Tuesday at #CES2014

The Smart Home. I broke from my usual tradition of heading first to Central Hall and instead spent most of the day exploring South Hall.  First up was the smart home at the Z-Wave Alliance and ZigBee Alliance. Both are short range wireless technologies that are being applied in home networking applications so that a broad range of smart devices can work together and be easily controlled. These home applications include smart lightbulbs, thermostats, door locks, appliances, beds and much more.

I get the sense all of this is being designed from the bottom up rather than the top down. While the gadgets are individually fascinating, we still don’t have the answer to “why” a consumer would want their entire home to be smart.  This will take time to sort out.  In the early days of the Web, individual web sites were each interesting by themselves – but it took some years to get a sense of what the web as a whole would mean to people. Just as the web had to be experienced for people to understand what it meant, smart homes will have to be experienced for people to connect the dots and see what this really means for them.

Robots. Further down South Hall were the robots. We’re getting there but we’re not there yet.  The robots on display were a step up from those I saw at CES 2012, although there were some repeaters like Paro the therapeutic robot.  Donna couldn’t resist posing with Paro.

We’ve had vacuuming robots for some time, and Roombas are a fixture of our house.  A new spin on cleaning robots is the Grillbot grill cleaning robot. I guess you could just let the stuff burn off, but Grillbot looks a whole lot more fun.

Near Grillbot was a small army of Rapiro robots, a Kickstarter project designed for the Raspberry Pi. Not yet R2D2, but cute especially in large quantities.

Drones. Drones are making a big presence at CES 2014. Parrot had a number of drones on stage.  Two parallel stages in fact, with live demos running throughout the day.  The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 lets you fly and record in HD for just under $300, shown here in a formation of four.

Parrot also had the new MiniDrone, the baby sibling of the AR.Drone, on stage. Kind of wasp-like. In this case, small is a bit scary.

At the bottom of the above Vine, and in the Vine below, you’ll see Parrot’s new Jumping Sumo.  Jumping Sumo is super fast, does instant 90 and 180 degree turns, and (not show in my Vine) can jump 3 feet high at a startling speed.  This device, once unleashed on the world’s homes, is going to break a lot of glasses and china. Jumping Sumo does have an onboard cam – so if it does break something, it can be held accountable!

Tablet Man. Sign twirlers of the world move over.  You’ve been replaced by Tablet Man, wandering the halls of CES.

Oculus Shock. There was an Oculus Rift connected to an Xi3 PISTON Console near by Tablet Man.  Donna and I couldn’t resist giving the Oculus Rift a try.  I immediately felt a wave of nausea as I strapped on the headset and started wandering down a series of ominous halls.  Donna’s turn next. She picked up where I left off and encountered a startling character.

3d Printing. We first saw the MakerBot Thing-O-Matic at CES 2011, where it was on everyone’s “best of show” list.  Back then, Thing-O-Matic looked like a wooden crate. Today you’d hardly recognize it – sleek, black, and sophisticated, churning out colorful bunny after colorful bunny.

But even more impressive was the HUGE amount of floor space devoted to 3D printers this year (and a few 3D scanners), and the armada of different 3D printer mmanufacturers with products on display.

That’s it for today!

About Tom Novak

Tom Novak is the Denit Trust Distinguished Scholar and Professor of Marketing at the George Washington University, Washington, D.C.


  1. Awesome – love that stuff! Hello Donna and Tom!

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