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CES 2024 – This Years Most Exciting Tech on Display

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Each year, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) showcases new and futuristic tech from some of the world's most innovative companies.  2024 is no different, with tantalizing ideas and implementations being shown across a series of disruptive industries.  The following are a few examples of these, ranging from EVs to Robotics and more.

Artificial Intelligence

Unsurprisingly, AI is playing an outsized role at this year's CES, with different levels of integration being found across a wide spectrum of devices.  One of the most talked about offerings is particularly intriguing, as it is already affordable and beneficial to the masses today.  This would be the r1 pocket companion by rabbit.

rabbit r1: $199, no subscription.

While this device looks simplistic, it is anything but – and that's the point.  Rabbit Founder and CEO Jesse Lyu states that,

“Our mission is to create the simplest computer – something so intuitive that you don't need to learn how to use it”

The r1 is the company's first attempt at achieving this by replacing the commonly used ‘app-based operating systems' associated with iPhones and Android devices.  In their place? An AI-powered ‘companion' that leverages recent advancements in large language models (LLM) and what the company calls its ‘large action model (LAM)' to become the intuitive, productivity-focused assistant that past attempts like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant were always meant to be.  This means no more fumbling through scores of apps and jumping through tabs.  Instead, the r1 can see tasks through from start to finish by actually taking action – not just understanding intentions.

“Finally, we can build a computer that, in addition to understanding what you're trying to say, can actually help you do things on your behalf.” – Rabbit Founder and CEO Jesse Lyu

Perhaps what makes the r1 so intriguing is not its capabilities but rather its price of $199 – meaning that it will be quite accessible to the masses.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

With the rapid rise in interest surrounding AI over the past couple of years, it may feel like Augmented and Virtual Reality solutions have been pushed aside to an extent.  Rest assured, though – the technology is here to stay and is also improving quite quickly.  With options like the Apple Vision Pro on the horizon, CES 2024 has brought what may be a top competitor with the next-gen offering known as the XREAL Air 2 Ultra.

While it would be reasonable to think that this product is a direct competitor to the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses, this is not necessarily the case.  Yes, they are both sunglasses with built in cameras, but the XREAL Air 2 Ultras' do so much more.  This is a product that looks to truly offer an augmented reality experience.  This means, through the use of integrated OLED Sony screens, objects can be overlayed in your environment and interacted with in real time.  The company refers to the product as the ‘World's most advanced lightweight spatial computing glasses'.

Another part of why the approach being taken with this product is intriguing is that, unlike VR headsets, these are much more realistic for use in every day life.  As amazing as the Apple Vision Pros' will be, no one will be wearing them on a morning commute.  With that in mind, the XREAL Air 2 Ultras' also needed to succeed at being normal glasses, and have done so through their lightweight, and features like electrochromic dimming, which changes the darkness of the lens at a moments notice – making them usable indoors and out, and when you want to watch videos.

It should be noted that the XREAL Air 2 Ultra is a premium product with a pair setting buyers back $699.  This is fully justified, however, as the glasses boast the smart features previously mentioned, have a titanium frame, and an impressively sleek package.

Electric Vehicles

Around the world, Japan has long been known for its innovative and forward-thinking companies.  Two of these giants, Sony and Honda, made a splash last year with the announcement of Afeela – an Electric Vehicle project meant to showcase the future of transportation.  Well, Afeela is back at CES 2024 with its latest concept vehicle that is equipped with all kinds of neat gadgetry.

AFEELA | UX Movie 2024

As you may have guessed from Afeela's tagline for its latest prototype, “…the future mobility that communicates intelligence with you”, AI is playing a large role (and a lot of screens).  What this means is a vehicle that is more of an interactive experience.  This means things like a built-in ‘conversational personal agent', immersive entertainment, spatial audio, noise canceling, augmented reality navigation, self-driving, and more.

While the vehicle on display Afeela is still a prototype, it is an intriguing vision of what the future may hold for EVs.  We already know the combustion engine is on its way out for the average consumer in the coming years.  What makes this vehicle special is the integration of complementary technologies that will make people want to buy an EV rather than being forced to.

Robotics

With constant advancements in material science, robotics continues to be another disruptive industry that is rapidly developing.  While it may still be some time before we have robot helpers ingrained in our everyday lives, the idea of a robotic exoskeleton is already here with products like the WIM by WIRobotics.

Extremely Lightweight Wearable Robot WIM!!

Like the previously mentioned rabbit r1, one of the best aspects of the WIM is its broad targeted demographic.  This device is meant not just for those with mobility issues but for any and all.  It can aid in exercise, lifting loads, long workdays spent on your feet, and more.  This is made possible through the use of technologies like back-drivable actuators and force sensors.  In doing so, the company states that it should be “…the first wearable robotics company for the masses that can safely interact with humans”.

While there is no word yet on what a WIM will cost, the appeal of such a product should be vast.  If the company is successful in making the product attainable by the masses, the WIM may represent one of the first real-world implementations of wearable robotics.

Sustainability

Recently, we touched on why heat pumps are increasingly being touted as a top option for home climate control.  While the technology behind them once relegated their use to warmer climates only, it has progressed to the point where they are viable just about anywhere.  This was on full display at CES 2024, with manufacturers like Bosch deciding to develop its own air-sourced cold climate heat pump – the IDS Ultra – joining the competition in recognizing the role these units will play in the coming years as we transition away from less efficient means of heating/cooling.

CES2024 - IDS Ultra Heat Pump

Air-sourced cold climate heat pumps, like the IDS Ultra have the ability to produce full heating capacity down to as low as 5°F (-15°C).  Products like this may not be as exciting on the surface as wearable robotics and an AI assistant, but as we continue efforts to transition towards more sustainable energy practices, they are arguably more important.  Bosch states that,

“Switching to heat pumps comes with energy and cost saving advantages, as heat pumps can be 3‐5 times more energy efficient than gas furnaces and use roughly half the electricity of standard electric furnaces and baseboard heaters.”

For those considering an air-sourced cold climate heat pump, make sure to reach out to a qualified installer, as the cost of such units can vary greatly depending on the complexity of installation, size of unit required, etc.