Paul Schroeder

It’s the time for college bowls, NFL playoffs, New Year’s resolutions, and, of course, all things technology at CES in Las Vegas. The show officially kicked off on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, with lots of attention to self-driving vehicles, voice-controlled everything, robots galore, and audio products with hearing enhancement. A big thank you to the Consumer Technology Association for supporting attendance by disability advocates, including Lee Huffman and me.

Here are a couple of highlights so far. We’ll have a full wrap up in AccessWorld next month.

Alexa in the Shower?

Yes, I said voice control everywhere and Moen has launched a shower system that includes temperature and other control with Alexa. The accompanying app also includes 12 pre-sets for you and your family members.

Robots for Meaningful Work?

Seems like the robot trend still is mostly about play and fun, but vacuum systems continue to evolve. Ecovacs Robotics showed off new models of floor and window cleaning robots. Ecovacs uses LIDAR (laser-based object detection) which they claim provides better floor mapping allowing more reliable vacuum or mop capacity in one unit.

Self-Driving Vehicles

Among the many displays of futuristic vehicles, CES attendees can meet Olli, a 3-D printed self-driving bus from Local Motors. Thanks to a partnership between IBM, the CTA and Local Motors, Olli is designed to be a fully accessible self-driving vehicle.

CES is propelled by a never-ending pulsing beat, making it tough to hear. Noise-cancelling headphones can help, but increasingly, audio companies are turning to more sophisticated approaches to help address competing environmental noise but also mild to moderate hearing loss. Nuheara showed off a couple of models that will hit the market later this year with Live IQ a hybrid noise cancelling system and IQ Boost targeting hearing enhancement.

AfterShokz was showing off the Trekz Air bone-conduction Bluetooth headphones; they are quite light. And, we got a quick look at the Jinni, a very small wearable speaker from PH Technical Labs. It handles Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant. Hopefully we can do a deeper dive into this speaker for the wrap-up article next month.

Tech for Good

The technology industry is definitely making an effort to showcase technologies that bring meaningful improvements to people and our planet. For example, smart city technology is a bigger focus this year at CES. I ran across a foundation working to promote Focused Ultrasound to treat diseases like Parkinson’s and cancer.

Aira, the company that brings visual information to users through smart glasses and smart phones connected to skilled agents (full disclosure, my employer), announced that CES is part of its “Site Access” network, which means Aira user minutes are covered while touring the show. Promo alert: the Minneapolis-St Paul airport was also recently announced as the newest member of the Airport site access network.

Speaking of smart glasses, hopefully Lee will tell us more about the Samsung glasses he got a chance to check out.

OK, three more days of fun and discovery await!