This year’s 2015 Consumer Electronic Show was enormous – in fact, the largest show floor in history – with over 3,600 exhibitors and 2.2 million square feet of exhibitions on display with every sort of technology available vying for the attention of swarms of attendees pouring through the convention center halls. The experience can be a bit overwhelming, with a strong sense of déjà vu while walking halls of companies peddling similarly spec’d or “me too” designs… a lot of filler, not so much killer. But there were a few standouts which caught our eye, whether because of smart industrial design, ingenious technology, or the potential for becoming the next big thing.
Kinematics Dress by Nervous System
If there was any doubt about 3D printing’s influence in fashion’s future, one just needed to stop by the Autodesk booth and admire the intricacy of the Kinematics Dress by Nervous System. Constructed from 2,279 individual triangular panels interconnected by 3,316 hinges of nylon, the dress moves and flows like a suit of chainmail armor liberated from gravity, 3D-printed in a Selective Laser Sintering over a span of approximately 48 hours. The design and technology was notable enough that the Museum of Modern Art has recently added it to its permanent collection.
Samsung Flex Duo Dual Door Oven
The engineers at Samsung solved a common problem faced by anyone cooking a meal requiring two dishes be prepared at once, but at different times/temperature. The solution: a hinged door with a horizontal slide-in divider gives home cooks the option to divide and conquer, or cook only using the top compartment (saving 30% energy use in the process when compared to using the whole oven). It’s like closing the door and using a space heater instead of wasting energy heat the whole house. Smart.
Additionally, the lines between technology and kitchen further blur with the announcement customers of the Samsung Chef Collection will receive an special Chef Collection tablet, with pre-installed app content from partners like BigOven, Bon Appétit, Chefs Feed, Saveur, the Culinary Institute of America, and Samsung’s own stable of world renowned chefs of Club des Chefs.
Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H8 Headphones
Bang & Olufsen had a few major announcements at this year’s show, including the beautifully wood-adorned and tactile targeted Bang & Olufsen BeoSound Moment wireless music system. But our eyes, fingertips, and ears all gravitated toward the luxurious leather, lambskin, and anodized aluminum paired with noise cancelation and Bluetooth wireless technology gracing these set of premium headphones.
Hands down the most fun technology on demo at this year’s CES was a digital device aimed at guilty pet owners hoping to send a little love from afar. A combination of webcam and app-controllable laser beam, we got to amuse ourselves alongside a small room of rescued cats hundreds of miles away using the iOS and Android compatible 4″x4″x4″ cube ‘o lasers, swiping and tapping on a mobile phone, directing the red laser across here and there until both the roomful of felines and our fingers tired. Read more about it on Dog Milk.
It would have been easy to pass over this small geometric-shaped bracelet, as the June was displayed without much fanfare on a small pedestal at the Netatmo booth in the bustling Sands Expo Exhibit hall amongst the throngs of other wearables on display, designed to monitor every bit of conscious and unconscious of activity. Yet it was the June’s sophisticated and understated design which pulled us in to investigate the UV level monitoring device, beautifully disguised as jewelry cut to resemble a diamond, designed to be worn with a thin leather bracelet.
Alongside the Withings Activité on display just a booth over, there was a small but notable trend of these wearable devices which jettisoned the power-hungry and usually design disagreeable displays, handing off the data/info to a compatible connected smartphone app.
We were hurriedly scooting along to a scheduled meeting when we came upon this Panasonic Lithium Ion 18650 battery-powered smartscooter (the same as inside the Tesla S, also on display at the Panasonic booth), and had to stop to inquire about the electric vehicle. Displayed in front of an array of bright green topped batteries designed to be easily swapped in and out of the scooter as needed, the innovation beyond the emissions-free ride itself (outfitted with 30 onboard sensors and Bluetooth connectivity) was the subscription-based model by which the Gogoro is planned to be sold.
Gogoro representatives described their sales model following the subsidized system similar to smartphone sales, but instead of data/voice minutes, Gogoro scooter customers would be purchasing miles connected with battery swap accessibility (Gogoro was founded by a few ex-HTC executives, explaining the subsidized system model). We probably won’t be seeing these scooters any time soon here in the United States, but the Gogogo team think they’ve got an opportunity to reshape personal transportation in population dense, traffic-laden metropolises like Paris, Hong Kong, and other cities where scooters are popular and cleaner air is desired.
New Matter 3D Printer
As noted above, 3D printing continued to be a big presence at CES this year. What used to be a small corner of the shows is now a dedicated and popular section of CES where multitudes of 3D printer manufacturers display increasingly more affordable and capable 3D printers. The New Matter MOD-t 3D Printer was an Indiegogo funded project, holding the title of highest funded design ever at the crowdfunded site; the $400 3D printer is equipped with wi-fi connectivity to an online marketplace, spelling out an impending future when additive material printers will “ship” our online purchases directly as an end-to-end purchase rather than an exchange relying upon geographic shipping.
Audeze EL-8 Planar Magnetic Headphone
Yes, another headphone made our pick. But the Audeze EL-8 deserves mention for a few reasons: 1. the CES demo units were connected to the much ballyhooed Neil Young developed, high quality music file PonoPlayer (an awkward piece of hardware with great playback), 2. the “wow” reaction upon donning these sizable cans and hearing the vivid and fully-fleshed soundstage developed using Audeze’s planar magnetic technology, 3. the design by BMW Group Designworks, which offsets the heft and size of the EL-8’s with a handsome veneer of wood and understated style, and 4. the on-ear comfort, thanks to the extremely plush ear cups. Now for the bad news, except for audiophiles already numb to sticker shock: you’ll have to save up $700 for these premium equipped models.
Whirlpool Interactive Kitchen of the Future 2.0
We spent a fair amount of time wowed by the Bentley of refrigerators Whirlpool had on display, a Double Drawer French Door unit with a dizzying amount of storage options and smart under-shelf LED strip lighting. But in regards to the direction where technology and design will eventually intersect within our homes, it was the appliance maker’s vision of connected cooktop and projection displays which gave the most insight about how large appliance manufacturers are conceptualizing the kitchens of the future. Instead of making surfaces displays themselves, Whirlpool’s updated iteration used a motion/gesture/touch projection display backsplash and cooktop, the whole demoed system revolving around an digital ecosystem connected to smart kitchen appliances, the internet (e.g. cooking sites), and the user’s social networks (imagining calling up a video call to ask, “Mom, show me how you make that spaghetti recipe, please!”).
Toshiba Virtual Fitting Room
3D printers promise to bring products and fashion directly into our homes, and it might be motion detecting high resolution cameras which may let us try-on outfits virtually before pressing “buy” if this Toshiba augmented reality mirror wowed CES attendees with. The technology is still a little rough around the edges, as shown here in this video clip of the dressing room in action, but rest assured with some fine tuning and additional development, it won’t be too long before a Kinect-like device (or a future update to the Kinect itself) brings try-before-you-buy virtual sizing into every home.