CES 2016: Press Day, Showstoppers and LaunchIt Event
Tuesday, January 5, was press day at CES 2016. Some of the largest press conferences are held on press day. Many of them are basically one- or two-hour advertisements with a number of new product announcements inserted, and some do provide a great deal of market data and trends.
The bigger “pressers,” such as the Samsung event, fill multiple auditorium-sized rooms as well as overflow rooms that pipe in the event to overflow crowds via live video. On the other hand, some are held in much smaller venues to perhaps a few dozen members of the press who have a specific interest in the technology being discussed.
The Samsung event must have drawn over 1,000 attendees. In fact, there were long lines just to get into the overflow rooms showing the event on live video stream. Of all the press events, Samsung’s seemed to get the most attention and the largest attendance.
Following are some of the key new product announcements made by Samsung.
- A New Smart Hub: The new Smart Hub is designed to provide users with easy access to all of their favorite content—including live TV and games—in one place. There’s even a menu on the home screen of the Samsung Smart TV that allows users to access their favorite programs as soon as they turn on the connected TV.
- The Samsung Smart Control remote: The new Samsung Smart TV eliminates the need to have to deal with multiple remote controls. Their new Smart TV will automatically recognize the type of game console, set-top box, or home theater system that is connected to the TV. This allows users to control all of the external devices with the Smart Control remote, with no setup required.
- Console-less Gaming: Consumers can enjoy the most realistic gaming experience on a large-screen without the need for a console. More than 500 streaming and downloadable games will be available on the 2016 Samsung Smart TVs.
- Smart View: The Samsung Smart View mobile app allows users to share their favorite content. The upgraded Smart View is now available beyond Samsung Galaxy devices, supporting Android and iOS devices, as well as Window PCs. Popular apps and websites including AccuWeather, Crackle, iHeartRadio, M-GO, Plex, Pluto.TV, UFC, Vimeo, YuppTV and more are all now Smart View enabled.
- More access to content: Streaming UHD movies and TV shows from providers such as Amazon, M-GO, and Netflix and accessing apps such as YouTube is now even easier. You will now be able enable a selection of sporting events to stream. UHD Consumers can also connect Samsung’s new Ultra HD Blu-Ray player via HDMI (2.0a) for access to UHD movies with HDR. Also direct access to live programming from providers such as Dish and Time Warner Cable is simplified.
Samsung says that the new SUHD TVs will begin rolling out this March.
That's a ShowStopper
This year, ShowStoppers partnered again with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) to help entrepreneurs and startups pitch new products to the press and raise early seed capital. This was the fourth edition of ShowStoppers LaunchIt, the official CES pitch event for startups that exhibit in the Eureka Park TechZone during the show.
I consider Launchit to be a fun event like “Shark Tank,” which highlights some amazing ideas and some devices that make you wonder, “Why would anyone want that?” Launchit also shows that there are a number of very smart, inventive and hardworking young people ready to lead in the next generation with some amazingly good ideas and a lot of hard work.
Let me tell you about some of the better new products that were pitched at the Launchit event on Tuesday.
They have developed a game-changing computer peripheral: VicoVR! The VicoVR is a revolutionary 3D sensor that brings Kinect-like gaming and full body avatar animation in Virtual Reality to Android and iOS ecosystems. As a new type of Bluetooth accessory, VicoVR puts your body inside Mobile VR with no PC, no wires, and absolutely no wearable sensors!
3DRudder has developed a feet-based VR motion controller that is designed to be used while seated—the 3DRudder VR Edition controller. In addition to VR and gaming, the controller can be used in a variety of others industries (controlling drones and machines remote control, CAD, healthcare, etc.). The VR Edition just won a CES 2016 Innovation Award. Hardware revenue is supplemented by steady software subscriptions.
Bartesian produces the world's first single-serve cocktail machine, which makes it simple for everyone to enjoy authentic cocktails in their home. Insert your capsule and Bartesian mixes your perfect drink. Bartesian recently launched on Kickstarter, joining the top 1% of all Kickstarter projects reaching over $100,000.
Bluemint Labs presents Bixi, the first ultra-portable contactless smart object that simplifies connected life using intuitive gesture recognition. This compact and robust companion allows users to interact with their connected environment when the hands are occupied (e.g. cooking, driving), covered with gloves (e.g. biking) or dirty (e.g. gardening, cleaning, etc).
