By now we know that either 5G or AI is the glue that will hold our world together in the future. And what a world it will be if we believe that all the innovations and products on show at CES this week come to fruition.
One of the joys of CES is seeing how technology could be applied to parts of our lives previously unthinkable. For me, a quick stroll through the Sands Expo hall opened up a world of ways I have failed to use technology to raise my children. When my two were small I relied on a song and face pulling game to encourage them brush their teeth. Modern parents can turn to an Augmented Reality toothbrush like the one developed by Kolibree. All we need now is an AR app to encourage children to pack their own school bags and mornings will be transformed.
This may seem like a flippant example but the reality is that we are in the privileged position of being able to use technology to do the jobs we don’t want to do, the jobs we can’t do and to help us with the ones that fall between. With AI embedded in our lives, in our cars, kitchens and living rooms we have the means to automate out the small tasks that seem to take up so much time.
Foldimate proved to be quite the attraction at CES and is a prime example of that process of automating the tasks we just don’t want to do. Foldimate is a robotic laundry folding system that does just that – folds laundry. Other task saving technologies leverage smart speaker solutions like Alexa to turn on your shower to the right temperature while you lie in bed, while LG’s ThinQ can save you the hassle of turning on your stove.
When we combine AI and robotics things become even more interesting. Robots were a huge feature at CES this year, including an extremely cute bot called Plandabot that promised to teach children to speak Mandarin and Omron’s industrial solutions. While we seem entirely comfortable with the idea of robots in industrial situations, managing repetitive processes and logistics, we still tend to question the presence of robots in our homes. Yet as we get used to seeing and using robots at the airport or supermarket, handling simple tasks and acting as a guide that discomfort will go.
It is a cliché to say children are the future – but those in the robotics industry seem to have them firmly in their sites. There is a growing range of robots to teach coding, languages, to interact with children, even to replace pets including Abelix. Within a decade our children will be as comfortable with robots as they are with smartphones today.
In the meantime, innovation will come into our lives by making us feel or live better. I may not be quite ready to take a robot to bed, despite Somnox’ best efforts and the promise of a better, deeper sleep but I can see how the Spire Health tags, that attach to your clothes and give you real time information about how your body is functioning could bring some benefit. We are now firmly in a time where we will adapt to the possibilities of the technologies available rather than adapting technology to us.