Each year at CES the tech world is introduced to a whole host of gadgets large and small, critical and kitsch, flashy and functional, and nerds everywhere start writing their letters to Santa. When we haven’t been meeting with partners and exciting new leads, or trying to build our stand between the three of us (read: how many IoT experts to change a lightbulb), we also managed to narrow down our pick of the five most influential technologies coming in 2018 and beyond.
Toyota unveiled a new take on the “mobility” concept at CES on Monday. The ‘e-Palette’ is an electric, self-driving vehicle that will be a combination deli, pizza delivery, retail shop and ride-hailing service. Amazon, DiDi, Mazda, Pizza Hut and Uber have all signed on as partners already, giving us some great visions of ordering a pizza and a taxi home at the same time.
Company president Akio Toyoda called the e-Palette ‘a platform that will be the backbone for mobility-as-a-service, for autonomy, for car-sharing, for any number of services that we want to make possible, and quite frankly we can’t wait to see what Toyota brings to the fiercely competitive autonomous vehicle arena. In Toyoda’s words: ‘Today you have to travel to the store. In the future, the store will travel to you.’
MyLiFi from French company Oledcomm is a lamp that uses Li-Fi, a fairly new concept that uses the power of LEDs – yes you read that \right – to transfer data between the bulb and a dongle attachment. The MyLiFi lamp beams a wireless, radiowave-free internet connection to nearby devices, and promises to provide faster speeds than Wi-Fi. It’s also pretty much unhackable, unless the intruder is right next to the actual light bulb.
This kind of technology is fascinating to see, and could be ideal for applications that need a radio-wave free signal, like hospitals, and those mission-critical applications that need extreme security with a fast and stable connection.
The Arable Mark is an out-of-the-box device packed with solar panels and sensors and machine learning, that can tell a farmer pretty much anything useful about their crops.
An acoustic sensor measures the volume of rain, sensors facing the sky and the ground can measure light levels, and check when nearby crops are healthy or ready to harvest by the color of their leaves.
These sensors create a powerful tool to avoid damage or stop it before it gets worse, but they are not the crown jewel of the Arable Mark, newly introduced point forecasting. After a while in one spot, the sensors on the device use their own data alongside public forecasts, and the Mark uses machine learning algorithms to map out the microclimate of its area with surprising detail.
The implications of this kind of device for connected agriculture and beyond are intriguing, from commercial farming operations producing better produce and higher yields, to using point forecasting to improve climate data in countries that suffer from drought and severe weather, to help farming at a local and continental scale.
This years show saw more connected healthcare products than ever before, and there was a clear emphasis on products that help out ever-worsening sleep habits, not to mention the next generation of fitness trackers, but what caught our eye was much less flashy, and has a much wider application.
Xenoma e-Skin pajamas represent the pinnacle of fabric sensor technology, with motion sensors in the legs of the pants, and a full suite of vital signs monitoring such as heart rate and breathing in the shirt, including ports for an ECG in the sternum should it be needed.
This technology has the noble aim of allowing dementia patients to have their independence without posing a risk to themselves, as being bed-bound can be confusing and distressing for patients and incredibly care-intensive for medical practitioners.
These connected clothes again promise great things for connected health, and paint a picture of fully integrated hospitals that collect data at every stage and remove the need for invasive testing all-together, particularly useful in patients with chronic conditions, and those with debilitating mental conditions that can really suffer from a simple check-up.
You might have heard of Matrix watches, that power themselves using a thermocouple battery which harvests the heat from your wrist. Their latest product, the Powerwatch X, is no different, but now includes smartwatch notifications via a bluetooth connection – an impressive amount of oomph from such a notoriously weak power source.
It seems Matrix is fairly clued up on emerging connectivity technologies however, and has created an Energy Harvesting Sensor Beacon that would effectively mean the huge amount of IoT devices that need very low power supply would never have to replace their batteries.
This has massive implications for connected industry, and could give groundbreaking network technologies struggling to remain relevant a much-needed boost to their viability. The company won’t be ready to begin manufacturing until half way into 2018, and there’s no word yet on how much it’ll cost, but we are sure that the price of this technology will shrink dramatically as demand skyrockets – those of you waiting for a reason to adopt LPWAN, watch this space.