Pilgrimage to the Mecca of Gizmos – CES 2018

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After enduring my worst flight experience ever (with over 8 hours of non-stop violent turbulence), we finally made it to CES 2018! Debut in 1967, this is THE MECCA for all gizmo lovers, the epic center of new innovations. Every year, the world’s largest Consumer Electronics Show attracts over 200,000 geeks from all corners of the world. We missed it in 2017 and I am so glad that we made it for 2018! What a great trip for the new year!

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Due to its massive popularity, airfare and hotel cost 200% more than usual. It was certainly a costly pilgrimage to CES. Every immigration officer we spoke to from Hong Kong to Los Angeles asked us if we were attending this event. After all, it is Las Vegas’s largest and most popular show. It is even better than Christmas, one cab driver said. You can imagine how much revenue CES brings to the Sin City.

We arrived in Las Vegas on the first day of the show. In hindsight, it might be a good idea to arrive at least 1-2 days before the opening of the show to recover from the jet lag. Walking over 20,000 steps per day was no joke especially when one was still suffering from a bad jet lag. I was so exhausted that I went to bed at 8pm on the second night.

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Throughout the 4 days, we walked over 70,000 steps (about 50km)! We discovered many new technologies and met new potential partners. Best of all, we managed to meet old friends (Kevin & Emily) and old clients (Huawei) here in Las Vegas!

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Based on the trend we saw, 2018-2019 is going to be a very big year for AI, Robotics, Smart Living and Coding Kits for kids. Many big brands like LG, Canon, and Sony were introducing autonomous robotic humanoids and smart home appliances. We saw many robots of different sizes and functions. Armed with advanced facial recognition and AI software, robots were able to operate simple tasks like fetching an item from the fridge or ordering groceries online on your behalf. There were many “companion robots” that watch your kids and pets at home. There’s even a robot who follows you to shop and carry all groceries in its compartment.

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Yesterday’s stars like 3D printing, 360 cameras, VR/AR head gears, and e-vehicles took a backseat this year with little new innovation. I saw the rise of mini “DIY” toys targeted for young code writes to mod and hack. Now, even a young kid can custom-make his/her own IOT smart device with modular DIY chipsets and components.

My favorite brand DJI didn’t have any major release. Since the release of Mavic Pro and Spark a year ago, DJI hasn’t had any new exciting release. At the drone section, I spotted an interesting new and powerful underwater drone by a Taiwanese company, PowerVision. The underwater drone can last over 2 hours and travel to a maximum distance of 1km. Targetted for fishing enthusiasts, this drone comes with an uncanny ability to detect & catch fish. Now, that’s super impressive. (I am sure Uncle Desmond will be super keen to get one!)

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Google was no doubt the biggest and most ambitious advertiser in town. We saw the presence of Google’s Smart Assistant ads everywhere (at the airport, in the casinos, malls and the city’s monorail!). Voice command will be a key driving force in tomorrow’s smart devices. Google was also one of the most popular and generous booths in CES, attracting visitors with cool prizes and cash vouchers to promote Google Assistant. I was one of the many lucky winners who won a Google Home Mini Smart Speaker!

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With the surge of new intelligent voice command integrated with the highly advanced optical display, I was hoping to see new emerging visor technology that will eventually replace today’s mobile devices. Disappointingly, there weren’t many. The display companies were still pumping out thinner and bigger OLED screens. The wearables companies were still focusing on the hopeless Google Glass AR concepts and other sport-related applications. I guess we have to wait for another 2-3 years before we witness a new mobile category of visor-wear.

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So, this is it for us at CES. We collected over 6kg of brochures and toys. Thanks to the generosity of our Canadian friend, we were given a wonderful treat of 4D rides and Madame Tussauds on our last night in Las Vegas. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to ride world’s largest and newly crowned Ferris Wheel – High Roller.

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Leaving Las Vegas today and heading for a short 1000-km road trip to the City of Angels. Back at home, our motivated buddies in Asia are preparing for our next big show in CES 2019.

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