Flic is the original Wireless Smart Button. Click Flic to control practically any connected service or device such as music, text messages or smart home. Our popular SDK allows any app to be controlled. Companies can put their brands in the center of attention by creating physical shortcut to their services. One official customer is Domino's Pizza’s one-click pizza service. Flic is "The best UI of all," according to WIRED. And SlashGear calls it "the perfect IoT control."
Flyte is a magnetically levitating wirelessly-powered (floating in mid-air) lightbulb that lasts 22 years at six hours per day.
HUDWAY offers smartphone-based heads-up display solutions suitable for any car. HUDWAY Glass is a simple car accessory that turns a smartphone into a heads-up display, and a safer alternative to instrument-panel displays and personal navigators. HUDWAY apps present navigation info in a simple and decluttered way to be used in HUD mode.
Proteus VR Labs Ltd
Freefly VR is a mobile virtual reality headset for most modern smartphones that tracks your 360° head movements and places you in a virtual world.
Pedal your way through exciting virtual reality games with VirZOOM. VirZOOM harnesses the emotional impact of virtual reality to create a fun exercise bike experience. The shocker is that our xbike-as-controller combined with the invention of specialized motion controls together solve VR locomotion discomfort. Be the horse in the race, the tank in battle, the surfer catching a wave, all powered by you.
CleverPet constructively and automatically interacts with pets when they would otherwise have nothing to do. A dog with a job is a happy dog, and their technology enriches pets' lives by having them play for their food. In the process, pet owners feel better about leaving their family members alone at home, and through the CleverPet platform pet owners develop a radically improved relationship to the animals they share their lives with. Per CleverPet, pet owners leave their dogs lonely and sad for tens of billions of hours each year, and feel so guilty about it they spend $40/day to bring their dogs to "doggy daycare." CleverPet can provide pets with the daily mental and physical stimulation they crave. This one was my favorite. CleverPet was the winner of the 2016 ShowStoppers Launchit event.
On Wednesday evening, ShowStoppers held a premiere press-only event highlighting many new products. There were some new drones, including one powered by fuel cells. One of the biggest limitations of drones is their limited flight time due to available battery power. Using fuel cells to power a drone can increase the flying time from under 20 minutes to well over an hour. Overall, drones seem to have improved significantly with longer range, more lift capability, easier control and more built in camera s and mounts. The key drone topic, however, is not the drones themselves but the trend to legislate their use. I’ll have more on drones, their use, and what legislative limits are expected in an upcoming column as we interview some of the key manufacturers and suppliers.
In other news, the good old computer has recently had a makeover. I just acquired an amazing Microsoft SurfaceBook, which deserves its own column. However, Hewlett Packard was showing a number of new computers and demonstrating that the good ol PC is indeed lighter, thinner, and more powerful, with a higher-res screen and SSD storage. Lenovo was also showing a number of very new-looking PCs. As far as peripherals go, you would not think that the pedestrian keyboard would get any attention, but have you used one with the new mechanical keys such as those supplied by Cherry? Cherry keys are used in a number of high-end keyboards and they now offer one under their own brand name. If you have not tried one, do so; you will be delighted with the accuracy, feel and speed of a precision unit using the legendary Cherry Red keys.
Before the show is over, we plan on getting an update on using 3D printing to produce PCBs, but it’s safe to say that 3D printing is no longer used to just make toy figures. In the last year, the number of units and practical uses for them has grown significantly. One very impressive product allows users to 3D print a fully functioning prosthetic hand. ROBO 3D was demonstrating their printer by making these hands and then donating them to those in need. It’s a very impressive printer kit (there are others also) and it’s helping to fill a real need.
I also checked out some other unique products, such as a levitating light bulb that floats in mid-air and wirelessly light the room, and a robotic, wireless connected litter box (or should I say bot?) for cats. Expanding on the GoPro craze, there are a number of GoPro knock-offs and also some very interesting video-enabled glasses. Are they just looking in your direction or are they recording you?
Tomorrow I will cover some of the more interesting offerings on the show floor. In the meantime, enjoy a few images of some of the new very high-tech automotive offerings along with a picture of Barry Matties and his new (in his dreams) car.
CES: Day One
CES 2016: A Preview and a Prediction for the Future