Another day at CES 2020 and another day full of crazy-awesome releases. While the frequency of releases has somewhat dwindled, there was still enough excitement on the exhibition floor to charge your Vision-S (Didn’t get the joke? Don’t worry, you will) on the second day. A lot of new gadgets and technologies were released today, some of which left us excited and craving to own them at this very moment, and some of them left us confused, rattled, and at times, even creeped-out, as it has become a tradition at CES.
So let’s jump right into it!
Our Top Three Picks
2. Sony Vision-S
On day two, nothing created as much chatter and confusion as Neon did. In the days leading up to CES, it seemed like all anyone could talk about was a project called Neon- the only offering of a relatively unheard of startup STAR Labs which was backed by Samsung. Apart from that, not much was known about Neon. Even on their Twitter page, they just call it Artificial Human. That’s not too much go on. And so the speculations flew and people wondered if Neon was an AI chatbot or a full blown droid. As it turns out, it’s neither. It’s not even a product yet. What Neon is, is just a fraction of a product in its initial stage which is in no way ready, not even for a demo. But what is Neon? In the words of industry veteran Pranav Mistry and CEO of STAR Labs, Neons are hyper realistic computer generated avatars that can interact with humans through a screen in real time. Now before you think that there is anything assistant like about Neons like Alexa or Siri or that they exist to make your life easier, let us tell you that there isn’t and they don’t. The idea behind Neons is to mimic human behaviour. To make humans, using a computer and that means giving these Neons a personality of their own, make them prone to tardiness, give them emotions, freewill and even the capacity to die (at least that’s what we were told). So rather than being concerned about Neons being accurate and fast, there is really only one thing on the minds of its makers, making them human. Currently, every Neon is created with the help of video recording of a real human which is then fed into a machine learning model. Based on this data, these avatars respond to our queries, smile and frown, cheer and cry, and just like in the case of humans, they don’t do it exactly the same way twice.Interesting. But still, there is a lot that doesn’t work for Neon at the moment. While ambitious and interesting, it could be a long time before we actually see Neon in a market ready stage. The prime challenges are of course latency and the amount of processing power it will demand. Furthermore, if Neons will ever be able to be mobile and will we ever be able to take these Neons with us? No one has any answers to these questions, not even the makers. So as it turns out, Neon was after all, yet another overhyped release at CES.
2. Sony Vision- S
We see a ton of things at CES that never make it to the market. Still, that doesn’t mean that we cannot appreciate them. Such is the case with Sony’s concept electric car Vision-S. Yes, your eyes are not playing tricks on you, we wrote that Sony has made an electric car and as you might expect from Sony, they did a pretty awesome job. While the car is loaded with ideas and features that Sony thinks should go into a car of the modern day, the central piece of the puzzle is the entertainment system. Right on the dashboard there are rectangular screens, from one end of the car to another. From here, the driver or the person on the passenger’s seat can control the car’s media and other aspects like temperature from the middle two screens that are touch screen displays. Apart from that there are touchscreens for the people in the back too and the speaker quality in the car is top notch as well. Vision-S is loaded with sensors from hood to tail. Sony’s camera sensors can really add another layer of sophistication to more advanced needs of a modern day car like self driving and driver assistance. There are about ten camera sensors in Vision-S on top of many others like radar, ultrasonics, etc. Apart from all this, the car jumps from 0-60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds and tops at 149 miles per hour. It is pretty impressive, especially if you keep in mind that it is an electric car after all with a 200kW motor on both axles. What is really commendable about Vision-S is that it is not just a concept vehicle, it is, upto a good extent, a prototype. This means that Sony didn’t just phone it in. They didn’t just talk about their future expectations with Vision-S and they didn’t just put a chunk of plastic barely held together at the show, they made a real car with features and gave people a demo of what it would be like to drive in them. They showed us what the vision behind Vision-S was, which is a rare occurrence at CES. Unfortunately, it is not likely that you will ever be able to own one of these babies. Sony has no plans to mass produce Vision-S, not any time soon at least.
