CES is this week, so here we are to tell you the most interesting things we got out of it. We’ll keep adding as the week goes on, so be sure to check back at the end of the week for our final say.
Jeep’s going hybrid
I have personally been asking for this for years, and I guess they finally heard me: they’re making a Jeep hybrid available in the United States (in addition to the Commander PHEV currently only available in China)
As a part of Fiat Chrysler’s plan to electrify all Jeeps by 2020, they announced that plug-in hybrid versions of Jeep Wranglers, Compasses, and Renegades have been developed that can run up to 31 miles on the plug-in power alone.
In an era of increased focus on sustainability, Jeep seems to be attempting to salvage its image from the gas-guzzling label it’s been given. According to a Fiat Chrysler spokesperson, they want to make Jeep into a “leader in ‘green’ eco-friendly premium technology.”
Sony *might* be launching an electric vehicle
Speaking of sustainable cars, Sony, at the end of their time of the stage, briefly revealed their Vision-S all-electric sedan, which is powered by their newly designed EV platform. Sony’s CEO said that “this prototype embodies our contribution to the future of mobility.”
It was pretty tricked out. On the outside, one writer for The Verge said that it gave off “strong Porsche vibes.” Its features include 360 degree audio, 33 total sensors inside and out, and multiple luxurious looking widescreen displays, including on the back of the driver’s and passenger seat.
As I said, they just kind of threw this in quickly towards the end of their time, so it was definitely vaguer than the audience expected. There are a lot of questions hanging in the air, such as is this an actual product that’s going to be released, or just a prototype?
Mercedes’ weird living car?
In more car news (I’m noticing a trend) Mercedes released a EV concept car called the Mercedes-Benz AVTR (advance vision transportation) that’s based on the movie, Avatar. And James Cameron, Avatar’s filmmaker, is even on board, though he was a little confused by the car at first.
Some of the weird features: clear doors to bring the driver “closer to nature,” able to drive forwards, backwards, and sideways, and no steering wheel. In place of the steering wheel is biometric sensors that render a physical way to control the vehicle irrelevant, because you become one with the car. It responds to your gestures.
Another (ugly) feature is the 33 little gill-looking-things on the back that open and close which supposedly communicate between the driver and the world around them.
The carmakers said how they saw the car as more of a living thing, “an extension of a person and nature”
It’s weird, for sure, and there are no plans to bring it to production anytime soon, but I will admit it’s pretty amazing to look at.
Hyundia teams up with Uber to put cars in the sky
What’s the quintessential component of a futuristic world? Flying cars, right? Well, it’s 2020 and it looks like we’ve made it to the future. Hyundai has partnered with Uber to produce flying vehicles for the Uber fleet, as well as for mass production.
The 5-person vehicle doesn’t look like a regular car zooming through the sky, though. It actually looks a lot more like a helicopter and acts like one, too (i.e. vertical takeoff), but due to smaller, electric-powered rotors, makes a lot less noise and combustion than a typical helicopter.
Some stats: It can go up to 180 mph and reach an altitude of 1,000–2,000m, and it’s designed to recharge in as little as 5–7 min, after which it has a range of 60 miles.
Also announced were plans for a landing hub and a form of eco-friendly ground transportation to get passengers to and from the hub.
Toyota’s “city of the future”
Toyota announced their plans to open Woven City in Japan next year, dubbed the “city of the future.” The 175-acre, 2000-person city at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan, about 60 miles from Tokyo, will act as a “living laboratory” to test upcoming technology, such as self-driving cars, smart technology, robot-assisted living, and AI in a real-world environment.
Everything in the city, from people to cars to buildings, will be connected and in communication with each other via sensors, enabling some pretty extensive testing possibilities for all the new ideas being tested, one of the main objectives being maximizing AI’s potential.
The city will be fully sustainable, relying on alternative energy to run the city. Every car there will be zero-emissions.
When the city opens, it’s residents will be primarily Toyota employees and their families, retirees, researchers, and other project partners from the architecture firm they are working with to plan the city, Bjarke Ingels Group.
