Whether it’s from eye-popping TVs, futuristic cars, shiny mobile devices, mind-boggling virtual reality or the countless camera upgrades, CES rarely disappoints. For 50 years, CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) has been the event for breakthrough innovations and technologies of the future. So it was no surprise when CES 2017 promised to live up to the Las Vegas expo’s reputation as the place to see what’s next in tech.
Connecting the massive crowd
The Las Vegas Convention Center spans 3.2 million square feet, equaling the size of 26 football fields. With 200,000 people on site (plus robots), the place was buzzing. And with so many people comes a lot more tech devices, all needing a robust Internet connection. The Wi-Fi network was comprised of 2,100 access points, supported by four major US wireless carriers, and was the equivalent of 14 cell towers right inside the convention centre. That one network was capable of serving 100,000 people simultaneously.
You have not fully experienced CES unless you see a few of the incredible futuristic cars on display. Toyota unveiled their Concept-i car, featuring an artificial intelligence system called Yuri that will help adapt the car’s comfort and ride to its passengers’ behaviour and mood. Honda showcased NeuV, an electric car that uses AI for autonomous driving, while Audi’s new vehicle features the ability to learn how to park on its own. The difference with AI compared to other self-driving cars is that these systems now learn from their experiences, able to recognize objects or new situations and take suitable action. KITT, anyone?
Televisions are constantly evolving, and Samsung‘s quantum-dot tech (QLED) TV was on display, declaring a greater range of colour than organic light-emitting diode (OLED) TV panels. The QLED’s differentiator seems to be in its colour volume (nanoparticles change the light into over one billion colours) and brightness of the display, suggesting the display can “reproduce everything the human eye can see.” No doubt, this leap forward in performance will spur on more innovations in the hyper-competitive TV display market.
Attendees were prepared to wait in line to try the Virtual Realty Experience as 3DEXCITE (Dassault Systemes) showcased their immersive 3D experience software — and it seemed to be, well…highly immersive. I watched a number of people wearing VR headsets grabbing the air and moving around, obviously enamoured with the highly-evolving technology.
Artificial intelligence was everywhere
Artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced machine learning is trend number one in Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017, and to nobody’s surprise it played a prominent role at CES this year – though not necessarily visible to the consumer.
AI uses software algorithms and programs to make computers think, predict, learn and solve problems more like humans, which creates efficiencies and benefits in peoples’ lives. AI can also use historic data and trends to help predict the future, such as consumers’ buying behaviours. For businesses using AI techniques, they can move customer relationships to more meaningful interactions that engage customers to hyper-personalized levels. Industries such as automotives, healthcare and additive manufacturing are all actively leveraging new advances in AI.
The platforms that intelligent virtual or digital assistants can plug into were also more expansive this year at CES 2017. This may accelerate the Internet of Things (IoT) market, creating new applications and services to make devices more valuable and useful. The global intelligent virtual assistant market is projected to grow by 32% from 2016 through 2024, according to Transparence Market Research, from $627 million in 2015 to a projected $7.9 billion by 2024.
AI-based 3D printing services
3D printing and scanning was a hit at CES 2017, and with good reason. The technology is shifting possibilities across the board for B2B and B2C businesses alike.
Sculpteo announced the first artificial intelligence for 3D Printing, by building an AI that checks the quality of CAD files, recommends materials and identifies your project risks based on your inputs. What they have essentially created is a suite of AI-based tools to assist their clients in successful 3D metal printing.
3D scanning eyeglasses that fit your face
Opticians rely on accurate measurements for customer satisfaction, and poor-fitting frames or misalignment of the lenses with the eyes are two well-known challenges. That’s where accurate 3D scanning of the customer’s head and facial features, together with precise measurement of pupillary distance, are delivered quickly with Fuel3D scanning. Although the optical industry is not their only focus, Fuel3D boasts a data capture speed of sub-0.1 seconds, meaning they can compete with other high-end products that can capture the same level of detail but require more time and skill to operate.
3D printing sees a revolutionary change
3D printing might be a relatively new technology, but a company called Essentium is developing a revolutionary change to the process. For as long as everyone in the business can remember, the process of 3D printing filament has been as follows: feed a thermoplastic filament into a hot end and move around the shape of the object. The problem with this approach has been around heating, where desirable materials expand and shrink according to temperatures encountered. This generates warps, dimension issues and layer bonding challenges.
Industrial machines solve these issues by enclosing the build volume and providing heating for the entire chamber. Typically such arrangements operate around 70 degrees Celsius, making materials more stable during printing. Once complete, the parts cool uniformly in all directions to assume the desired dimensions. However, this heating system is under patent by Stratasys and this approach is not open to other 3D printer manufacturers.
Now, Essentium has developed a brilliant new approach to solve this problem, which they call Fuse Filament. The process helps strengthen the bond between the various layers of material being printed, and it’s being reviewed by players in aerospace, automotives and prosthetics. Essentium’s vision is to allow consumers to print parts for their daily lives, such as a spare part for you car, rather than waiting for expensive replacements from traditional dealers.
Read more about the process at Fabbaloo.
Additive manufacturing getting a massive boost
GE’s involvement in metal 3D printing, along with major corporations such as Siemens and HP investing in additive manufacturing and 3D printing acquisitions, partnerships and R&D investments, are demonstrating huge growth opportunities in the industry over the next several years.
GE recently redesigned an engine that featured as parts created with additive manufacturing technology as possible. With this use of additive parts, GE saw tremendous cost savings – going from 50 different suppliers to one, and dramatically shifting from 855 parts to only 12. They also had a 20% lower fuel burn and a 5% weight reduction.
During CES, GE announced its GE Additive business will collaborate with GE Capital to sell and finance metal additive machines, meaning that manufacturing companies will now have more ways to access 3D printing.
Up Next: Manitoba represents at CES 2017