"Dear vendors: When you have a booth at one of these events...HAVE A POSTER THAT ACTUALLY EXPLAINS WHAT YOUR PRODUCT DOES!!! Just putting your name on a sign doesn't cut it. When you are competing for the attention of hundreds of people trying to decide which of the 150-200 other vendors they want to stop and talk to, you have to do something to get their interest!!!!:"
I would say at least a third of the companies there -- perhaps even more -- had nothing to promote their product, just their name. And when you're reporting on an event like this, with a limited amount of time, and close to 200 companies to choose from, it's stopping to read those posters or standees or whatever the smart vendors have that explain what they're selling that makes a massive difference. If a company didn't say what they did, I had too little time to waste spending talking to them all, so I just skipped them by. Same with the other people I talked with.
I see this at such shows all the time, but never as prominently as I did here tonight. So much so that it was almost weird.
That aside, there were some interesting products being presented, along with some very odd ones. The tech of the odd ones was impressive, to be clear, it's just that you sometimes scratch your head wondering who they think they'll be selling the product to.
One example. There was an impressive-looking product from ForwardX called Ovis, which they described as a robot (I told you there would be LOTS of robots at CES this year...), though it really wasn't a robot like we think, but it uses Artificial Intelligence to do its job and "computer vision". It's a piece of carry-on luggage on rollers that you could use hands-free, since it follows you around. It doesn't use a chip that you wear and sensor recognizes -- instead, it scans your body and recognizes you. Very impressive and it got a lot of attention -- but I think it's a terrible idea. Most importantly, if there is one thing I'd want to absolutely want to keep my hands on, it's my luggage in an airport. That aside, it follows-behind you, so you have to keep turning around to make sure it's still there, which not only is sort of annoying but a definite hindrance to having a conversation with your party. Furthermore, pulling a rolling piece of luggage not only isn't very difficult, it's actually extremely easy.
There were indeed a LOT of robots there, and I'm sure the CES show floor will be awash with more. But I found none terribly interesting yet. Most were toys for kids. I've seen more substantive robot products at last year's CES, so they'll likely show up there.
I was intrigued by something from a start-up company called Heatworks. It's not ready for the market yet, but it creates hot water...without using electricity. I didn't get the full science of it, but basically is based on graphite plates that serve as electrodes and create electricity when water naturally interacts with it. They had a demo, and whatever its future holds, it was certainly fascinating.
Helite had a very clever idea to complement cycling helme ts -- it was a smart airbag for cyclists. I saw something similar at last year's show for skiiers, so this is sort of a natural progression. But that was fairly expensive and bulky. This is very thin to wear, and is reusable. They demonstrated it (a bike rider rode down the aisle and crashed), and it worked -- the airbag popping open before he hit the ground. The bag didn't look like it offered a huge amount of protection, though I suspect any protection is a very good thing.
I also saw one example of a kind of fascinating artificial intelligence product that I got about 4-5 different companies sending me emails for their own version. So, apparently this is a thing this year. It's an automatic translator. The WT2 Plus understands 36 languages and operates in three modes: automatic (which translates your words and the response back in real time), touch mode (where you touch a button when you speak and when you want to hear the reply, in case you're in a noisy environment), and speaker mode.
Lots more, but we'll leave it for there now. Tomorrow is Pepcom's Digital Experience. Another event like tonight, but it's usually more focused. Then the show officially starts on Tuesday, and that night is the third of these events, ShowStoppers.
And that's the news. Onward into the morass...