January 2022 saw the in-person return of one of the most exciting technology symposiums, Consumer Electronics Show (CES). While there were notable last-minute exhibitor absences and 45k attendees vs the 170k that attended the 2020 show, a slightly subdued CES delivered an impressive lineup of tech that felt equal parts concept and market ready (per the norm). From cyber strollers to pet facial recognition, smart pillows to flying ‘cars,’ CES had something to offer any tech enthusiast.
Including robots. So many robots.
Encore Product Management scouted the show floor for the next great add to the Encore development pipeline. Below is a sampling of the tech that caught our attention (spoiler, there are no robots):
Lamp+ from Swiss company Abusizz can turn any desktop surface into a smart table without adding any technology to the table. An overhead projector, Lamp+ uses a proprietary operating system to accommodate a minimalist interface for touch interactions without physical inputs.
- Built in omnidirectional audio
- Casting capabilities via Airplay, Chromecast, and Miracast
- Accurate and responsive to touch recognition
- 500 lumen output, standard for many pico projectors
- A larger model called “Table+” with improved audio coverage and image brightness
While Lamp+ is meant to be an installed technology, the economics of temporary/modular use in the meeting space is not prohibitive. With a UI so simple, discoverable, and deployable, Abusizz is certainly a company to watch.
Learn more at Abusizz.ch
Fairy Devices Linklet
Wearable technology is becoming more prevalent with the steady adoption of smart glasses, GPS watches, cloud-connected rings, and the promise of smart clothing inbound. Japanese manufacturer Fairy Devices showed off their contribution to the wearable revolution with Linklet, a hands-free video conferencing device; worn over the user’s neck.
- First-person point of view for remote participants
- Image stabilised for less blurred imagery typical of head mounted solutions
- Integrates with Teams or Zoom
- Links with WiFi or LTE mobile, so users are not bound by the limits of their network coverage
A quality first-person communication device opens the door for hands-focused presentations, like cooking classes or trade school instruction, as well as improved remote site visits.
The N1 is a personal audio device that aurally cocoons the user by employing sound beaming technology. The result is what Noveto calls an “invisible headphone experience”.
- 90% reduction of audio outside of the sound pocket
- Sound pocket determined by motion sensors that alter the beam direction to ensure there are no dropouts in volume or clarity
- Whisper-level sonic output is still audible
- Bluetooth, USB, 3.5mm connectivity
Even on the rowdy CES show floor, the noise reduction could be appreciated. N1 can be used for video conferences, music, podcasts, and standard phone calls without disturbing those around you. N1 is scheduled to ship late in Q1 2022.
LG XBoom 360
While not officially highlighted at CES 2022, the XBoom 360 caught our eye (and ear) as it was positioned around LG’s QR code-powered exhibit space. This premium Bluetooth speaker is omnidirectional with a unique aesthetic and serious sonic oomph.
- 360-degree audio coverage
- Bluetooth multipoint (multiple connected devices)
- Wirelessly paired with an additional speaker for greater coverage
- USB-A and 3.5mm inputs
- A customizable mood light near its peak
- Estimated ten-hour battery life
- Smartphone app implements EQ curves, customizes mood light color, and engage “DJ Mode.”
The DJ feature allows for some novel delay effects and drum samples to be dropped in on a whim. There is also a sample creator option, which allows recording of up to a 5 second sample. This could be utilised for audience guidance and announcements over the course of an event.
Learn more about the XBoom 360 on LG’s website.
Samsung Odyssey Ark
We heard about it before we saw it. The CES exhibits space was abuzz with talks of the Odyssey Ark. As Samsung’s largest curved monitor at 55”, the Ark engulfs the user in whatever content they view.
- 55”, 16:9 aspect, 4k resolution, 1000R curvature
- With multiview capabilities and a wireless hardware dial, separate inputs can be positioned and resized within the screen’s real estate to optimise the desired layout
- Can be used in standard landscape mode or in portrait orientation
- Portrait mode sees the monitor literally towering over the user’s head, allowing for a novel type of immersion
Paired with Multiview, this functionality allows for impressive and customizable productivity stations. Technical details beyond the basics have yet to be divulged. The Samsung Odyssey Ark is slated for release in the second half of 2022. Obviously uses include digital signage and engagement spaces, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see large versions of this screen appear in the future.
VideowindoW is a modular solution that changes standard glass panels into transparent displays while actively mitigating glare. Similar to E Ink solutions, VideowindoW uses no backlight and relies on external ambient light to showcase imagery. The opacity of grayscale images adapts to sunlight/overcast conditions. While the company is currently focusing on airport applications, we see this technology splitting into several classes valuable to meetings and events, chief of which includes scenic applications and command/control of installed venue displays.
Just as we can’t seem to escape hologram technology, ‘contactless’ is a word we’ve all become familiar with over the past two years. This typically means utilising a personal smart device to complete something like a transaction or menu selection. Holo Industries has taken the phrase literally with their Holographic Touch technology. Offering users a new way to interface with displays and kiosks, all the standard operating movements of a touch display are present: touch-to-click, swipe, scroll, pinch-to-zoom etc. The user receives auditory feedback of a successful selection; however, it certainly takes some time to get accustomed to the feeling of poking a point in mid-air. It will be interesting to see if these touchless interactive displays gain traction.
Holographic solution provider PORTL announced a desktop version of their “holoportation” device. At 1/5th scale of their life-size product, the PORTL M is designed for holographic video conferencing as well as playback of content recorded and uploaded from a smart device.
- Integrated speakers
- AI-enabled smart camera
- Multitouch display
While holograms have often been seen as a gimmick, the PORTL M may convince consumers to invite a Star Wars-esque experience into their homes. We could see the PORTL devices being used for remote presentations, exhibit booths, and unique artwork displays.
For more about the PORTL M and the life-size product, PORTL Epic, head over to portlhologram.com.
The STARcase jumped out as an interest item for swag giveaways or prize raffles. Available for most major smart phones, STARcase illuminates the back of your device with its customizable LED matrix display. Controllable via app, users can choose from predetermined “light shows,” scrolling text, and notifications from other smart phone applications. Paired with a smart charge battery, the STARcase can also give your device some extra juice. While it certainly is a novelty item, STARcase could be a fun addition to an industry event or tradeshow.
Mandatory Honorable Mention – E Ink
It wouldn’t be proper to post a CES article without mentioning the star of the conference. Turning heads and making headlines, BMW introduced their iX Flow concept vehicle featuring colour-changing technology using E ink. Microcapsules coating the car surface are stimulated to a positive or negative charge for black or white colours respectively. BMW states that this is an advanced R&D project so don’t expect the iX Flow to hit streets any time soon. This technology can’t help but excite an event industry focused mind with the possibilities of E ink for scenic, signage, and décor. But with E ink’s struggle to gain significant holding in the mainstream since its introduction in the early 2000’s, do not expect to see an E ink powered scenic solution in 2022.
Discover more about the technology behind the iX Flow’s look at Eink.com
Our list of highlights is by no means exhaustive (our initial findings report included over a hundred products), we hope this gives you a glimpse of where consumer tech is headed for the next year and how it can be applied to our industry. Some of the component-level technologies we’ll be considering in research and development range across the Internet of things (IoT), Smart Cities, Computer Vision and Tracking, and Home Automation. We plan to include some of this capable tech in future product and solution concepts, so we may share these details with you soon enough.
Until then, we wish you dreams of functional robots.
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