CES: Sands Show Floor and ShowStoppers
CES is the world’s gathering place for any company significantly involved in the consumer industry. CES is owned and operated by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). It has served as the key display and introduction event and proving ground for innovators, breakthrough technologies, as well as various “me-too” devices for many years. No matter how many other global shows there are, CES is the key stage where next-generation and improved present generation, as well as off the cuff, ideas are introduced to the marketplace. This includes top companies from leading global technology countries to those that are just entering the technology industry.
As the largest event of its kind, CES features all aspects of the industry and attracts the world’s business leaders and pioneering thinkers. Every aspect of technology is covered, from the latest computer processors and the most advanced virtual reality devices to quantum computing using the latest AI, handheld tablets and toys, robots, drones, and the latest entertainment devices, such as 8K wall-size TVs. In addition, if you want a new smartphone case or screen cleaner, there are many new ideas. If you name it, it is somewhere at CES, including automotive, medical, and military.
No matter how much time you dedicate to attending CES presentations and viewing additional focused exhibits, it is impossible to see it all. In fact, I would say that it is not even possible to visit all of the various exhibit halls and locations. Therefore, no matter how many articles like this one you read, there will be many things that you will not hear about or see. For those of us who cover CES, all we can do is our best while spending the better part of a week trying to see, learn about, and describe the things that interest us the most. Also, locals in Las Vegas have now committed to adding 600,000 square feet to the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) within the next two years, so expect the expansion to continue.
Sands Show Floor
This year, I decided to hit the Sands show floor on Day One in the hope that by Day Two, the LVCC halls might not be as crowded as on the first day. On Tuesday, the show floors opened. The day started with the usual hundreds of emails sent to the registered press, saying, “Come and see us,” but one notice was of particular interest to me.
My “golf” or hobby is building computers, so the invitation to visit the private Corsair press exhibit area got my attention.
Corsair is one of the leading suppliers of high-end, innovative computer components. In fact, over half the key components for my latest build are from Corsair. Corsair recently announced the acquisition of Origin—a leading supplier of high-end, custom computers—the exhibit was even more of an attraction.
For the last few years, RGB lighting has added lots of bling to custom electronics, but Corsair has added significant value. For example, their iCue software—used in conjunction with their RGB-enabled fans, memory, liquid cooling, and other components—can be programmed to provide information that is important to a custom builder who is overclocking and pushing their build to get the maximum performance. If you see a component using their system, the lights that you thought were just bling start to change color, from relaxing blue to yellow and then red (or whatever color or pattern you desire), warning you that the specific component is being stressed. You can even set the color of the keys on your keyboard to mimic the signals showing the operation from normal to stressed.
After spending about an hour talking to the Corsair folks, it was time to move on to the Sands Convention Center. The Sands is the second-largest CES location, covering multiple floors over three buildings. Most of that space is used for exhibits, but there were also many presentations and conferences too. One of the key attractions at the Sands is Eureka Park. Per CES, “CES Eureka Park is the global stage for startups where new ideas are funded, new partnerships are formed, and new acquisitions happen. More than 1,200 startups used CES 2019 as a platform to showcase their products and have been funded at more than $1.5 billion since 2012.”
A good example is the LaunchIt presentations that we described in my last article. (By the way, the LaunchIt winner was Caregiver Smart Solutions—the company that introduced a system that helps monitor loved ones using small, unobtrusive monitors in their home.) Some of the interesting exhibits on display—looking for customers, distributors, and investment capital—included, but were certainly not limited to, an electronic instrument that can change its stripes by simply changing out the front panel; it can go from a guitar to a keyboard in seconds.
There was the nanophotonic crystal display that, when turned off, is just a window, but when turned on, is a full-featured but still transparent glass display.
Another device that was also shown at LaunchIt was the Intelashelf. This charging shelf can be installed just about anywhere, and up to three devices in need of a battery charge can be placed on it.
Today, some higher-end automobiles come equipped with heads-up displays, but now, anyone can add that capability to their vehicle or get a helmet with it incorporated from Zyfra.
Other technologies included a flying car from Aska, robotic pets, self-cleaning and emptying robotic vacuum cleaners, and so much more.
Not all the products and ideas shown in Eureka Park will make it; some are available now, but some are promised later this year, and we probably will not hear of some of them again. Eureka Park is a smorgasbord of much of the more promising upcoming devices, which is great fun to see. I assure you that if you want to see all that is offered there, you could spend half a day exploring that one sector.
