CES 2014: Day 3 Report

Thursday was a visibly quieter day at CES, suggesting that many visitors had concluded their business and began returning home. Certainly the courtesy buses and monorail transfers were busy throughout the day, which had the effect of limiting crowding.

My colleague and I decided that day 3 would focus on revisiting tech we’d seen previously, but in much more detail. A targeted approach would be more efficient and there were still areas we’d not fully covered, particularly in the northern end near the Las Vegas Hotel (LVH). Continuing the automotive theme from yesterday, our first stop en-route to the main halls was the driverless automotive area.

Bosch were demonstrating their driver intervention technology. One was a pedestrian detection system, using a roof-mounted camera to scan ahead for people stepping out from behind a vehicle, with self-parking tech shown too. The latter isn’t anything new, having been offered on new cars for a number of years now; in fact, my own 2006 Toyota Prius had it. It was little more than a novelty in truth. I used the feature probably twice to show it to friends! The number of disclaimers you needed to verify meant that it wasn’t practical to use in a busy street. We already know that fully automated driverless cars exist, particularly from Google, but it was a shame not to see it at CES in more detail.

In the nearby marquee, I found a company already working with Hyundai on more sophisticated object detection technology for larger vehicles. Much more than just infra-red parking sensors, these have cameras with facial detection and are particularly useful for large, commercial and heavy-duty vehicles where accident chances are arguably higher.

Other specific tech that I found interesting included a push-to-talk walkie-talkie that uses the 3G cellular network. There were also Wi-Fi variants too, another great example of combining two types of technology to make a usable business difference. In places where radio bands are restricted, using a computer network to talk can open a virtually infinite number of new channels for voice connectivity.

As a first-timer this year, I have learnt that you have to really pound the carpet to find the best tech at CES. Nothing is done for you; there isn’t a golden mile of all the best tech that simply rolls past you on a conveyor belt for your perusal. It has to be sought, and with my pedometer knocking on around 18 miles in three days, with the stiff legs to show for it, a great deal of physical effort is rewarded.

Doing this led me to a neat geo-tagging tool from a company called Foolography. You attach a small USB Bluetooth device to your SLR camera, and pair it with a GPS receiver. When you take a picture, the GPS coordinates are automatically assigned to the image’s metadata. They had a second product that worked using barcodes, whereupon scanning a barcode caused the SLR to take a picture and then linked the image to one you can retrieve online. Clever and genuinely useful.

I was also impressed with CAT’s ruggedised devices and Western Digital’s new cloud services. Just good examples of solid, usable tech that sits outside the shiny periphery of 4K screens and fitness tech.

Friday is the last day, with a planned sweep of the remaining areas and tech we’ve not worked, and then I’ll post a summary early next week. Thanks for reading.

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