura Home Monitoring
Most home security and automation relies on a system of motion detection and presence sensors. The inherent problem with these is that most homes have more than one person and trying to get the system to work around EVERYONE is a massive pain. Sure, I can tell my system to arm when it senses me leaving the home (because my phone goes a certain distance away from the geofence), but what about my kids who are still at home?!
Enter the Aura sensors!
These guys work on the concept of monitoring the wireless waves that bounce around and through every home in America. From radio, to wifi, to Z-Wave, there’s a TON of wireless signals going through your home and around your body at all times. When those waves get disturbed, these beacons are able to tell where the interruption is and how big it is. Think of it as a pebble disrupting a pond. Only here, you’re the pebble.
Using this method, the sensors can see exactly how large an object is and what kind of pattern it’s making in the wireless mesh. In this way, it can classify these disruptions as a person, or a pet, or mechanical (like a fan). When paired to the mobile app, it can also inform the system of specifically WHICH person is making the disruption.
Aura is available now at their website with kits starting at $199.
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No seriously: ANYTHING.
Want to see the magical Samsung Wall that was showcased this year in their CES booth?
The Samsung space was a lesson in how NOT to do . . . well, anything. You couldn’t see anything they wanted to show because there was 50 people between you and the object. Those people couldn’t get out of the way because there was no where for them to go. In an effort to make their TV’s look even more impressive, they also had the lights turned down to their lowest setting when we were there, so imagine the picture below, only we can’t see anything that’s more then three feet away.
Actual Robot Strippers
Bear with me on this one, okay?
A local club had decided to cater to the CES crowd by having “robot strippers” on stage. All perviness of this entire situation aside, I was actually kind of excited about machines that could handle delicate tasks in a realistic manner (hey, almost 50% of the human population can’t undo a bra!). Think about trying to teach a toddler how to dresss/undress and the level of dexterity it takes to do something like that, and you can (hopefully) understand my interest.
Instead, we got some sort of art project that seemed to be more a comment on how we fetishize surveillance equipment.