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The CES (Computer Electronic Show) is the worlds largest technological trade show. It is owned and run by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and takes place annually, in January in Las Vegas, Nevada. It attracts over 180,000 visitors and 4400 exhibitors every year. Over 20,000 new products are launched at the show and exhibits range from robotics to automobiles.
The first CES took place in New York in 1967, with 200 exhibitors and 17,500 attendees, showcasing what were considered to be the new innovations at the time, the latest pocket radios and televisions with integrated circuits. It moved to Chicago in June 1972 and began hosting 2 shows a year. In 1978 the winter show moved to Las Vegas with the summer show continuing in Chicago. Some of the notable technologies launched at CES over the years were
1970 Video Recorder
1978 Early home computer
1982 Commodore 64
2004 Blue ray discs
2010 3D Televisions
The winter show in Las Vegas grew in popularity attracting more and more exhibitors every year, but interest in the summer show began to wane in the mid 90’s. The last show took place in Chicago in 1994 and since then CES has returned to being an annual event remaining in Las Vegas.
Interaction technology is defined as the study of how people interact with computers. Although there has been some human interaction from the very first computers, e.g. entering cards into Herman Hollorith’s tabulator machine and Grace Hopper developing Cobol, the first basic coding language in 1943, it really only entered the public domain in the 1970’s when home computers and interactive games consoles started to become popular. Interaction was usually through a graphic user interface (GUI) and was usually quite difficult to use, involving a steep learning curve for users. As technology advanced, it had to become more user friendly if it was to be embraced by the public. Software innovations like Windows by Microsoft in 1990 reduced the amount of learning needed to use the GUI. This was the beginning of more intuitive technology. The world wide web began to be used by the public in the early nineties and computers in homes, business’ and schools started to become the norm. As technology became more commonplace, usability became a predominant factor in design. Advances in user interface made programming and operation of computers something almost anyone could learn.
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In 2018 human computer interaction is one of the most important factors considered by technology innovators. Technology has become part of our everyday lives. Our phones, cars and homes all use computers to perform various functions, and this could only happen because of the advances in interaction technology. The way we interact has moved on from the GUI.
- Touch screen: We can now just touch a single button on a screen to perform a task instead of writing lines of programming, e.g. android and iPhone apps.
- Voice interaction: Voice interaction technology allows us to give vocal instructions to a device, e.g. Amazon’s Alexa.
- Wearables: Devices like Fitbit, can record and return data to us by just wearing them.
- Gesture control: BMW’s dashboard control panel.
As previously stated, CES is the place chosen by many tech innovators to launch new products for the consumer market. These can range from simple but effective advances that we can immediately see the benefit of in our everyday lives, like laptop cases that actually charge our laptops, (InCase IconConnected) to the weird and wonderful like The Rocking Bed, which as the name suggests, rocks you to sleep.
The travel and tourism sector may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of technology advances and new innovations, but technology is used in every aspect of our lives, therefore every industry has had to adapt in order to provide customers with the products and experiences that we have come to expect in the digital age, and tourism is no exception. CES 2018 showcased many things that will enhance the travel experience, from new apps like CarVroom, a car version of the holiday house swap idea, to virtual reality experiences, holidays without leaving your chair provided by virtual reality.
One area of innovation seen was in travel bags and luggage. Companies like Travelsmart Robotics and Lumzag smart back packs have used robotics and artificial intelligence to bring luggage in the tech age.
Lumzag is an American company based in San Francisco that designs smart backpacks. Their mission statement is to help people to worry less by giving them stylish affordable bags, that provide security and technology for peace of mind. Their bags claim to incorporate 7 innovative technologies.
- A built-in charger and power bank: The backpack contains a removeable power bank, allowing the user to charge multiple devices on the go. There is a phone charger in the strap, you just slip your phone into the pouch and it will charge.
- Inside light: The bag includes an Led light which switches on automatically when you open it, making it very easy to find items inside.
- Missing Item Reminder: The smart phone app that helps operate the bag allows you to input a list of your everyday items, purse, keys, laptop etc. Sensors in the bag will notify you if any of these things are missing, eliminating the risk of leaving important items behind.
- Open alert and anti-theft alarm: A security lock can be activated via the app, which notifies you if somebody tries to open your bag, or sets off a high-pitched alarm if somebody tries to steal it.
- Real time GPS tracking: The GPS allows you to see the location of your bag in real time, this is free of charge and doesn’t depend on internet connectivity.
- Back view Camera: There is a camera built into the bag, which you can view on your smart phone screen.
- Global WIFI hotspot: Lumzag have also provided an international WIFI connection which can be activated by the user and is only charged as you use it so there is no monthly subscription.
There are 3 different style of backpack to choose from and prices start from $199 for the cross-body bag, only available on pre-order at the moment
Travelmate Robotics, a San Francisco based start-up company, launched its autonomous suitcase at CES 2018. The suitcase/robot uses artificial intelligence to follow you as you travel without you having to carry it. A smartphone app connects the case to your phone via Bluetooth, allowing it to track your movements. It can travel horizontally or vertically and cases can be chained allowing multiple cases to track you. It will even carry other bags for you when it is in horizontal mode. As well as the obvious robotic features the Travelmate also offers
- A Bluetooth enabled lock for security
- An inbuilt scale to weigh the contents of your bag.
- Bluetooth 4.1, a low energy Bluetooth which allows for longer connectivity
- A removable battery that doubles up as a power bank for phones and electrical goods
- LED lights that indicate battery usage, direction of movement and even indicates the intended direction of the case.
