CES 2014 Unveiled: Drones, Robots and a Hybrid Future

Written by Lamont Wood

At the CES 2014 Unveiled event, Lamont Wood sees Parrot and DJI drones, Sphero robots, Star Trek pinball, Samsung’s Smart Home platform — but nothing that doesn’t just riff off current tech. Yet.

aNewDomain.net — Despite more than a hundred sneak peak products available to check out pre-CES 2014, dueling drones were the highlight at the CES Unveiled pre-show press reception Sunday, the opening event of the annual mega-convention in Las Vegas.

The annual CES Unveiled party included a ton of displays and booths from CES exhibitors. Only members of the press accredited to CES were allowed in — about 1,200 were expected. We were drawn not only by what amounted to a select sample of the unmanageably-huge convention, but sagging tables of Las Vegas’ finest finger food. Raspberry macaroons, anyone?


Photo credit: Lamont Wood for aNewDomain.net

The biggest draw, judging by what the camera crews were fixated on, were the mini-drones by Parrot and the somewhat-larger camera drones by DJI Innovations. Check out the snapshot I took of the DJI drone, above.

Looking toward the floor, Orobotix unleashed new little Bluetooth-controlled robots  — Sphero 2Bs. They are about the size of soup cans and roll around on the carpet at seven feet per second. This could feasibly turn your living room into a video game, if this is in fact what you’re into.

Bucking the apparent trend toward domestic mayhem, home security and control was a major theme.

Samsung, among others, showed a home video security system — the Smart Home platform. Retailer Lowe’s showed a home management system, too.

Healthcare was another trend. Imediapac, for instance, showed a smart pillbox, and Fitbug had various health trackers and “digital coaches.” We expect to see a lot more health care and sports-related tech at CES this week.

But the overall impression given by the party matched a comment made during the analysts’ briefings that came immediately before the party: The consumer electronics industry is in the doldrums waiting for the next big wave of innovation.

In other words, the new products we’ll see at CES 2014 are, by and large, hybrids of pre-existing solutions, stepping stones to a larger digital experience that we assume awaits us in a better future.

An unexpected example of this was the Star Trek pinball machine displayed by Stern Pinball, Inc. It has all the bells, whistles, bumpers and flippers of a classic pinball machine, with modern displays and graphics. Check out the snapshot I took — and the Stern Star Trek pinball video, below.

Photo credit: Lamont Wood for aNewDomain.net

I’m on the team of 20 aNewDomain.net reporters and editors covering CES 2014 for you this week. Watch for our coverage here at aNewDomain. In Las Vegas for aNewDomain.net, I’m Lamont Wood.

Based in San Antonio, Texas, Lamont Wood is a senior editor at aNewDomain.net. He’s been covering tech trade and mainstream publications for almost three decades now, and he’s a household name in Hong Kong and China. His tech reporting has appeared in innumerable tech journals, including the original BYTE (est. 1975). Email Lamont at Lamont@anewdomain.net or follow him @LAMONTwood.