LAS VEGAS — CES, formerly known as the International Consumer Electronics Show, is in full swing here this week, with more than 150,000 attendees, thousands of exhibitors, and our own conference on “Service Robots Arrive in Daily Life.” One of the highlights of CES is the collection of startups from around the world in Eureka Park 2019.
While most of the products seen at the Sands Expo Convention Center are in the early stages of commercialization, Eureka Park 2019 is a prime opportunity to see innovators, research institutions, and regions as they court buyers, partners, and investors.
In this reporter’s notebook, here are some observations from Eureka Park 2019, in no particular order:
1. Aerial drones are more focused
DJI is the clear market leader, and there are always lots of drone startups. In Eureka Park 2019 we saw some aerial drones that could be used for more than taking remote selfies.
Astral AR, whose slogan is “We build drones that stop bullets,” uses machine learning to identify potential trajectories. The company’s armored drones have sensors that its founders said can detect guns through walls and are designed to be flown at shooters.
Astral AR’s co-founders won the “Women in Drones” award in 2017, and it has already partnered with 16 police departments in Texas. It’s funded by private grants, so there’s no financial burden on local jurisdictions.
South Korea’s DroMii with 4S Mapper is offered in a drones as a service (DaaS) model, providing car-free street mapping and potentially image analysis of road conditions for autonomous vehicles.
2. AI and IoT are everywhere
Continuing the trend from last year, there were lots of startups in Eureka Park 2019 claiming to use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and connected systems. In other parts of CES, there’s a host of wearable technology for sports and healthcare, smart home devices, 5G demonstrations, and connected vehicles.
We’ll see when AI and the Internet of Things move from buzzwords to become part of the technology infrastructure, like the cloud, but in the meantime, there are some promising applications.
ASTAR offers the low-priced CaliCam sensors for its “SSML” approach to navigation, short for “stereo SLAM and monocular localization.” Its calibrated cameras come with unique software.
SapientX is working on conversational AI for uses such as self-driving car interfaces and fast-food counter service.
3. AR and VR are all the rage
Most of the uses for augmented and virtual reality in Eureka Park 2019 were around entertainment, but we did see a few applying the technology to surgery.
Greek startup ORamaVR demonstrated how VR can help surgical residents prepare for clinical trials by working up to the necessary level of complexity.
Neosper applies AR to prepare surgeons for a patient’s unique anatomy before an actual procedure.
France-based Syslor uses models of infrastructure for augmented and virtual reality.
4. Robot dolls and pets remain huggable
We’re somewhat skeptical about the utility and viability of certain personal and social robots after the untimely demise of Kuri and Jibo, but there were still lots on display in Eureka Park 2019.
We saw a number of people hugging Groove X‘s LOVOT.
While not a personal robot, Tactile Robots‘ delivery robot has a padded exterior, enabling it to be shoved around. It’s in trials in the hospitality industry in Italy.
5. Food robots are finding recipes for success
We missed happy hour in the Great Britain and Northern Ireland pavilion, but France’s Mixologiq can automatically mix drinks.
A Zimplistic representative in the Singapore pavilion said that the Rotimatic flatbread-making devices are the most popular kitchen robots in the world.
AutoKitch demonstrated a prototype of its cooking robot, which can prepare stir-fry dishes from bins filled with ingredients.
6. French presence wins Eureka Park 2019
As in the past few years, France had an impressive pavilion in Eureka Park 2019, with more than 50 booths from multiple regions, including Paris.
For instance, New Health Community‘s Charlie is a mobile customer-service robot for hospitals.
Drust‘s dongle plugs into car dashboard systems to gather data for real-time AI analysis. Its system can provide insights and feedback to motorists on their driving habits and make safety recommendations. Drust is also aiming at the B2B market.
EL Robotics last summer completed trials of its “trolley bot” for materials handling. It’s working with DHL for last-mile delivery, and Airbus for a “follow mode,” in which a robot moves with a person wearing an RFID device.
Runners up included the Italian Pavilion with 48 companies, the Israeli pavilion with 20 companies, and the Holland Pavilion with more than 10 companies. Note, however, that Asian robotics leaders Japan, South Korea, and China had numerous booths beyond national or regional pavilions in Eureka Park.
7. Marine drones are growing
Several companies pitched small underwater robots for professional applications in addition to hobbyist use.
Notilo Plus offers two autonomous underwater vehicles: the iBubble, which can follow divers, and Seasam, which is for commercial uses such as infrastructure inspection or scientific exploration.
8. Personal robots still coming
Flyingwings isn’t a drone company. Instead, it’s making a personal robot that looks like a rolling Jibo. Note that the robot is only available in China so far.
Robomodix’s Alan and Alena were robotic heads and shoulders intended as an interface that’s compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or Apple’s Siri.
Elsewhere at CES, Ubtech’s updated Cruzr and Walker displayed cloud and ambulatory capabilities, respectively.
9. Lots of tools for developers
TRC Robotics (for Telepresence Robotics Corp., pronounced “Tracy”) offers its Commercial Personal Robot or CPR Platform (not to be confused with cardiopulmonary resuscitation). The vertical mobile platform will be available in April.
This could have gone in our AI item above, but Mycroft AI (named after Sherlock Holmes’ smarter brother) has developed open-source voice assistant that could be embedded in virtual assistants or smart vehicles.
Ubiquity Robotics provides a mobile platform for developers and hobbyists whose coding is based on ROS, the Robot Operating System.
Key Infuser‘s robot finger can demonstrate smartphone functions, showing potential customers how to use certain apps.
10. Say cheese for robot cameras
Taro uses object tracking to help video creators smoothly and automatically follow their subjects. It has moved from a crowdfunding campaign to shipping this month.
With 1,000 exhibitors in Eureka Park 2019 alone, there’s lots to see and interact with at CES! Stay tuned for RBR’s ongoing coverage from the show.