CES 2018 highlights from Prototype Projects’ managing director, Justin Pringle
I headed out to the US to the CES 2018 show in early January to see the latest technological developments from manufacturers round the world. Having read reviews of the Las Vegas show (the biggest of its kind in the world) over the last few years, I expected a great array of innovation. For the most part, I was not disappointed. Here’s a quick round up of the CES 2018 highlights…
Robotic power & AI
Given the array of futuristic movies using robots, it was great to see several house cleaning droids and robotic dogs. These were fun, albeit superficial, products that kept me entertained for a little while. Several companies showcased robotic suitcases that follow their owner around the airport; a great idea but the prototypes were lacking in staying power unfortunately. Their heavy battery would need removing to go through security and needs recharging after four hours. On a practical level, the additional weight would cost the traveller additional luggage fees.
These were all great innovations but I was left wanting more.
While I wasn’t completely disappointed in the products on show, the smart homes and self-driving cars concepts are not new and, although the significant advancements in these areas were great, there wasn’t the wow factor of previous years. Was I alone in wondering whether people really need the technology to remotely turn on the shower? Yes, no-one wants to get into a cold shower but…
Medical devices that didn’t disappoint
On the positive side, I was particularly interested to see the medical device developments. Given Prototype Projects works with a number of the Cambridge-based product engineering companies working on medical device development, we know it’s an area of rapid progress and innovation.
On this front, CES did not disappoint.
L’Oréal’s UV Sense was a great bit of technology aimed at preventing skin cancer. The user sticks a small sensor to their thumbnail which is linked to a smartphone app to tell them when they are at risk of sunburn. Other wearable technology included fitness and sleep trackers. Philips showcased a headband called SmartSleep, which produces deep sleep tones designed to help those with hectic lives to benefit from a good night’s sleep.
Likewise, Nokia’s sleep product came in the form of a tracking pad that is placed under a mattress and analyses a user’s habits so it can provide tailored advice on improving their quality of sleep.
Show stoppers – the good and bad
Part way through the week, the rain came down (and in) causing Google to shut its booth down as it wasn’t waterproof – a show stopper in its own right. Given it was Google’s first time exhibiting at CES, it must have been disappointing. That said, when the rain had stopped and the area was cleared up, they were back in business.
The sheer volume of disco speaker boxes was phenomenal. For a moment it felt as if I’d jumped back in time to a 1985 DeLorean!
The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, for me anyway, was seeing the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience). It is an intuitive and intelligent multimedia system which will provide a completely new user experience for compact cars. It’s set to enter series production in 2018 in the new A-Class.
The Skully helmet was also fantastic. As a biker myself, the new features are great; it offers 180-degree rear view camera and an HUD display under the right eye along with the usual features of music playback, phone ops and navigation.
Prototyping power and politics
A final thought on the show: as a country, the UK was very poorly represented. I was left wondering if the government is doing enough to promote the UK as a leading light in the field of technology. If you went to the show, I’d welcome your thoughts. If you’re a product designer whose company did not exhibit, why not? I’m genuinely interested so please do get in touch.
All in all, it was a good week and I am glad I went. My hope for the 2019 show is for innovations to really push the boundaries. And, having read other articles about CES 2018, I can see we are not alone in our thinking.
The Tonejet Tour
Back in the UK, I had the pleasure of welcoming some of the Tonejet team, including Tracy Hadley, to take a tour of our prototyping bureau. They have been clients for a number of years – take a look at this case study. Tracy kindly followed up the tour with an email. She said:
“Many thanks for your time yesterday and allowing us to meet the team at Prototype Projects.
“The tour was extremely informative and gave us an insight into how our products are made. Very interesting indeed!
“It was good to hear of the other services Prototype Projects could offer us. We have always found you guys to be helpful and efficient and very responsive to our quote requests, so being able to use all your services could be very beneficial. We will certainly be asking you to quote for some other items going forward as it is a pleasure to work with a supplier who does what they say they will do and who have a delivery record that is 100% on time; this certainly makes my life as a buyer a lot easier!”