Below are highlights from our tours of the CES show floors. We've included technology that's being used to solve a consumer problem, that raises the bar for competition, or has the potential to change the game.
HTC Vive Pre
Whilst often eclipsed by the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive offers a superior experience. Intuitive hand controls, more natural visuals, and motion tracking that's just-so-slightly more comfortable than Oculus. The collaboration between gaming company Valve and HTC will be the best piece of VR kit on the market, as soon as it actually goes on the market, which could be after April 2016.
First Response PREGNANCY PRO
At first glance, a bluetooth-connected pregnancy test might seem like tech for its own sake. But our client, Church & Dwight, has listen to customers and devised a product that makes those 2-3 critical minutes before the results a little more manageable. The bluetooth-connected device, with Qualcomm tech inside, connects to an app that provides instructions and advice based on a user's pregnancy profile: hoping for a baby? It'll factor that in when revealing the results, and then on-board successful parents onto the next stage of pregnancy management via the app.
GM came back hard in the competition for electric vehicles by unveiling an affordable (USD30 - 35k) small car that can travel over 200 miles on a charge. The media system, sophisticated computers and of course the battery are all from partnership with LG. This proves that heritage automotive brands are still a force to be reckoned with, amongst new upstarts like Tesla and Faraday.
Vantage Snap drone
The promise of an automated aerial film-maker to capture your radness is exciting for any skier, snowboarder or mountain biker. The Snap drone is a backpack-sized foldable drone with high-quality video capability and enough smarts to both follow and avoid the owner whilst filming. Covered propellers mean less chance of injury, and the modular structure means tech can be upgraded without replacing the whole unit.
Think & Go Signage
Think&Go's imaginative solution from France enables content saving, coupon-grabbing and tap payment on any piece of digital signage, via NFC or Apple Pay. Even without a NFC smartphone or watch, the system can work with your RFID credit card, hotel key, work ID, or public transport pass. Nice to know we won't need to carry another card or piece of kit.
Elementium Plasmatik lighters
Elementium is the next evolution of the Zippo. Shoots plasma sparks at 900 degrees celsius like a tiny lightsaber in your pocket. Whilst tobacco-smoking is diminishing (or converting to e-cigarettes), there's still a growing, legal, and profitable market in the USA and other countries for "non-tobacco smoking". Elementium is well-poised to be the gadget of choice when you really need to light something on fire.
Aryballe Smell Sensor
Aryballe Technologies demonstrated the NeOse unit. The 44 bio-sensors in this device mimic the human nose, allowing it to identify smells and many tastes. The unit assigns a unique identifier, like a barcode, to every smell. This helps for quality assurance (e.g checking a perfume or food smells exactly how it should) but also to compare one aroma to another. Imagine a system to describe exactly how a new chocolate, wine or whiskey compares to your favourite.
Whirlpool + Amazon Connect-to-Care
Not only do these Amazon Dash-compatible Whirlpool appliances re-order their own washing supplies when running low, the Connect-to-Care program also makes a donation to Habitats for Humanity every wash. This presents a promising example of how brands can add ongoing value and feel-good moments through connected devices.
Airbus Counter-drone System
Amongst the hundreds of companies showing in the Unmanned Systems hall, Airbus Defense Systems offered a stark reminder that drones demand responsible usage. Espionage, terrorism or just irresponsible drone operation can lead to tremendous damage - and sometimes no-fly zones need to be implemented. Airbus offer a drone signal-jammer that can redirect a drone away from danger, and also detect the source of the drone control.
The insurance giants Genworth championed an "empathy technology" showcase employed a the latest tech to educate people on the health implications of aging: vision, hearing and mobility issues. Strapping into a cyborg frame, users were able to experience vision issues, loss of hearing and difficulty sitting, standing and walking around.
The undisputed darling of the Tech West show floor, this laundry-folding robot promises to take over another chore. However the huge size and speed left audiences a little unimpressed: it takes 7 minutes to fold one shirt. Maybe next year?