The last dispatch from CES 2017

CES 2017 was the show where almost every product was labeled “intelligent” or “smart,” and all had AI (Artificial Intelligent) enabled features.

Here are some examples where AI seems to be used like a “hammer looking for a nail”:

  • The Hair Coach with the sensors and AI enablements which vibrates to warn you if you brush your hair too hard, just for under $200;
  • The Fridgecam ($100) that takes a picture of the contents of your fridge every time you open it and updates the application on your smartphone;
  • The garbage can ($240) that opens if you say “Open can” or “Open sesame” and stays open until you say close.

Two of the more useful AI enabled examples is the Carnival Cruise line’s Ocean Medallion (covered in my second blog) that anticipated the cruiser’s preferences or Amazon’s intelligent assistant Alexa that will bring AI into every home. But being AI enabled is just half of it. To be truly using AI, it has to be able to learn from your instructions or past examples. IBM’s Watson is a good example of this, it “learns” new information daily. The navigation in my car is not a good example, as I’m still trying to “teach” it to take my preferred way to downtown rather than its preprogrammed way.

Let’s look at some of the more specialized products that may address a small community of users followed by my top 3 pick of products that I reviewed.

Equisense Motion is available for about $200. It is a training aid to help track many different aspects of a horse’s movement and training. In addition it can flag if the horse is injured. It easily attaches to the girth and will track up to 4 horses. It can be useful for the competitive rider to help monitor training, or could be a tool for the amateur rider to have more information about the horse.

Litter robot is also in the connected pet care category but seems more in a category “hammer looking for a nail”. It is an automatic, self cleaning litter box for cats. Once the cat leaves the litter box, a timer starts to allow the litter to clump, before the cleaning cycle starts, depositing the waste into a drawer. The app, (yes there’s is an app) allows you to monitor the waste drawer level; give “drawer full” notification and monitor your cat’s usage of the litter box. The cost is $450. I must admit, in our household, with our very spoiled cat, I’m the litter robot, replacing the litter once or twice a week as needed. As for an app, I use my nose. If I can smell it, it’s time to replace the litter. I think my method is more cost effective.

The last product is almost as odd as the litter robot. The Spartan underwear for men is designed in Paris, France and prevents radiation exposure by incorporating pure silver fibres throughout the cotton weave. It is advertised as blocking 99 per cent of wireless radiation such as cellphone and wifi radiation that is alleged to decrease male fertility. When I asked the people in the booth whether there were studies proving that wireless radiation causes infertility, I got only a vague answer. The underwear can be washed up to 300 times and the cost is projected at $30-40, about five to six times the price of regular underwear, but that may be the price of progress, if indeed it blocks radiation.

My top 3 pick of the products that I’ve seen at CES

My top pick is the Sleepnumber 360 bed which I described in my second report. It is a smart bed that uses biometric sensors to track sleep by measuring heart rate, breathing and motion. The bed automatically adjusts when the sleeper moves from his back to his side. When the sleeper snores the head board on his side of the bed is raised. Not only that the two head boards can be raised individually. I tested it and found it very comfortable.

Well, to be honest, Echo the cylinder-shaped speaker that comes pre-loaded with Amazon’s Alexa would be my first choice but it is not currently available in Canada. Amazon’s Canadian Prime accounts do not work with the Echo and Amazon doesnot offer the app for download on the Canadian Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. I’m sure they will in the future.

My second choice would be 42tea cube that helps to make the perfect tea, with instructions for 1,500 varieties of teas. I’m never sure that I make the tea the right way and this will ensure that my tea is perfect!

And in spite of my above comments regarding the Fridgecam that allows you to look at the content of your fridges remotely, it’s my third choice. I’m even considering preordering it for my husband’s birthday as he does most of the grocery shopping.

So here we are, another CES is done. I have seen lots of products and interesting gadgets and noted technology trends. How much of these products will be here next year? Only time will tell.

Catherine Aczel Boivie
Catherine Aczel Boivie
Dr. Catherine Aczel Boivie is a widely respected executive with over 30 years of experience in the leadership of advancing the value of information technology as a business and education enabler. Prior executive roles includes: CEO Inventure Solutions and Senior Vice President of Information Technology/Facility Management for Vancity Credit Union; SVP of IT and Chief Information Officer at Pacific Blue Cross and Canadian Automobile Association of British Columbia. Catherine is also an experienced board member serving on several boards, including those of Commissioner for Complaints for Telecom-television Services, Canada Foundation for Innovation and MedicAlert Canada. Dr. Boivie is the founding Chair and President of the Chief Information Officers (CIO) Association of Canada that has over 400 Chief Information Officers as members across Canada. She has been publicly recognized for her contributions, including being named as one of Canada's top 100 most powerful women by the Women's Executive Network in the "Trailblazers and Trendsetters" category and the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee medal for being a "catalyst for technology transformation".

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