Account Supervisor, James White, braved the bawdy lights of Las Vegas for CES and returned with news of tech hotter than the Strip.
Three words can be used to describe the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Complete. Sensory. Overload.
Streaming masses of tech-crazed conference goers converge on the main entrance of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Attendees are quickly funneled through (apparently superfluous) security screening lines into the main hall and greeted by booming speakers, whizzing drones inside giant audience-protection cages and countless thousands of vendors trying to one-up their neighbors with novel displays and crowd-pleasing hands-on demos.
As a first-time conference goer, it took me a few minutes to recover from the overwhelming scope of the main show floor. It is massive. However, once the shock wore off, a few things became clear about CES 2017; virtual reality is digging in its heels, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs/drones) are ubiquitous, and 360-degree video is what all the cool kids are doing.
However, CES is much more than just an exhibition of the industry tech du jour. There were many exhibits of less mainstream (but just as exciting) tech that will revolutionize different aspects of our lives. Below is a collection of my favorite things from the show that may not make the front page of a consumer tech blog, but are still eminently relevant:
It is a well-known fact that heat is the enemy of electronics, especially enterprise-scale data centers. Gigabyte and 3M have partnered on a novel data center cooling solution (pictured above); two-phase immersion cooling. By immersing an entire server in 3M’s Novec™ fluid (engineered to be nonelectrically conductive), data centers “can achieve greater power density while using significantly less energy” – not to mention the most obvious benefit, looking wicked awesome.
An incredibly exciting niche of robotics research is using the Japanese art of Origami to inspire collapsible, “self-assembling” robots. The above example from Nasa’s JPL booth is a research project with applications ranging from deep-space exploration to exploring hard to reach places on earth. The entire bot is designed to fold the tops of both wheels inward, covering its sensitive componentry and forming a completely flat profile. This new structure allows the bot to be transported safely and efficiently or to squeeze through tight spaces.
UAVs may be all the rage in the tech industry, but not everyone is excited about the prospect of having them whizzing about, especially considering that many are controlled by inexperienced operators, or in the case of a drone, no operator at all.
Airbus Defense & Space has taken a shot across the bow of the UAV market with their sinister-looking “Xpeller” counter-UAV system; parked squarely in the middle of the UAV section of the show.
Quite literally aimed at knocking UAVs out of the sky, the Xpeller system uses radar and a multitude of sensors, including visible, IR and RF spectrum scanners to detect and disable UAVs anywhere within a 2.5-mile radius of its location.
Mechanical Gear Innovation
Not every display at CES was electronics-related. Denso’s “Bubble Gear” challenges traditional gear design with a spherical mechanism. Traditional gears require a shaft, or focal point to function, which comes with inherent design constraints in certain applications. The Bubble Gear can engage in a 360-degree direction, enabling a multitude of power-transfer configurations, while remaining light and compact.
As someone who has been to Las Vegas many times and is well accustomed to its visceral level of showmanship, I was completely gob smacked by the sheer scale and sensory overload of the CES show. It was dazzling and delightful in a million different ways, with spectacular displays of modern technology and memorable interactive demonstrations. Each experience gave a unique glimpse into the tech-driven, “connected” future that awaits us all, just around the corner.
As Captain Kirk from Star Trek would say, “Bones! Buckle up!” - 2017 is shaping up to be an exciting year of new gadgets, gizmos, gaming systems, and mind-blowing advances in technology.