CES is the Consumer Electronics Show; an annual event where developers showcase their new technological and electronic innovations. Jerry Horton, IT Director for Blue Valley Technologies, is giving us a little glimpse into the future of all things technology.
What a week in Las Vegas! I was just one of about 200,000 attendees at the show and, believe me, I felt like Charlie when he visited Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory – overwhelmed, but completely in my element. There were so many exciting things to discover and learn about, mixed in with some things that, frankly, I just don’t get yet (check the pet dryer from my second blog last week for an example.) That being said, I saw some very exciting developments in precision agriculture, robotics, and general tech that I wanted to share.
n.thing is a South Korean company that is working hard on precision agriculture, especially focused on producing crops year round with minimal resources for maximum yield. They build hydroponic farming facilities in what are essentially shipping containers. These use no soil, have controlled environments, and require a minimum of human intervention to produce, using a combination of solid ag practice and smart tech.
South Korea isn’t the only country that is working on this concept. GRÕV Technologies is an American company based in Utah working on the same concept, but taking it a couple of steps further to include grain products, specifically targeting animal feed. I spoke to the GRÕV representative for quite a while and was very excited by both their technology and concepts. With their design, many kinds of crops can be successfully grown year round and they are testing new ideas all of the time.
Enhancing agriculture isn’t just an indoor sport! John Deere had a massive booth at CES to introduce its new self-propelled sprayer with a massive 120-foot carbon-fiber boom (it was so big that I couldn’t even get one whole side of the boom into a picture) and stuffed with advanced technology. John Deere also won a CES Innovation award for its new 8RX tractor. Given the size of this tractor, it was not on display at the convention but, I do want to send out a hearty congratulations to John Deere for winning this prestigious award. Keep up the great work!
Robotics aren’t new by any means, but they have approached science fiction proportions these days! I did see several industrial robots, but what really impressed me were the sheer number of service and companion robots on display.
Canbot is intended for commercial use as a service robot, but it does have a personality and is capable of carrying a limited conversation.
The AlienGo robot. This is not a commercially available product at this time, but it does follow you around like a dog. Seriously, a robotic canine…
Yes, there was a robotic shark. It is used for research in coral reefs and similar environments. Other marine robots are used for inspecting underwater pipelines or the hulls of ships.
Hancom Robotics had a display based around companion robots for children, including Toki, a kind of robotic nanny and study buddy for kids. Toki uses facial recognition to identify family members and will interact with each appropriately.
There were countless examples of gaming tech, including improved gaming chairs, keyboards, mice, headsets, and even haptic jackets (haptics involve the sense of touch or other tactile feedback.) The haptic jacket can be used with games similar to Call of Duty to ‘feel’ the action during the game.
To wrap it up, I did want to talk about an impressive piece of technology which I think could have a very positive impact. When it comes to autonomous driving, there is a lot of focus on cars, trucks, mass transit systems, and the like. While this technology is in widespread use in a limited way through adaptive cruise control and collision avoidance in most vehicles, even Tesla can’t make the claim that they have made a fully autonomous vehicle which is 100% safe and reliable without a human operator. However, autonomous bicycles show some real promise.
This bicycle (see photos in attachment) was created by IAV, a German company as a delivery vehicle. IAV is working toward full autonomy for this bike to make deliveries for take-out, small grocery orders, or even as part of the Amazon fleet. However, it is currently in use by postmen and delivery people using the ‘follow-along’ feature, which allows the operator to walk between locations in a neighborhood and have the bike follow them to each stop. Very handy and efficient without the extra trips back and forth to climb on the bike.
Notice the barcodes on the apples (see photos)? This is also part of the IAV project – a way to barcode each delivery so that a fully autonomous bike will track inventory and only open the cargo container for a person with the correctly matching code.
No doubt that CES was exhausting, both physically and mentally, but it was well worth the trip for Blue Valley to keep abreast of the latest technologies that will be useful for our customers! I hope you enjoyed these blogs as much as I enjoyed collecting all of the photos and information.