CURRENT AT CES

Who says 'what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas?' Rubbish! 

We can't stop talking about what we saw at CES2015. Between catch-ups and project meetings with our awesome clients, we had a chance to check out some of the cool new innovations that we know we'll be working on within the next couple of years.

Here are a few that stood out...some good, some bad!

Ozobots (http://www.ozobot.com/)
These guys are teachable robots that respond to colour patterns. They have a colour-based language platform meaning they respond specifically to the colour you present to them.  
Observation > Kinda cool but kinda gimmicky. Fun toy perhaps.

Lowe's Innovation Lab
Lowe's are throwing a bunch of weight into this lab to pioneer new ways to buy at retail. 

Lowe's Service Robot
A robot to help you navigate store and locate products instead of searching for staff. It'll actually walk you there as it has a collision avoidance mechanism. It's voice activated and understands 5 languages. Keeps track of inventory and does a daily overnight track of store to understand product shifts in-store. Has a 3D scanner to connect you to information about products.

Lowe's Holoroom
This is currently piloted in 2 stores in Canada only. It's an in-store room with high contrast designs that users scan with iPad to visualize the layout of a planned home reno (eg. bathroom). The neat thing we saw was a transition to the Oculus. They had two DK2 headsets and said their next step is to provide these in-store to help users see how their reno would look in 3D.

EyeTribe (https://theeyetribe.com/)
Danish company who have developed their own eye-tracking camera and SDK (in progress) to control interfaces with your eyes. For example, scan and select movies on Netflix just by looking at a TV (with their camera below). Their differentiator is camera's low price point. In terms of hook up to OS's, their main focus has been on tablet/desktop but they have a mobile SDK available. 

Observation > Camera tracking wasn't solid but SDK will be worth checking out to develop for low-budget consumer market.

Ring (http://logbar.jp/ring/en/)
A smart ring allowing you to control any interface like your cell/TV or any motorized mechanism like a curtain rod with your finger motion. It works via infrared. With an iPod I could define specific custom instructions like drawing a circle with my finger to launch the camera feed and tapping the infrared sensor on the side of the ring to take a photo with my cell. 

Observation > One ring to fool them all. Cool concept but clunky to think someone will wear a specific ring for this. Could be a huge breakthrough if they can integrate with actual fashion/jewelry rings.

ooVoo (http://www.oovoo.com)
This product got a lot of buzz with an eye-catching display of characters who responded to facial expressions and head movement. The display may have been the coolest part about it but wasn't really their focus. It reminded me of an old school train-station departures board with tiny disks flipping for the interface instead of LED bulbs. The character smiles and head turns to mirror my motion in front of the camera (it was a PrimeSense camera in case you're wondering, not Kinect/Real Sense). Oovoo are an Israeli video messaging/chat system comparable to Skype with a claimed 20million users but their differentiator is giving users a means to control avatars with their facial expressions. Imagine sending an emoticon of a smiley face just by smiling at your camera.

Observation > They claim they're better than Skype. I was mostly interested in their face tracking capabilities. I'd also like to explore what the Prime Sense camera allows us to do as a different option to Real Sense and Kinect.

Conclusion
Another big theme of CES2015 Innovation was the push for a standard in-house platform for electronics to communicate (eg. All-Joyn). This field is becoming bogged down by multiple players jostling to become the new "BlueTooth". Soon enough someone will land at the top of the pile but I use it as example of the need for all of these innovative products to find a common ground. Products like Ring have some great ideas but they aren't practical until I can use the tech with an every-day product eg. my wedding ring. I am not going to wear a special ring just to control the curtains, but if I can do it with a ring I already wear, well then I can see value. Otherwise the gimmicky products will remain just that.