CES Asia 2016 : a recap of what a young Swiss saw

Many innovations and tech savvy – in the back the massive booth of Intel

Many innovations and tech savvy – in the back the massive booth of Intel

Day 2 has finished and I have seen lots of great tech innovation and speakers. From VR headsets to commercial drones or healthcare robots. This is only possible at CES Asia, the Chinese version of the original CES which is the world’s largest tech show annually held in Las Vegas. The swissnex China’s team had a lot of fun! Here is a recap of key trends and takeaways from this fair.

1) Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR)

Let’s start by defining the difference between these two technologies. AR is a mix of a virtual/digital and real world. While I thought VR was cut off from the real world, with no interaction between the virtual and real environment, I was wrong. VR is not only about gaming and entertainment. VR can also be used for social good like surgery or to raise awareness for causes in need of visibility.

In terms of AR, I knew the famous case of Google Glass. Instead of just being able take a photo or video, smart glasses have the potential to do so much more. Here are some of AR’s applications:

  • Training – worker is repairing a car that doesn’t need to gauge anything. The work streams could be directly projected on the engine.
  • Virtual meeting – using glasses instead of a screen with new ways to collaborate
  • Real estate – possibility to visualize a future building on a virgin land
  • Retailing – possibility to see how a IKEA’s bed look like in our home or how a dress suits you well
  • If you are really interested and curious about VR, have a look at this video on Microsoft Hololens.

I am also a big fan of VR. In the future, we could enjoy a live show of our preferred band in our home without sweating and waiting. Crazy isn’t?

An example from CES Asia: HTC Vive VR headset

Opening ceremony - Gary Shapiro

Opening ceremony - Gary Shapiro

Keynote Alibaba – Future of shopping with the use of VR/AR

Keynote Alibaba – Future of shopping with the use of VR/AR

2) Drones (or unmanned aerial vehicles - UAVs)

Drones first appeared few years ago in the military world but now drones are part of the civil society. I have seen many drones guided by humans (remotely piloted aircraft system - RPAS) but in the future of drones will be autonomous (example of Swiss startup SenseFly).

Here are some of drones’ applications:

  • Land surveying - map and measure an area, assess the pollution level, etc. More accurate and faster info.
  • Agriculture : camera and sensors (infrarouge + ultraviolet) that capture images and analyze potential issues of irrigation, pest, disease in a plantation
  • Shipping: deliver packages/items to customer safely and quicker using UAVs. Amazon and even La Poste Suisse have been testing the use of UAVs for their operations. What most excites me about drones is the “humanitarian impact” it can have. It could be used to send emergency medicines to remote areas after a natural disaster. Zipline, a Sillicon Valley startup, has partnered with Rwanda to deliver blood, medical supplies and vaccines to clinics over the country.

Anyway, the legislation for drones is still unclear, and the challenge is not just to fly them but also to process the data gathered.

An example from CES Asia: Yuneec Typhoon line

3) Self-driving/autonomous cars

Cars have also become a big source of technology in recent years. At CES Asia, there was an entire section dedicated to the future of cars. Main focus was on electric vehicles and self-driving cars. Autonomous cars will enable to remove human risk and improve safety on roads. A lot of questions came out: car sharing services, ways to connect your self-driving car to your smart home. For example, the car knows when you are getting home, turn the heat and the lights before you arrive. Pretty smart and cool UX right?

An example from CES Asia: Mercedes Benz prototype self-driving car

4) Robotics

Healthcare robot – Mabu from Catalia Health

Healthcare robot – Mabu from Catalia Health

Together with my colleagues, we joined a demo session on robots. It was very interesting to see the applications that robotics can have on our lives. Also interesting to note that interaction is increasing further between human and machine. Many robots showed at CES were trying to create a strong emotional link with the users.
I really like the Mabu Catalia Health that helps patient to maintain social interaction and manage their treatment by reminding them to take their medicines. There were also some others that target kids with “edutainment”. My favorite innovation goes to Cowa Robot. A suitcase that follows you and avoids any obstacles. It can serve also as a power for your smartphone or laptop. I know it’s a gadget but I would definitely buy it!

5) 3D printing

I thought 3D printing was mainly using plastic but I was wrong. There are also many other applications’ fields: construction, medicine (protease), food, etc. We even tried some 3D printed chocolate but, to be honest, Swiss chocolate is much better (not at all patriotic).

An example from CES Asia: Tinkerine 3D Printer

Conclusion:

Spending two days at CES Asia was fun (I did skate this – great experience!) and was a good reminder of the technology trends happening right now. Besides all the above, artificial intelligence was also a hot topic of discussion. 

As mentioned in a post from MIT Technology Review on the use of drones in agriculture “all of them need to be fed. Farming is an input­-output problem. If we can reduce the inputs—water and pesticides—and maintain the same output, we will be overcoming a central challenge”. I am so excited by all the technological changes that we are currently witnessing. Not so much the technology but more the potential impact and applications on our daily lives. It goes from agriculture, health care to how we do business in general. Technology will have a profound impact on how we interact among humans. This excites me because, despite all technical challenges in both hardware and software, I see huge opportunities for entrepreneurs: solve problems that matter and relief pains through the use of technology.

As we’ve seen this year with “The French Tech” pavilion that showcases many promising French startups, I hope to see a “Swiss Tech” pavilion, pushed by public-private partnership, in a near future at CES Asia. So, who’s in?

Contributed by Justin Jacquat, Junior Project Leader at swissnex China

La French Tech – located in the Startup Park; most important delegation of startups from a country

La French Tech – located in the Startup Park; most important delegation of startups from a country

Saeiga Automotive – startup that produces fully electric hypercar and that we showcased on the swissnex China’s booth

Saeiga Automotive – startup that produces fully electric hypercar and that we showcased on the swissnex China’s booth

Winterthur Instruments – startup that supplies measurement systems for noncontact & nondestructive testing of coatings and materials, and that we showcased on the swissnex China’s booth

Winterthur Instruments – startup that supplies measurement systems for noncontact & nondestructive testing of coatings and materials, and that we showcased on the swissnex China’s booth