WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS…
First and foremost, we’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year! We’re excited to see what 2020 has in store for Hatch Duo, and of course, bring you all along for the ride! This being said, what better way to kick-off the new year than to attend CES 2020 for our second year in a row? Fresh off our trip from Las Vegas, we thought we’d share a few of our personal takeaways from this year’s showcase.
Robotics and drones were a wide trend throughout the conference. Samsung’s unveiling of smart robot, Ballie, was a huge hit with crowds because of its playfulness and allusion to Star Wars’ BB-8 droid. Samsung also demonstrated a cooking session with Sous-robot chef, known as Bot Chef. In addition, Sarcos Robotics partnered with Delta Airlines to create the world’s first exoskeleton: a full-body, battery-powered suit that enables humans to safely lift objects up to 200 pounds.
Aside from more daunting tasks both in professional and personal lives to assist with, some robots featured at CES also took on more lighthearted, fun tasks. For example, Omron Robotics’ Forpheus robot was built specifically to play ping-pong. Canbot’s robot, UU, has the ability to play music and move its arms along to the beat. Hancom’s Robelf can talk, and take photos and videos.
In terms of drones, Sharp revealed an 8K camera drone for real time captures, and many startups have shown their interest in exploring underwater drones specifically for scientific research. Not only that, but some companies even built drones for home security.
As companies pay more attention to robotics and drones, we anticipate fierce competition in these industries: how will “X-company’s” robot or drone be different than the next? We’ve already seen delivery robots, and now, cooking robots, so now it’s just about continuing efforts to make them cater to specific needs. Perhaps we see a robot in the medical industry that has the ability to perform X-rays in the not so distant future?
A FEW SURPRISES
Concept cars were all the rage this year at CES; in fact, we were excited to see it trending. One in particular that surprised us, was Sony’s Vision-S prototype vehicle. Out of all the prototypes we saw this year, Sony’s seemed the most realistic to make it into market within the next couple years. Maybe it was the fact that it looked like a design similar to Tesla, but Sony won our award for “Best Surprise.” Featuring 360 degree reality audio, the Sony rep mentioned during the demo that “it would sound as if your favorite artist is performing right in front of you.” Because Sony has always prided themselves on being geared more toward entertainment, coupled with safety and comfort we expect in any vehicle, the Sony Vision-S really pushed the boundaries for innovation this year. Sony aims to test on roads later this year.
Inspired by James Cameron’s 2009 film, Avatar, Merceds Benz’s Vision AVTR vehicle concept was a huge hit this year. In fact, James Cameron himself assisted in its debut presentation at MGM Theatre, saying, “I see a future where we continue to co-evolve with our technology.” According to Mercedes-Benz, “The goal was to create a car that prolongs the perception of its passengers.” Its features include recycled material– sustainable vegan leather for the seats, an organic battery technology with an ability to recharge in less than 15 minutes, and most notably, a control unit with hand-gesture control and breath recognition. Yes, it’s aesthetically pleasing, and keeps futuristic and environmental trends into consideration, but it’s hard to believe that cars will run solely through gesture control even five years from now.
Lamborghini also announced their partnership with Amazon, and their Spring 2020 Huracán Evo aims to become the first vehicle with Alexa integration. Simply by saying, “Hey Alexa,” Lamborghini will now offer a more seamless driving experience, and will have the ability to adjust interior lighting, seat heating, or climate.
With concept cars gaining more recognition, it will be interesting to see where these ideas take the automotive industry. In the realistic picture, we see Amazon Alexa integration sooner rather than later, but exciting nonetheless.
One funny observation was the inclusion and acceptance of more sex tech this year. While these products haven’t quite made it to the main floor, sex tech companies were scattered around the Sands expo in the Health and Wellness sections. Queenie Wong of CNET states, “About a dozen were among more than 4,500 exhibitors at the tech extravaganza,” so even though there’s a still long road ahead for sex tech companies showing in future CES conventions, the presence this year was still a huge step forward compared to last year. Although there are disagreements regarding inclusion of sex tech, it is sparking conversation of sexual wellness, so we can definitely see this changing in the next few years.
ALL ABOUT DESIGN
It was evident this year that all products, especially ones in the Innovation Awards section, were handled by an Industrial Design team. Along with offering memorable user experience, it becomes more about standing out: with products that offer almost the same services as others, how do companies differentiate from one another? For example, there was an overwhelming amount of smart home tech this year, but how can one choose between let’s say, Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant? Ring or Lockly Vision? Samsung’s Smart TV or LG’s?
The answer: design. With more companies keeping design and user experience at its forefront, it goes to show that using design can offer extreme value and substance to products in a very saturated market. Let’s take cordless, handheld vacuums, for example. For the most part, we’d figure handheld vacuums have “run their course” especially now that we have robot vacuums like Roomba to do the job, but we actually saw a vast setup for A&S cordless vacuums and their unlikely partnership with DC Comics. Batman’s wings and Wonderwoman’s bright color schemes mainly inspired the design specifically to appeal more to the kids, and entice them into doing house chores. It was an interesting concept: design teams targeting specific age groups, and using entertainment or pop culture to appeal to the masses.
HD’S OVERALL THOUGHTS
After seeing CES 2020, we were underwhelmed that there were less “new categories,” and more “me-too” products. Smart homes, wearables, and traditional TV’s from large corporations were all-too similar in comparison to last year. Are 8K TV’s really necessary when some consumers still lack 4K TV’s? Even in the Sands Expo area, it seemed that the innovation awards had some twinkles here and there, but nothing “extraordinary” in terms of categorical impact.
While we see technology evolving, we also notice that every company has taken initiative in incorporating Industrial, UX, and UI design to properly execute an attractive prototype or marketable product. Ultimately, if some form of design isn’t first on your radar, you will likely be left in the dust because you better believe your competition will be prioritizing it.