The international Consumer Electronics Show is just winding down in Las Vegas and I wanted to share my picks for the most innovative, impressive, best-designed, or most future relevant of the gadgets that I saw. More than 20,000 products were scheduled to debut at the show this week. Not all of them will be making it into the future. Here are a few that might be around in 2030.
At least three companies showed up with robotic floor and vacuum cleaners to rival those of iRobot's Roomba. I also spotted two robotic air purifiers. The Moneual robot air (left) purifier had a vaguely RoboCop inspired look to it. The Ecovacs A330 Intelligent air-purifier (center) uses 45 different sensors to detect the source of bad air. It sets to work when a new toxic source is detected so it can purify the area around your cat's litter box as soon as the box starts to stink, even if you're not home to tell it do so. You never need to walk into a smelly house again, at least theoretically. Ecovacs is a Chinese company so it has an advantage in reaching out to the world's largest consumer market of the next ten years.
But my favorite bot on site was the TOSY SketRobo (right), which will take your picture and draw you a sketch of yourself (for release in September). I love this because it represents a real step forward in visual recognition capability for consumer robotics. Getting bots to make sense of what they see has long been one of the biggest challenges in the field and one of the main obstacles to more common use of robots. Most AI cars see with the aid of big SICK LMS-200 laser range finders. This robot's eyes (though still infrared sensors) are far smaller and the picture it draws isn't bad either, so nice actuator control.
As noted in my previous CES post 2012 is supposed to be the year of the interface. We're going to find ourselves interacting with computers in a lot of different ways in the next decade, well beyond thumb texting. The Micosoft Kinect, part of the Xbox 360 game system (released last year), uses three infrared sensors to measure movement, allowing users to operate the computer via gesture and voice.
The European group SoftKinetic had a similar device at CES that uses just one infrared sensor. Here's me playing the game; what I see is on the left and what the machine sees when it looks at me was on the right.
I was also impressed by the KIA display. KIA, of course, makes cars. I stepped into this extracted interior and was told that if I were falling asleep at the wheel the car would wake me up. So I closed my eyes, slumped over, shook, drooled, and affected the mien of someone with restless leg syndrome. "Not so much" the Kia rep told me, ( I assume he was referring to me bad acting.) So I closed my eyes for a few seconds like I was actually going to sleep, not performing in a silent film. Sure enough, a loud *ding* caught my attention. There are two small cameras in the console that watch you as you drive, and, it seems, they're rather sensitive. This was the first time I had ever interacted with a computer by falling asleep.
I have to say that the best interface I experienced in any of the live demos was for the Zomm Lifestyle Connect. As I mentioned previously, the Zomm is a light, Bluetooth enabled device that dialogues wirelessly and transfers data from (also enabled) heart monitors, glucose monitors, and other medical implants. It goes into action upon signal disruption and immediately calls a “personal safety concierge” who then contacts the wearer. In the event of a real emergency, the concierge can also call the wearer’s loved ones, doctors, etc. Why did this win out? Because the Zomm Life Connect is the first mass consumer product I've seen since the Cochlear implant that's truly geared for the cybernetic age.
For motorists who subscribe to an Italian aesthetic when it comes to cars, the Ford Evos is breathtaking. Of relevance to the futurist, the Evos is full of cutting-edge software and connects the driver to his or her "personal cloud." Like some sort of KIT made real, the car learns about your life, where you live and work, and then adjusts performance on an ongoing basis to better accommodate and serve thee. The Lithium-Ion battery has a 500 mile range when charged. The seat monitors your cardiac activity while you drive and the Evos watches the road and reads the position of other cars while in traffic, acting as it's own co-pilot. SmartPlanet blogger Andrew Nusca spelled out the specs in this blog post from the car's original debut in August.
Most Important For the Future
The Life Technologies Ion Proton™ Sequencer can read your genome (all three billion base pairs) in one day for $1000 according to Mel Davey software group leader for Ion East. Human genome sequencing isn't new but that time frame and price point is. "A genome sequence for $1,000 was a pipe-dream, just a few years ago," said Dr. Richard Gibbs, Director of the Human Genome Sequencing Center at the Baylor College of Medicine (in a press release on the Life Technologies Web site.) "A $1,000 genome in less than one day was not even on the radar, but will transform the clinical applications of sequencing."
The Ion Proton looks toward a very near future where a lot more people will be able to have the nuances of their genome revealed, which further portends a health boom for consumers. More importantly, the amount of available information on genetics and congenital illness is about to increase exponentially as more people get their genome read and thus contribute to the knowledge base on genetic disorders. That will further accelerate the development of new and perhaps genetically-specific cures. That's why this was my favorite invention at CES this year.
In the next two decades, most of us won't remember the gadgets and iPhone accessories that Samsung or Nokia tried to push on us in in 2012. But if the human race is living a lot longer and healthier, it may be because of the device in the picture above.
- About WFS
- Contact Us
- Frequently Asked Questions
- History of WFS
- Board and Council
- Press Room
- Futurist Gear
- Are You the Next CEO of the World Future Society?
- Book a WFS / Futurist Magazine Speaker
Free Email Newsletter
To sign up for Futurist Update, our free monthly email newsletter, enter your email in the box below and click Save.
I'm a regular blood donor. My blood type is "A," "Rh+." That can tell you a lot about your origins. But what I get excited about is the promise of finding a process by which we can end blood transfusions forever, mass producing all the blood we need rather than tapping the veins of donors every 56 days to keep an adequate blood supply in hospitals and clinics around the world.
Seawater is proving to be one way to combat climate change by reducing fossil fuel dependency for some ocean island nations. Taking a page from land-based geothermal power which uses the coolness below ground in heat exchange systems, islands are using the thermal energy gradient in a column of seawater to generate electricity.
Until Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson made the movie, most people hadn’t even heard the expression “Bucket List,” let alone knowing what it meant (things to do before I kick the bucket!).
A bucket list is one way to think about your future.
I recently watched an interesting documentary on the evolution of the British coffee shop market. I then had an idea for a new chain that is so sharp it would scratch your display if I wrote it here, so I’ll keep that secret. The documentary left me with another thought: what’s so special about authentic?
Unlike the United States which has chosen to rest on its Apollo Program laurels, Russia is reviving the Soviet dream to establish a permanent human presence on the Moon. The United States, however, has made it quite clear that it has no plans to return to the Moon unless it does it conjointly with other partners.
Last week, the IPCC gave us its weather forecast for climate change through the rest of the century. This weekend, the contributing scientists gave us what should be marching orders.
April 12, 2014 - There are two types of solar renewable technologies. The first, solar photovoltaics, is at best marginally efficient when converting energy from sunlight into electricity. And when the sun is not shining...well you get it. The second, solar thermal involves putting mirrors on motors to track sunlight.
There are two types of solar renewable technologies. The first, solar photovoltaics, is at best marginally efficient when converting energy from sunlight into electricity. The second, solar thermal involves putting mirrors on motors to track sunlight.