Samsung’s robot sous chef
Samsung rolled out a set of under-the-cabinet robotic arms with 3 fingers that use AI and computer vision algorithms to do complex prepping and cooking motions, such as grabbing ingredients from cabinets, measuring and pouring ingredients, mixing, and sorting. It did have a human assistant with it on stage, but the human’s work was minimal while the robot bore the majority of the work.
It functions through voice commands from the human assistant. Once given the command, the robot communicated the steps verbally. It was also able to adapt as it went through the process. If the human wants to modify the recipe halfway through, the robot can do it. If the human wants it to make coffee, but the robot doesn’t know how, it can instantly download the new skill and immediately execute the action.
It can even interact with “dumb” (or not smart) devices by pressing buttons, picking it up, etc. just like humans do.
People don’t need to worry about the robot accidentally stabbing its human companion with a knife. They demonstrated how the robot slows down to take caution when a knife is in its “hand” and a human gets closer.
Though there was no price announced, Samsung spokespeople mentioned that in order to make an impact in our everyday lives in the kitchen, it needs to be affordable, so that’s their goal.
From day 3: Samsung also announced a fridge that uses their Whisk smart food platform and AI in tandem with cameras in the fridge to detect what food you have and when it’s expiring. Then, it will let you know what recipes you can make with it. It’s supposed to help with food waste and indecisiveness.
Twitter is letting you censor your replies
Twitter announced that they are now giving users the ability to choose who can and cannot reply to their tweet as they’re composing it. You can make it global (anyone can reply), allow a certain group to reply, make it a panel (only people tagged can reply), or make it a statement (no one can reply).
This is seemingly a way to cut down on trolling, but people are worried about further siloing if companies, influencers, and politicians can pick and choose who will help to support their viewpoint that they expressed in their tweet.
A super realistic prosthetic arm
BrainCo launched probably the most practically beneficial product of the show. They announced their Dexus prosthetic arm which uses a brain-machine interface which allows the arm to be controlled entirely by the user’s thoughts. This creates a seamless experience that very closely resembles that of a regular arm.
People are also pointing out the fact that the price is pretty revolutionary, because not only is the technology completely innovative, at $10,000, it is a quarter of the price of most other prosthetics.
Overall, this product is a major event for people with disabilities.
TiVO creeps out of irrelevancy
When I think of TiVO, I can only think of the early 2000’s. They understand now that DVR probably isn’t going to be coming back, so have restrategized to get customers’ attention again with Stream 4k.
Stream 4k is a plug-in dongle that facilitates both streaming and live TV when used in tandem with a live TV provider (they are integrating with Sling TV as their preferred provider).
The price tag is very attractive, starting at just $49 at launch and $69 after that. Even the higher price tag is still a lot cheaper than their competitors.
Stream 4k is scheduled to be released in April 2020.
Mophie wants to charge bigger things
Mophie is known for their portable power banks that can charge your phone if it dies on the go, a music festival/travel essential, but now they can help you out if you get stranded with a dead car battery, too.
They announced Powerstation Go, a portable jump starter that can jump your car, even an SUV, with 44,000 mWh of power.
It has a few accessories with it, too, like mini jumper cables, a flashlight, and ports for charging other devices.
There’s a decent variety of colors available. Want it in rose gold? They got you. Want it in camo? Surprisingly, they got you.
Currently, it is selling for $110 on HSN.com, but once it launches on the Mophie site January 9, it shoots up a little bit to $160.
Otterbox doesn’t want you getting sick
I don’t even want to think about how disgusting my phone screen is, but Otterbox did, and they came to the conclusion that they should do something about it. So they launched their Amplify Glass Anti-Microbial screen protector. Their proprietary anti-microbial technology prevents all this nasty stuff from staying on your phone, which could eventually get on your hands and into your mouth.
As a bonus, it’s said to be about 5 times more scratch-resistant than your average glass screen protector.
Honorable mention because they’re just so cute
No huge, groundbreaking technology here, just something that made me smile. Kakao Friends, which are characters based on KakaoTalk emojis, has released a line of smart home appliances called Kakaofriends Homekit. The products themselves are pretty simple, a scale, lamp, humidifier and air purifier, but they were just too cute to not mention.
If you want to smile, check out the products here
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Hannah Michelle Lambert is the Social Media + Events Coordinator at Worthix, as well as the host of the monthly CX News Recap segment. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan.