So long Las Vegas, I’m skipping town now. Two days at the Convention Center were enough.
In then end, I managed to find time to walk the entire show floor at the LVCC and the Hilton, although I never made it to the Venetian. Despite my rant on Day One, it turned out to be reasonably interesting. There were some new things on the floor, and a couple things stood out. This year that theme definitely seems to be wearables and Internet of Things. I am going to hazard a guess that next year or maybe in two years, the theme will be robots and drones.
It is easy to make a two-year prediction, few people (zero) will remember it. So take that for what its worth. Nonetheless, there definitely seem to be a growing number of ‘autonomous’ machines at the show. Parrot, the people who make those interesting drone-like quad copters, now have a huge booth at the show. Several Japanese companies have been demo-ing robots for a few years. The iRobot people have expanded their offerings beyond Roomba. And there are several other new vendors at the show this year. Sphero was demo’ing their racing spherical robot and I noticed several portable video conferencing systems attached to transport systems. There is clearly a lot going on in that space.
Some of this is being driven by the increasing sophistication of ‘machine learning’ resources. I read somewhere recently that Stanford’s online course on the subject is one of the most-viewed classes on Coursera, and the blogosphere is talking about it a lot more.
For me the most interesting aspect of this is how rapidly we are seeing innovation down new avenues. When I think of a robot, it is the typically humanoid form seen in every science fiction movie for the last 60 years. But today’s robots look very different, they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and perform some unexpected tasks. So maybe, in a year or two, when robots appear in force at CES, it will be the year in which the show’s theme really does come true.