By Hardev Sanotra
Las Vegas, Jan 14 : It was a glimpse into tomorrow’s world of technology which would bring far-reaching changes in the lives of those who would finally adopt it — promising to overturn many assumptions made.
Curtains were brought down on the largest consumer electronics show on Earth here on Friday evening. But before it closed, the show brought visitors in contact with how New-Age technology would affect every aspect of our lives — from health, entertainment, security, mobility, food and much more.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) being showcased at the CES 2018 exhibition was seen to be entering new areas like farming and sea rescue.
The Internet of Things (IoT), Virtual Reality (AR) and Augmented Reality (AR), Robotics, 5G technology, smart cities and digital health brought hundreds of large and small companies here, vying with one another in offering their wares.
Some of the new technologies include a miniature 360 degree camera from Taiwan which can be adopted on to a mobile phone, taking video by two lenses with 180 degree vision and then stitching them together for VR view or other uses.
Even alternate medicine advocates were seen riding the techwagon, by offering wellness technology based on Chinese procedures like acupuncture — aiming to heal aches and pains through transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. Whether this would work is open to question but they were at the CES.
So were several stalls from AR/VR companies, offering to entertain, amuse and inform the young generation through more and more challenging games. The distinction between virtual and real worlds were sought to be erased in images that were far better than what was available just last year.
Robotics — from miniature autonomous machines just millimetres in length and breadth — to oversized humanoids which could play ping pong with real human beings were enticing for visitors to try them out.
Robots with sensitive tactile ability which includes just picking up one piece of thin paper and handing it out to pet dogs who followed your command were few of the newer adaptations.
Many companies were aiming their robots at educating and entertaining children at home so that parents who are busy have a substitute to bring up kids. Perhaps aiming to alleviate fears of a human world controlled by robots by one such statement which said that machines will never replace human being — only help them live better.
NASA was there with their latest drones, and so were dozens of others. Drones overwhelmed the visitors by their abilities from surveillance in difficult terrain to rescue operations in disaster zones.
Japanese company Yamaha has come out with a drone to spray pesticides over hundreds of acres of land, avoiding human contact with dangerous chemicals. At $100,000 a piece, it may find few takers in India where pesticide spray is said to have resulted in several deaths from contact.
Kodak, which specialises in photography and photo-printing, have entered into 3D printing — perhaps a natural transition — which makes physical material from plastic and other raw materials to building the blocks for making any product.
The company still does not use metallic raw material but others at the show promised that the technology was around the corner. Once plastic and metals are mastered, there’s no end what cannot be manufactured in a factory from such 3D printers.
There were autonomous vehicles galore, showing us which way traffic would move on the roads in near future — safer, faster and with minimal human intervention.
But one of the most innovate plans on driver-less vehicles appears to be a new concept on truck driving. Instead of removing the driver’s presence completely, Sigma Integrale’s remote driving offers control of large trucks from an office hub near the driver’s home, thus keeping his or her job intact.
Large screens offer the same view through several cameras mounted on a truck that a driver would have normally seen from the driving seat, with full ability to control the movement from hundreds of miles away.
The tech is being tested out and, according to Peter Sosinski, Head of technology at the company, it would take nearly two years for such trucks to be operated by companies after all safety aspects had been thoroughly worked out.
Smart home tech has taken a leap of faith with cheaper and easier controls, wider variety of usage in entertainment, lighting control, communication and food preservation.
Developments in computer technology — from laptops to tablets and high-end personal computers to mobile phones — were there for the visitors to see.
According to CES Senior Vice Present Karen Chupka said, with every major industry now engaged in tech, “our show attracted major global brands and innovative newcomers from industries as varied as entertainment and marketing, sports and healthcare, and automotive and lifestyle”.
More than 3,900 exhibitors made it virtually impossible for anyone one person to see everything, but there was something for everyone spread over 2.75 million square feet.
Next year promises to be even bigger, with more tech advance as has been the case almost every year.
(Hardev Sanotra was in Las Vegas at the invitation of Lenovo. He can be reached at email@example.com)