Another area at the Sands was a series of exhibits grouped together by country. While I did not have enough time remaining to visit them all, I did get a chance to see two very impressive pavilions: France and Israel.
To me, it felt like the French were more focused on innovative smart home and IoT devices, and Israel’s focus was more on advanced technology and some devices that will make good use of it. Don’t get me wrong; there were other country pavilions showing innovative and useful devices, with some at CES for the first time this year. This seems to be a growing area, and I believe we will see more countries taking part in the years to come.
I spent the full day at the Sands, and I estimate I saw less than half of what was available. For example, one of the more interesting areas—and one that I did not have a chance to do more than browse quickly—was the innovation awards area. These devices were judged to be the top in their class, and for good reasons.
By now, it was getting to be late afternoon, so it was time for a short break; then, I headed to view the exhibits at ShowStoppers. While some of the devices at ShowStoppers are also on the show floor, this event is for press only, which enables us to speak directly with senior management and the inventors and designers of many interesting devices. Some of the things we first saw and reported about some years ago were first seen at events like this. The following shows a sampling of highlights of the interesting products on display as ShowStoppers, along with notes from their associated press releases. Some seem very useful, and others, well, I’ll let you decide.
A global leader in digital security products, Avast announced the initial release of its new network-based consumer security product, Avast Omni, to Avast customers in the United States. Avast Omni provides protection and insights for all connected devices in the home and on the go through a combined hardware-software solution that easily connects to the existing home router without impacting WiFi performance. As security for wireless devices is becoming a significant concern, and if this proves to be true, and WiFi performance is not impacted, there would be considerable value. Avast was named as a CES 2020 Innovation Awards Honoree for this product.
BRNKL by Barnacle Systems is a security and status system for boat owners who need to be able to check in on their vessel remotely from their smartphone, tablet, or computer. Users can see inside of their vessel using an onboard camera while also monitoring critical alerts such as anchor drag, low batteries, loss of shore power, and high water. Unlike standard marine electronics that provide monitoring while on board, Barnacle Systems provides a global cellular service for remote monitoring. Whether you’re at the dock, at home, or halfway around the world, your boat is at your fingertips.
Caregiver Smart Solutions
Caregiver Smart Solutions was named leading startup at ShowStoppers as well as voted the winner of the 2020 ShowStoppers LaunchIt competition at CES. This company provides people with unmatched insight on their loved ones as they age in place. For more details, click here.
Roxie is the first car entertainment that makes road trips and commutes fun again and transforms your car into a hands-free karaoke studio. Everyone, including the driver and passengers, can sing their favorite tunes and the latest hits.
Celestron announced a revolutionary new telescope you can control with your smartphone, designed to reinvent the way people of all technical expertise levels and stargazing experience explore the universe.
The StarSense Explorer is the world’s first consumer telescope to affordably offer sophisticated sky recognition technology used by professional observatories, using existing smartphone camera hardware, to quickly determine telescope positioning, facilitate sky mapping, and seamlessly guide users to thousands of celestial objects.
Artie 3000 from Educational Insights is a code-to-draw robot that puts kids in control from beginner to pro. Kids can learn amazing coding languages, ranging from easy-to-use drag and drop to advanced line-by-line writing using Macs, PCs, phones, or tablets. As kids tell Artie 3000 what to draw next, they learn left-brain skills like basic programming, geometry, and math.
Stern Pinball Inc.
Stern Pinball Inc. is a global lifestyle brand based on the iconic and outrageously fun modern American game of pinball.
“CES is one of our favorite events and the perfect place to showcase our newest hit game, ‘Stranger Things,’ and our affordable home pinball machine, the Star Wars Pin,” said Gary Stern, chairman and CEO of Stern Pinball Inc. “Tech and pinball fans alike will get the chance to play all things pinball at the Stern booth.”
Of course, there were many more companies and products out there, but you get the idea. Every year, ShowStoppers and a similar event, Pepcom, demonstrate many new devices and technologies. Again, some will become devices we can’t live without, and some you will never hear about again. Seeing all of these new ideas is one of the highlights of attending CES.
Stay tuned for the next article as I explore the main show floors at the LVCC and see the latest and greatest from TVs to drones, computers, and autonomous and flying automotive products.
Show floor photo credit: Dan and Racheal Feinberg