CES 2018 : towards more human and useful technologies

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This tech event has gone from being a consumer electronics fair to being a global innovation one.


By Luc Bretones, 01.05.18

The 2018 edition of the Consumer Electronic Show will take place from january 9th to january 12th in Las Vegas. In preview, Luc Bretones, Vice President of Technocentre and Orange Fab at Orange, presents the main trends through this article. First of a three-part series, it shows the willing of a better adaptation of robotic technologies and virtual reality to human.

As has been the case for several years, the ever-growing procession of CES, with almost 190,000 visitors and about 4,000 exhibitors, is described as being not very innovative but repetitive and without any genuine innovative character. As with the announcements between October and December, typical questions will arise, such as: “has the CES ever presented a groundbreaking innovation? And, as every year, there will be participants again, some even wearing the golden badge of the CES Alumni with over 5, 10, 15 and 20 years of participation.

But over the years, this annual tech event has evolved from the once consumer electronic goods show to global innovation.

With an impressive increase in the quality of the 5G show and over 110,000 visitors, it inevitably affects the CES and its themes, such as 5G, network, quality of service and security with. Nevertheless, or just for that reason, I would like to reserve my opinion on these topics for the MWC.

However, if we look to the DNA of the CES, the defining theme of 2018 will be humanization. The humanization or rather, a better adaptation of robotics and virtual reality technologies to humans. It seems as though the Orange’s signature, #humanInside was visionary…

Empathic and sensitive domestic robots

Many of the domestic robots developed last year will continue to be present in 2018, with little visible change in outward appearance but with smarter capabilities and a much lower price level. Beyond the technological performance of recent years, the real challenge is clear: the use and its intensification with the most important factor: trust. Like Djingo, Alexa and others, these artificial intelligence resemble personal assistants. But is there added value in making them mobile and able to mimic and express human behaviours and emotions?

This is an important topic for the next CES. What the role will robots play in the face of virtual assistants, mobile application or smart speakers? And how could one strive to give robot its own personality, which will aptly be suited to the purpose for which it was designed for and be able to fit well in the family context?

Heykuri a domestic robot, designed by a former Pixar designer, combines empathy and interaction with the perception of its surroundings through touch, voice, sounds, and a video. The expression of its mood – contentment or reflection – is mediated by a play of colours. A complete package for $ 800!

Due to the aspects mentioned, Honda is focussing on the acceptance of its robots by improving the artificial intelligence of its humanized robots, reducing their physical dimensions as well as giving them touches of a human smile. Since drones first appeared on the CES as toys and were later adapted for professional use, Honda wants to take a very similar approach with its robots. Honda’s robots are encroaching the B2B world with two major commitments: to be useful and empathic.

Home, a strategic challenge of conquest

The budget, however, remains a particular challenge for robotic conquest. Is not the family often comparable to a constantly changing small business? Still, there are plenty of ideas from Mainbot’s Winky edutainment robot, a true multimedia companion of the family, which is able to transmit emotions and track the development of the child when during its course of learning and also being able interpret the emotional states, desires and even display a level of empathy to a domestic robot designed by Camtoy that is able to monitor and play with your dog in your absence, to SimpleHuman’s voice-activated trash which can be controlled by voice hand movement. Who frankly ever imagined of talking to his/her trash can? Based on these and other examples, it can be seen that humanization will find its way into the home and ultimately lead to simplification of life in the house.

And the French are once again well placed in this global competition with Buddy of Bluefrogrobotics and its best of innovation CES 2018!

But this trend of humanization does not stop at robots alone, on the contrary ….

In search of meaning of both virtual and augmented realities

VR and AR are no exception to this need of humanity and meaning, in all dimensions of the term. The reproduction of touches and resistances or haptic feedback on more than just surfaces or their proximity, which has been succinctly described in previous years, is becoming increasingly popular.

For example, Tactuallabs offers a variety of exceptional use cases and situation scenarios. Although the demos are very technical and lab-based, there is no doubt about marketability of the examples offered in low-latency fibre or 4G + / 5G network.

But especially virtual reality games have enormous potential , like the holotennis had demonstrated during the Roland Garros 2017. They picked up on the popular sport and give it another social dimension. Furthermore, there is also the opportunity today to replace normal Zumba training with the more intense TRX – Total Resistance eXercise Fitness, which is supported by Blackbox VR and encourages and enhances their fitness experience with motorized ropes.

And if you then, like me, want to soothe your aches and relieve your muscular discomfort, then simply test the massage seat of Aurasens, with which you can physically “feel” the music. Hard rock is not recommended here …

Virtual or augmented immersive 360 ° vision, force feedback, its Dolby atmos or just Envelopes: For example, another trend is to create smells, and our young French fragrance specialist, Sensorwake, announced a partnership with Disney to bring that dimension into VR or “simple” video games.

To be continued.


This tech event has gone from being a consumer electronics fair to being a global innovation one.


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