If you think we have seen everything the streaming industry has to offer in terms of technology, then Quibi will ask you to think again. Spearheaded by former Walt Disney boss and creator of Dreamworks, Katzenberg and former HP and eBay CEO Meg Whitman, Quibi is a new streaming service which promises to give you something no other streaming service can- the ability to have two different point of views for the same video content, one for portrait and one for landscape mode of your mobile phones. While Netflix, Disney +, HBO Max and all are going for the T.V., Quibi claims to be targeting mobile phones and seems committed to creating quality content which their users can watch in two different perspectives without the loss of quality. All the videos on Quibi will be created to be watched under ten minutes and are called Quick Bits- hence the name Quibi. While all of this is very new and confusing because at the end of the the day, the only thing new Quibi is offering is the ability to watch a short video in both landscape and portrait modes which is something most social media sites are already doing. But Katzenberg says that these social media platforms have no idea how to make quality content and how to use this technology to the fullest. While you can disagree with the quality of content bit of his remark if you like, it is hard to argue with the fact that video quality is certainly affected when the mode is changed. And that is where Quibi is putting all its money on. But how does it work? Well, each bit of content is shot twice, one for the portrait mode and one for landscape mode. And then they are edited according to their respective modes and sound production is different for both videos as well. Now when you are streaming that video, two videos are being streamed to your device, one in portrait mode and one in landscape mode parallely. So when you switch the mode, the active one goes dormant, that is it is pushed to the back and the other mode takes the front seat. Quibi comes out on 7 April 2020, and Katzenberg has been busy, creating a long army of A-list actors, directors and producers to make shows for Quibi, most notable among them being, Chrissy Tiegen, Steven Spielberg, and Antonie Fuqua.
Some other Noteworthy Releases
1. A Horde of Noise Cancelling Completely Wireless Earbuds
Almost every major headphone manufacturer at this year’s CES has a pair of wireless earbuds to show. More specifically, they had earbuds with active noise cancellation technology to show. Ever since Apple released its AirPod Pro with the same technology, it has become something of an industry standard to have it in an earbud. From Audio Tehnicia to Nuheara, many companies had a set of earbuds to release this year. While this can be considered to be in response to AirPod Pro’s release, we must not forget that Sony released their noise cancelling wireless headphones back in 2017.
Smart homes are the homes of the future, where you say something and it gets done. But what if you cannot say what you want to in a standard way which your smart home’s AI can understand. Countless people across the globe suffer from speech related problems, caused by diseases such as Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy, even stroke. And to cater to their needs, Israeli startup Voiceitt has released nonstandard speech recognition program to voice activated tools. Obviously it doesn’t understand everything a person with a speech problem says. And that is why the system has to learn. While Voiceitt has a massive nonstandard speech database, users will be asked to train the system according to them so that it can understand what they are saying and tailor a response accordingly.
3. Segway’s S-Pod
And now, we are getting to our favourite part of our CES oriented blogs, the part where we talk about the zaniest most nutty releases of the entire day. And the first among them is Segway’s S-Pod. What is Segway you ask? Segway is the manufacturer of two-wheeled rides. From its e-scooter line Kickscooter to Loomo, its personal robot ride and Segway Professional Transporter, its personal outdoor vehicle, Segway makes rides that you’d never buy, ride or be even seen standing next to out of sheer fear of being ridiculed to death. So basically, they make crazy looking rides, and at CES 2020, they are keeping their tradition alive with their new S-Pod.What is S-Pod you ask? Imagine an egg on two wheels and a cushioned seat which looks like something Darth Vader would go for if he had no legs! Or maybe even he won’t! So to surmise, it looks stupid, and being anywhere near it makes you feel stupid and if you buy one of them, well, it would be a stupid purchase. But if you can look past the way it looks, you’ll realize that S-Pod is in fact very comfy and easy to control- with the help of a joystick. And yes, just like every other Segway product, it is two wheeled and has self-balancing technology and for a bulky metal egg it is very stable and flexible. We might even go as far as calling it fun!
4. Robosen T9
Transformers and Transformer toys have been a part of all our childhoods (and if they weren’t a part of yours, then what were you even doing?). Who among us didn’t lose their marbles everytime Optimus Prime turned into a hulking axe-swinging robot psychopath from a truck with a red-flame paint job? We bought countless toys and wished that they transformed on their own, that they did something on their own at least. And well, now they can. This year at CES, the world met Robosen T9, an unofficial Transformers toy which can turn into a robot from a car and vice versa, as soon as you say ‘Transform’. Isn’t that the coolest thing ever! But wait, there’s more. It can also pose, do push ups, drive and dance. And you can create your own gestures with the help of a smartphone app and control this robot with a touchscreen joystick as well.
5. Revolutionary Smart Toilet-Tech
And lastly, the releases that will make you ask the question which we ask at every other display at CES- Why though? This time, there are a lot of them here. But again, just like yesterday, the weirdest showcases were the ones featuring smart devices for man’s private moments. This year there is a heavy presence of smart bathroom devices. While some startups are trying to revolutionize the way we relieve ourselves for some unknown reason, some of them are just trying to be funny and prove a point. The exchange is, like always, data for service. As these companies gather up data about our bathroom habits, they tell us how much plaque there is in our teeth or how much stench we have managed to produce in one sitting (Please don’t make us explain this joke!). Oral-B and Colgate are on the show floor as well. Colgate released its new Plaqueless Pro toothbrush which starts to shine blue everytime it is near a plaque deposit in your mouth. Apart from that, Charmin released a Rollbot which can deliver your toilet paper in case you are on the can and find yourself in a… difficult situation using your smartphone.