I spent a couple of days at CES 2017 last week. Two days is tight for CES and I missed a few things that were in my to-visit list but it was still totally worth the trip. A selection of my photos are in Flickr, but here are some highlights:
Most Guts – Prosthesis
This is an exoskeleton designed for racing. It has four mechanical limbs controlled by the racer within, in mostly prone position, one per leg and arm (I uploaded a video of the movement). The project is now part of Furrion Robotics; the vision of the designer (Jonathan Tippet) is a racing league. The current version was completed just before CES 2017 and still does not have the actuators on it but here is a 1/3 scale version of the left arm actuator:
It’s very impressive and feels properly nutty… in photos and even more in real life. I created an album just for it.
Geekiest Demo – Qualcomm Drive Data Platform
Qualcomm had a very impressive demo of their Drive Data Platform. They use a Snapdragon 820Am with a camera, a fast (Cat 12) modem, and a neural network app using the Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine. Here is the (simple) camera setup:
DDP uses the camera and SNPE to recognize the objects around the car in real-time, especially buildings and the such that bounce the GPS signals and limit the accuracy of the GPS. Then DPP can filter out all but the direct signals from the satellite and it can determine the location of the car very accurately and quickly. Here is a screenshot showing all the buildings that are being detected in real-time by DPP.
The (very accurate) location can then be used, again with computer vision, to determine the location of other elements in the field of vision of the camera, like the lanes in the freeway. This information can be shared with the map system. And can be crowdsourced!
Repeat all this, and you can get very accurate maps very quickly. I asked how large a sample they would need to do this and the presenter indicated that a large manufacturer would be able to do this by itself. Think about the implications for the mapping ecosystem!
Here is the Qualcomm Blog Post on the DDP. I’m sorry I didn’t take a video of the whole demo, but it was very impressive. I think Qualcomm is doing a bunch of things right.
AI at CES
The main reason I went to CES this year was to check out all the work on AI / ML / Neural Networks. I believe that in a couple of years we all will be using these things routinely in our apps. Some of it will be at-the-edge, some will be on the cloud. The DDP is an example of this. The Snapdragon Neural Platform Engine (SNPE) was being demoed by itself elsewhere in the Qualcomm booth and it was very impressive. Its designed so it can leverage the CPU, the GPU and the DSP on the Snapdragon, very neat and fast. Very interesting times ahead.
Coolest Area – Eureka Park
The first floor of the SandsExpo contains the Eureka Park. I think this year, CES did a great job with it. It had areas for different types of startups: early-stage, mid-stage, University-backed, different non-US locations, Indiegogo, etc. It was very busy, with some very interesting ideas and some not-so, chaotic and fun. Quite different to the more organized floors elsewhere at CES. Here is the map:
The area had a bunch of things. Something that caught my attention was the BioMindR – they leverage wireless signals and machine learning to continuously sensor hydration, glucose and fluid levels without contacts. It reminded me, at a very different level, of the work at MIT that is behind Emerald.
There were many other interesting booths. I particularly enjoyed talking with the Sensel folks but there were many more. The Beon camera was also fun – I’m not convinced as a wearable in the wrist, but there should be a good fit for it somewhere.
I’ll leave you with some more pictures:
Can you figure out how does this work? Click on the image to see the video clip. The hint is: the demo was in the Nidec booth, they specialize on motors, bearings, robotic transporters, etc, etc. Their motors are in theAutel Robotics Drones (very nice, they announced a deal with FLIR on dual thermal/visual cameras), and in many others.
And, from the very large and visited Xiaomi Mi booth, to show that they are serious, Mr. Hugo Barra:
Xiaomi was testing the waters on them coming to the US. The prices were amazing. I would not buy one of their phones but they had plenty of other things I’d consider purchasing, especially this electric foldable bicycle – listed at the booth for $430!
Ah, and the LG 4K OLED monitors were excellent. I’m not a monitor guy but they were very very impressive!
Bluetooth 5.0 is beginning to show up and so is Thread. Nordic’s nRF52840 is “ready” for both standards. Its hard for me to predict the traction for Thread, but I expect we will see Bluetooth 5.0 everywhere soon.
Worth The Trip
Totally worth the trip to Las Vegas. As in previous trips, the best thing are always the conversations with the booth guys. Special thanks to the people from Qualcomm, Intel, Pikazo, Nordic, Beon, Nidec, Shenzhen Minew, Prosthesis, AppMyHome, Sensel, Orangie, RetailNext, Autel, ChargePoint and many more.
And check the Flickr album if you want to see more picts and additional commentaries.