When it comes to the Super Bowl of tech-dom, CES is King Kong and everyone else is Harambe (RIP). In the 50th year of the biggest consumer electronics show on the planet, this year’s post-holiday tech spectacle starred over 3,800 exhibitors and close to 165,000 people blanketing miles and miles of Las Vegas hotel and convention hall space, trying discover the next big thing no one ever thought we’d need.
From self-driving cars to smart homes, VR to AR, drone tech to levitating speakers, a common theme at this year’s show was the extent to which connectivity will continue to enrich our lives (or tie us down, depending on how you look at it). Then there’s robot tech — oh, the robot tech — that reminds you that Westworld and Ex Machina may not be far off. I saw everything from bionic coffee baristas pouring lattes (albeit slowly) to robot chess players to cute little personal robots possessing facial recognition software. By the way, they may soon be gunning for your house pet’s job.
Some of these amazing advents are here to stay. Others will be forgotten by Father’s Day. Nevertheless, here’s the best cutting-edge tech I saw while serpentining the endless squares of Sin City hotel and showroom floors.
A Personal Drone Called The EHang 184 Quadrocopter
Fact. Most of us will never make enough in our lifetimes to own a private jet. Or possibly even fly first class. But having a personal drone to fly? Now, that’s way more attainable thanks to this star of the CES showroom floor — the EHang 184 quadrocopter. Known as an autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV), this MegaDrone is a “medium-short distance transportation solution.” It fits one person up to 220 lbs. and can go up to 30-40 miles on a single charge. It’s already had over 200 successful test flights. Think of it like an Uber, but 11,000 feet up in the air.
The kicker? The passenger doesn’t have to do anything. It’s completely autonomous, getting you “point-to-point in a single click.” You just have to be comfortable letting an app control your destiny from the cloud above. (Note: The EHang 184 has been cleared for takeoff in various parts of the world… and could come to America in the next few years. They just have a little government red tape to navigate first. No big surprise… this thing flies itself.)
A Camera That Stalks You, In A Good Way
Nobody wants a stalker, but let’s say that stalker was a cool, flying 4K camera capturing cinema-quality HD video of you jogging through Central Park? Would you permit said stalker to document your every move in obsessive detail? That’s the premise of the Hover Camera Passport, one of the cooler things that caught my eye at CES. It essentially flies behind you capturing aerial footage and selfies, while autonomously recognizing its owner’s phone. It’s also super-light at half-a-pound so you can simply grab it out of thin air when done. Want to see it in action? This video pretty much sums it up.
This one is currently on the market now, going for $599.
A Pair Of Smart Underwear From Spartan
Let’s be honest, a willing female may one day politely ask you to make a baby with her. When she does, you’ll want your swimmers in top-notch, Michael Phelps-type shape. The CES-unveiled Spartan Smart Underwear are radiation-blocking boxer briefs (let’s call ’em smartie pants) that protect family jewels from harmful intruders such as phone radiation and other household pests. Given scientific research points to cell phones as having the potential to cause cancer — not to mention, mass spermicide — the high-tech fabric acts as an electromagnetic shield for your package. I didn’t try any on, but they look fairly comfortable if the photograph above is to be believed. After all, no guy wants to wear an X-ray blanket draped across their junk, they’re too unwieldy to get off.
A Car By Millennials For Millennials, Called The Portal
Speaking of protecting your boys, when you are in fact be called upon to bear children, you’ll want a car that isn’t a mojo-killing minivan to schlep them from point A to point B. “A car for millennials by millennials” is how Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) pitched their Portal concept at their CES unveiling. It’s an all-electric battery electric vehicle (250-mile range) with sliding doors, passenger-to-passenger connectivity, and modular seats that let you place them in-and-out of the main cabin. The concept is a BYOD affair – Bring Your Own Device – with a community tablet front-and-center where the rear mirror used to be. The car would be fully upgradeable to autonomous and everyone gets their own A/V experience thanks to zone control. So if you’re on a road trip, your wife can devour 90 hours of ‘The Bachelor’ while your offspring binge-watches seasons 1-4 of The Wiggles. To each their own.
A Levitating Speaker From Crazybaby
Say what you want, conventional audio speakers have been non-levitating for way too long. The Mars levitating speaker from Crazybaby hit the market last year, but is still worth mentioning since it just pulled down an Innovation Award at CES. The auto levitating speaker hovers like a UFO above the subwoofer as the “Mars craft rises and descends over the base silently and charges wirelessly when the battery level is low.” The hi-fi sound quality is also surprisingly good. It goes for $299.