5 Hot Trends at CES 2018

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CES 2018 is a rocking way to begin the year, especially if you are an engineer. Held from January 9 to 12 in Las Vegas, the show provides a harbinger of what's to come in technology, devices, and trends.
 
This year it'll be robots, self-driving cars, battery-powered cars, and virtual reality. The buzzword “artificial intelligence,” will be thrown around when it comes to interaction and automation. Algorithms and technologies like image recognition and natural language processing are making robots smarter and more interactive, and also helping self-driving cars navigate safely by identifying signals, lanes, and objects.
 
Here are some technologies that will be hot at the trade show.
 
Robots
Honda took the world by storm with its humanoid robot Asimo in 2000, and it is presenting newer and more practical robots at CES 2018. The 3E-A18 is a smarter iteration of Asimo with a more pleasant face; the 3E-B18 robot is a motorized chair that could be seen as a sleekly designed wheelchair; the 3E-C18 could be viewed as a delivery robot with expressive features to politely ask pedestrians to get out of its way; and the 3E-D18 is an “off-road vehicle concept” with AI features.
 
Home robots will also flood CES 2018. Mayfield Robotics’ Kuri robot has voice and image recognition features, and it can record video and play music as it roams around a home. Robotelf's “cute next-generation AI robot” is an expressive and warm robot that “talks like a friend as it patrols your home, plays with kids, and makes life easier for elders,” according to the company. Blue Frog Robotics’ Buddy interactive home robot will also be on the show floor. Expect to also see industrial and retail robots.
 
Automotive
Cars have been a mainstay at CES for years. Crowds gather around cool-looking cars, autonomous cars roam around the Las Vegas Convention Center, and companies talk about their self-driving car efforts. Many of these initiatives are now turning into reality, and expect to hear more.
 
Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett will talk about the company’s plans for smart cars, Torc's self-driving Lexus SUVs will be cruising the streets of Las Vegas, and concept autonomous vehicles from companies like Intel and Nvidia may also grace the show floor. Mercedes Benz, Nissan, Toyota, and others will show off battery-powered and autonomous cars and talk about the latest user experiences in vehicles.

It's easy to lose sight of motorbikes in the craze for self-driving cars. Yamaha’s Motoroid autonomous bike can selfdrive by assessing rider biometrics and navigation tracking. The company will also have a motorcycle-riding robot and an unmanned helicopter at CES.
 
Health
Health gadgets are getting more advanced every year. Neural Analytics’ portable Lucid M1 Transcranial Doppler System checks for brain blood flow speed in a non-invasive manner. @Health claims CardioNexion is the "”he first connected medical device for the ultra-early detection and analysis, in real time and continuously, of all cardiovascular pathologies.” Of course, wearables with more health-tracking features will also be present.
 
Sensors
Sensors are the unheralded heroes that make autonomous cars, IoT, robots, drones, health devices and other technologies possible. AMS will show NanEye XS, which it claims is “the world’s smallest digital camera for medical endoscopy and automotive applications.” TDK will show off pressure sensors for industrial IoT and angle sensors for robotic arms. Continental will share an advanced autonomous car and driving concepts with an improved 3D LIDAR sensor and gesture recognition for safer driving.
 
Given that Apple had to get rid of the fingerprint sensor from the iPhone X for lack of space, Synaptics is putting a fingerprint sensor inside a smartphone display. A sensor cleaning kit from dlhBOWLES may not seem critical, but it could be used in self-driving cars to clean optical sensors, which are important in object recognition.
 
Modeling and Visualization
NSF has funded some modeling and visualization software companies that will be present at CES 2018. Startup Pointivo uses computer vision algorithms in the cloud to create 3-D models from images, which takes the load off doing heavy duty on-premise processing. Visus specializes in applying grid data for large-scale visualization.
 
Agam Shah is an associate editor at Mechanical Engineering magazine.
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