The Internet of Things, Coming to an Online Store Near You
Here at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the long forecast wave of Internet gadgets, dubbed the Internet of Things, has finally crashed ashore en masse. Where do we start? It’s hard to narrow down the list. Some have reported there are as many as 900 products at the show, which fall into the Internet of Things category. In this article, we will give you a rundown on all you need to know!
Here’s a quick rundown to give you an idea: Want to control your coffeemaker or tea pot from your iPhone? The British firm Smarter has your back. Love your Nest thermostat? Now Nest (acquired by Google for over 3 billion dollars) offers “Works with Nest” to control your Whirlpool appliances. Competitor Dacor offers its own Android-powered Oven with voice activation. Want a camera-equipped drone that flies off your wristband? Intel demonstrated the Nixie. What about smart clothes? Intel also introduced Curie, a button-size wearable computer for smart clothes. How about snowboarding? The XON Snow-1 is a snowboard binding solution with built-in Bluetooth that communicates with sensors you attach to your snowboard.
Then you and a friend can take video of your runs while tracking every kick, turn and jump. Nervous parent of a newborn? If you’re bottle-feeding your child, what parent can resist the Glgl Smart Baby Bottle. It can track whether your baby is getting proper nourishment by monitoring bottle feedings. Free tip to the Glgl company: if you can come up with a smart baby diaper that changes diapers automatically you’ll really change the world!
Industrial Design Hits and Misses: Sleek Curved Samsung TV and Hefty Sony Walkman
One of the most remarkable things at the CES show this year is that what we think of as traditional consumer electronics are not grabbing the top headlines. Yet, there are some pretty interesting devices being introduced this week, like Samsung’s new S9W curved TV, designed by industrial design superstar Yves Behar. It’s a gorgeous 82 inch screen with a super-wide 21:9 aspect ratio. Yet, we have to ask, will the curved surface capture the light reflections from every window of your living room? This may be the perfect television to watch Dish Network’s new Sling TV offering, which is targeted at budget-conscious Millennials who have cut the cord from expensive cable TV packages.
ESPN is on board, so this may be a significant development, as it could lead to the demise of the traditional bundled basic cable package as we know it. Other introductions have not been so well received. SONY, whose executives addressed their recent hacking attack during a CES presentation, also introduced a new, revived version of their Walkman brand. Unfortunately, critics have panned its excessive weight.
Now Everyone Knows If You’re a Dog on the Internet
Back in 1993, Peter Steiner wrote one of the most famous Internet captions for a New Yorker cartoon “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” Well, that may no longer be true. This week at CES, Binatone introduced an Internet-enabled dog collar, the Scout5000. It features cell phone technology, 720p video camera with SD storage, built in microphone/speakers, plus a GPS tracking device. Now while you’re at work, you can watch Max sleep on the sofa or yell at him as he tears into the kitchen garbage bag and starts chewing on dog food cans.
Your Internet-Enabled Dog Can Chase the Bumper of an Internet-Driven Car
Let’s turn to the automotive industry, which, to the surprise of everyone attending CES this year, really stole the show. Chip maker Nvidia touted their new high performance, low-power-consumption chips, designed to power driver-less cars. Automotive equipment supplier Visteon was one of several vendors promoting heads-up displays (HUD) in cars. HUD systems, which first appeared in jet fighters and now are common in the newest large commercial jetliners, can display information like speed or highlight obstacles in the road by projecting a computer image upward onto the windshield glass in front of the driver.
Ford Motor Company presented an experimental remote driving system, targeted at fleet operators like rental car companies. The idea here is remote piloting of a car: a real driver sits in a central control room and can remotely start, drive and park remote vehicles.
Show Stealer: Mercedes-Benz F 015 Self Driving Luxury Research Vehicle
It’s been a long time since the Germans trumpeted a hydrogen technology vehicle in America. With a length of over 17 feet, the Mercedes-Benz F 015 show car introduced at CES is nowhere near as long as the Hindenburg, but it’s kitted out with a luxurious lounge interior with center facing seats, suicide doors and six different screens for watching the outside world go by, playing games or watching movies.
What about driving the car? You can, if necessary. But this experimental luxury vehicle is designed to be driven autonomously. According to Dr Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG and chief of Mercedes-Benz, “the car is growing beyond its role as a mere means of transport, and will ultimately become a mobile living space.” And a luxurious mobile living space at that. The design of the F 015 really seems to have captured the imagination of the attendees at the Consumer Electronics Show. The exterior design reminded us of Mercedes-Benz super-cars from the 1970s — like the C111 and CW311, which was built under license as the Isdera Imperator 108i.
Zetsche believes, “the single most important luxury goods of the 21st century are private space and time.” For those of us that love driving our own cars, we may never adjust to the idea that riding around in a self-driven car is more “private”. But with such a beautiful vehicle as this Mercedes, we can’t wait to try it out.
Toyota Pursues Open Source Strategy to Kickstart Hydrogen Car Infrastructure
But while the Mercedes-Benz F 015 may be the star of the CES show this year in Las Vegas, Toyota may have a more clever strategy to kickstart the key infrastructure needed to support widespread adoption of hydrogen vehicles, especially their new Toyota Mirai.
To encourage widespread adoption of hydrogen car technology Toyota has taken a page from the Tesla electric car playbook. Just as Tesla did last year (for their electric car technology), Toyota announced they would open up their hydrogen car technology patent portfolio (over 6,500 patents) to all comers, including their direct competitors. Broadly speaking, the patents covering hydrogen infrastructure, such as for refueling cars, would be open in perpetuity, but the car technology patents would be open only through the year 2020.
The goal here is twin-fold. First, regarding hydrogen technology, Toyota recognizes that building out a network of hydrogen car service stations poses the greatest challenge to the adoption of the hydrogen powered car. Toyota hopes making the patents available will speed up the adoption of this new technology — and most importantly — ensure compatibility with Toyota hydrogen-powered vehicles, putting them further ahead of the pack.
As for the hydrogen-powered car technology patents being opened up only through the year 2020, this is a clever (some might say cynical) way to make Toyota’s car technology a standard as well. It will be interesting to see which of the automakers take up Toyota’s offer. Automakers have collaborated on pollution controls and safety devices in the past, so there’s precedent for this type of collaboration.
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