CES 2019! If you go by their numbers, the 2018 edition was attended by over 180,000 people, 70,000 of those being exhibitors, with more than 4,500 companies exhibiting, yadda yadda yadda. It's massive! At one point I naively thought I'd hop on a quick shuttle to another hotel to see some pro audio gear, and after a few minutes of trying to find where the line for that shuttle actually began I just decided to wander into a different hall.
But what made CES 2019 especially great?? We were there! Tariq and I were the face of e14 at Avnet's booth, and we did our best to talk up all the cool stuff the community does, or at least as much of the cool stuff as we could cover in a 30 second pitch. But we also saw other people's cool stuff, so I thought I'd write a blog about that.
Next door to our booth was Not Impossible Labs, who had a super cool demo set up of their Music: Not Impossible wearables. They felt that in the modern world deaf music lovers and concertgoers deserved a better experience at concerts, since too often deaf listeners have to use a balloon or PVC pipe to capture the wall of low quality vibrations coming from a speaker as some semblance of a listening experience. Their wearable is an attempt to use the skin as a replacement for the ear drum, which studies validate as a way your brain can perceive sound information.
Though the skin isn't as skilled as the ear at distinguishing among frequencies, it gives good feedback about shifts in amplitude, and the demo reminded me of a distinct memory I have of seeing a concert as a kid, feeling the instruments almost moving my organs around, whereas before then listening on the radio had seemed like an experience entirely for my head.
So, I wasn't aware that LG stood for "Life's Good," and if nothing else I could take that away from my CES trip (EDITOR'S NOTE: Dan needs to do his research before blogging, because apparently LG comes from Lucky Goldstar, a former brand name of theirs). More importantly, look at the pretty curved displays! This was legitimately something to see, a gorgeous array of curved OLED displays showing fireworks, waterfalls, rolling waves, and so on. The sort of thing you can just stand in front of and forget the world for a while, it made the exhibition hall feel more like an art gallery for a few minutes.
This wasn't a new product, but it was one highly relevant to my interests! Roland are a legendary name in electronic music, having created classic synthesizers, drum machines, and more, and they've somewhat recently been producing software emulations of those instruments, which they sometimes pack into physical modules you can buy. This all makes sense, given that 3rd party companies had been doing the same for years with great results! Their Roland Cloud offering of software instruments has its downsides: monthly subscription based business model (as opposed to simply buying the instruments outright), problems with legibility in the GUI at times, excessive demands on your processor ....... but MY GOODNESS did this emulation of the Jupiter 8 sound amazing. The sonic equivalent of the LG displays above, basically. A real Jupiter 8 will set you back more than $10,000 USD these days, so to get a very convincing emulation in your laptop is pretty exciting. I played it for about a half hour without even noticing the time passing, and I could have gone on for much longer.
Helicopter taxi!? Helicopter taxi. Something we'll see in the real world soon? Dunno, and the prototype shown here isn't operational, but standing in front of it felt pretty amazing, even though it seems a bit pie in the sky as a method of transportation for everyday folks.
Billed by Panasonic as "Human Characteristic Sensing," this alternately interesting / creepy device attempted to tell folks their age, gender, heart rate, and maybe more, I couldn't quite tell. I also didn't have the time to see if it would work on me, but judging by the awkward smiles of the participants the age sensing was pretty darn close? They claimed this was done with a consumer grade camera and that it had been implemented in airports in Japan, where I sincerely hope they haven't activated the age sensing feature.
Also, our booth mates were our friends from Hackster.io! It was nice to have fellow community folks along for the ride. They're running some really cool competitions at the moment, like the BadgeLove contest, inspired by the DEF CON show's love of artistic PCB badges, and Make It Better, based around a Sony dev board featuring, among other things, a new camera module that isn't publicly available yet.
And finally, this wasn't necessarily an interesting product, but I liked that Bosch's description referred to this "Urban Arrow Shorty" as "a perfect way to carry children," given that it looks like a trash can attached to a bicycle. I'm sure the black trash can for carrying your kids is equipped with a tablet inside so they can watch Paw Patrol and listen to Baby Shark (don't click that link if you don't want a song stuck in your head).