The CES hordes split up into three groups this year. Thinking of CES as just one big trade show is a thing of the past. Nowadays, it’s a distributed band of folks who share an interest in creativity, technology, brand marketing, influencers and the consumer roaming from venue to venue up and down the Las Vegas Strip. One of my first stops this year was a new locale—The Aria. After getting my CES badge scanned, I glanced at the participants posted in the hall. The corporate roster of WPP was reflected back to me. It seems like the ad and marketing folk have decided to set up shop in their own sandbox here in this ritzy hotel. Let’s just call it the Aria effect.
So, we’re ready to roll with today’s tech goodies:
Dawn of the Age of Hydrogen: Bob Carter, Senior VP of Automotive Operations along with the Physicist/Futurist Michio Kaku announced Toyota’s first hydrogen fuel cell car. It’s named the Mirai, and given Toyota’s general corporate deliberateness, you can expect that this is something other than (forgive the pun) vaporware. Will you hear about it as much as the Prius? Only time will tell, but if it ever does come to market, I guarantee that its drivers will be equally insufferable as early hybrid adopters. Snark aside, this is an impressive little vehicle. It hits 60 mph just 9 seconds after you hit the gas (and yes, that term is finally accurate) and will take you 300 miles per tankful. It’s not going to blow the doors off the Porsche, but that’s an entirely respectable performance, especially for a car that has zero emissions (but keep in mind that hydrogen isn’t naturally occurring—it has to be created and done so in a process that most definitely has a carbon footprint). Toyota figures there’s enough fuel in this market to share since they’re sharing their R&D with companies around the world and releasing their fuel cell patents.
Connect the dots: Next time you want to geek out about TV tech, here’s a new buzzword for you to throw into the mis: quantum-dot technology. Samsung unveiled their new Super Amazing Incredibly High Definition TV with this. Why should you care? Well…other than bragging about it when you get one, this technology gives an expanded color palette with 20% more color than regular LED TVs—and all for less money. Skeptics will ask what colors are missing from their incredibly detailed screens. The 4Ks I’ve seen are so incredible that I find myself disbelieving the picture; it’s TOO lifelike. Then there’s Samsung’s Milk platform, which allows users to listen to music, watch videos and now, even virtual reality. Milk Video is moving to a new app on Samsung smart TVs so that users can stream Milk content directly to their TVs. While the company is working with content providers to bring more VR Video experiences to the platform, it’s all little early out of the gate, I’d say.
Return of the 80s: Sony actually brought out wine and snacks to the press waiting in line to get in. After seeing the announcements, perhaps I should have had more wine. A Walkman! Yes, you read that right. Priced at $1000, the NWZX2 has Android 4.2.2 (touted to be the most stable version), a built-in 128GB micro-SD card and has high-performance audio software that turns your low quality audio tracks into high fidelity audio. You might be sold for the music quality, but I think this might be a tad too heavy on the wallet for the average music lover.
Fanning the flames of Narcissism: There’s been a lot of selfie gadgetery at CES this year. One more joining the bandwagon is the Selfie drone, Zano. This miniature drone follows you to capture photos and videos from up above. This $265 hunk of total self love can be controlled by your smartphone, has a 5 megapixel camera and can track narcissists from a distance of up to 30 meters. The world we live in is a terrible place.
What’s cooking, Martha?: I was surprised to find an entire line of houseware items from Martha Stewart Living Optimedia at the MakerBot booth. Coasters, napkin rings, place card holders, a Dutch oven, cake stand and cake toppers decked the booth. MakerBot Pesident Frank Alfano said. “You can make things faster and you can iterate. So now a designer can design something during the day and put it into a MakerBot and print it out overnight.” This truly embodied the concept of real-time prototyping.