For the past 50 years, the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has been impressing Americans with innovative products created to enhance their lives. This year’s show, held in Las Vegas from January 8 to 12, was no different. Over 180,000 people flocked to view and test the thousands of gadgets that consumers can look forward to purchasing in the near future. Here are a few that grabbed our attention.
Tired of dragging your carry-on bag through busy airports? Then you might want to consider the self-propelling CX-1 made by Chinese company ForwardX. The smart suitcase uses facial recognition software to follow its owner as he/she is checking in or heading to the gate. Though CX-1 can only move at speeds of up to seven miles per hour, a GPS-controlled wristband enables owners to keep track of the suitcase’s location and also alerts them if someone tries to steal it en route. The autonomous luggage is expected to be available by late 2018.
My Special Aflac Duck
American insurance company Aflac’s plush electronic version of its world famous duck aims to provide comfort and companionship to children with cancer. “My Special Aflac Duck,” which won numerous awards, including the prestigious “Best of CES 2018 Award for Best Unexpected Product”, was developed in partnership with Sproutel, a research and development workshop focused on making health care playful. Kids can feed, bathe and dance with the robotic duck or play “doctor” by administering it the same treatment they are undergoing. Their special pal will also make soothing sounds, quack, and nuzzle close when the young owner is upset or in pain. The best part? Once approved by the young patients at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, the toy will be given away to every American kid battling the dreadful disease.
Aibo Robotic Dog
Sony’s latest version of the Aibo robotic dog is almost as fun as the real thing — but much less work. The pet canine can recognize its owner, obey several commands, and even recall the behavior that pleases its master the most. Aibo can also learn new tricks, take photographs, and, over time, develop its own unique personality. Unfortunately, the robotic dog, which first appeared in 1999, is currently only available in Japan and costs an astounding $1,750. Hopefully, more affordable versions of man’s new best friend will make their way to other countries soon.
Ping-Pong Playing Robot
Forpheus, an “athletic” robot developed by Japanese technology company Omron, has one mission — to pursue “harmony of humans and machines” by teaching them to play ping-pong. The 10-feet tall machine, which uses a camera and artificial intelligence to track the ball’s speed and rotation up to 80 times per second, can predict the ball’s trajectory accurately and rarely misses a shot. The smart Forpheus can also quickly assess its opponent’s abilities and adjust the playing level, making the game fun for both table tennis novices and experts. Though this may not be the most practical invention, it sure ranks high on the “fun” index.
Black Box VR
Though many people resolve to go to the gym regularly every new year, few attain their goal. Black Box VR wants to change that by turning tedious workouts into fun video games. Using virtual reality system HTC Vive, specialized equipment, and motion-tracking controllers, gym users will find themselves fighting enemies, including giant mythical creatures — all while getting exercise. Whether video games will entice consumers to exercise will be revealed later this year when Black Box VR opens its first boutique gym in San Francisco.
Resources: cnet.com, wired.com,cnn.com, aflac.com, endgadet.com
Reading Comprehension (13 questions)
- What does the CES showcase?
- How many people went to the 2018 CES show?
Critical Thinking Challenge
From the list above, select a product that, in your opinion, will...
Vocabulary in Context
“The smart Forpheus can also quickly assess its opponent’s abilities and adjust the playing level, making the game fun for both table tennis novices and...