- A removable GPS chip to locate your bag, that can also be attached to other items when the bag is not in use.
- Smart features like Follow Me and obstacle avoidance allowing it to adjust to your speed without obstruction.
The suitcase comes in 3 different sizes and prices start at $1099 for pre-order on a cabin size bag.
The advantages of these bags are easy to see, security for your personal items, the ability to charge your tech devices whilst on the move and the obvious convenience of not having to carry a suitcase.
However, the news is not all good, airlines will only accept bags with removable batteries for security reasons.
Wearable technology has been embraced by the tourist industry. Music Festivals, sports venues and theme parks have been introducing it over the past few years. Disney was one of the first innovators of this with its “Magic Band”, a wrist band that allows you access to the parks and rides and enables easy booking of tables and pre-ordering food among other benefits.
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At CES 2017 Carnival Cruises launched “The Ocean Medallion”, a wearable device that claims to personalise the cruise experience for all passengers. Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival launched the medallion at a keynote speech at CES 2017, along with a 14000 square foot virtual cruise ship to display the product. The assertion is this new technology will turn the cruise ship into a smart city at sea.
The medallion itself is about the size of a small coin that you can wear on a necklace or bracelet, on a key fob, or just keep in your pocket. It connects to 7000 sensors spread over 72 miles of cable spread throughout the ship by Bluetooth and NFC(near field communication) technology. It stores your unique cruise identification, but no personal information for security purposes. Users have the opportunity to program in their likes and dislikes, preferences for activities and dining even before they board the ship. It aims to reduce check in times and make the entire cruise experience more user centred with the device acting as your personal concierge. When on board, the medallion communicates not only with the sensors to perform convenient tasks like open your room door and switch on lights as you approach your room, but also helps staff to provide faster more convenient service by being made aware of your needs almost immediately and being able to fulfil them in a timely manner. It can be used for on board purchases as it is linked to your credit card, eliminating the need to carry cash. You can book excursions, connect to onboard internet, order a drink and even wager in the casino using the device. Smart screens throughout the ship allow you to perform a multitude of activities, and will even suggest some to you based on the technology’s ability to track what you’ve been doing and therefore anticipate what you might like to do next.
The Ocean Medallion was launched in November 2017 on the Regal Princess, it experienced some initial problems, which delayed planned launches but is now available to 100% of passengers on Regal Princess, and Carnival has launched plans to roll the technology out on all Princess cruise ships over the next few years. There is no extra charge for the medallion but some services like the internet access do incur an extra fee.
On Nov 8th 2018 Carnival announced that they had been given an Innovation Honouree 2019 award by CES for the Ocean Medallion, and the CES website promotes them as one of their success stories.
Hundreds of exhibitors at CES showcased the latest in biometric technology. Fingerprint scanning on the latest laptops and tablets, iris scanning from company’s like Clearme.com and facial recognition in cars in particular were prevalent. This technology has huge opportunities for the travel industry. Hotels using face recognition will be able to immediately access information on a customer’s previous visits if any, and offer a more personalised service. Delta airlines us Clear’s biometric IDs to allow members access to its Sky Clubs.
Recent times have unfortunately seen a lot of tragic events worldwide through terrorist attacks worldwide. Since the attacks of 9/11 in New York, airlines and airports were forced to make drastic improvements to security for ensure the safety of passengers. Unfortunately, this led to long delays in airport security queues and frustration for passengers, with the main cause being checking passenger identification, i.e. making sure a passenger is who they say they are. Although this has improved with the introduction of online check in and on-screen boarding passes, where passengers store their boarding pass on their smartphone, some airlines believe that biometric technology could be the way forward to reduce or even eliminate these queues.
British Airways, in conjunction with SITA, an aviation technology company, have been testing facial recognition technology at select airports. High resolution facial recognition cameras take a picture of the passenger as they board the plane at departures. This is then compared to the biometric database, checking the unique human characteristics of the face and when a match is ensured, the passenger proceeds to the boarding gate. The airline believes that this will improve boarding times, ensuring a more efficient experience for both passengers and staff, as well as improving safety and security. British airways claim they can board a full plane of 400 passengers in 22 minutes using the biometric boarding gate.
This technology will also benefit customs and immigration allowing faster and more thorough checks and faster movement of queues. In fact, U.S. Homeland Security, with 1 billion dollars in funding from Congress, were one of the first to research this form of identification in order to track travellers and prevent foreign visitors overstaying their visas.
Currently 15 U.S. airport use some form of biometric scanning as well as Heathrow and Gatwick in London. Other uses for facial recognition and biometrics are being tested in Dubai national airports at security checkpoints and Delta airlines have introduced it at some bag drop stations. It’s possible in the future that this technology will expand throughout airports and will also be implemented in retail outlets such as duty free shops.
The trend for CES 2019 will surely show many of the usual favourites, the latest televisions, Samsung have patented a transparent one which is expected to be launched at the show, mobile phones, again Samsung are reported to launch their cutting-edge foldable phone and automobiles, which have had an increasingly large presence at the show in recent years, showcasing innovations such as self-drive cars and biometrics for security. Voice recognition technology is predicted to be a major area of focus for 2019 with most gadgets having at least some voice control. 5G will likely be prevalent too as the world waits for the release of high-speed connectivity. The Internet of Things can also be expected as smart homes and cities become the present rather than the future. Also, robotics and artificial intelligence have proved to be some of the most popular exhibitions in recent years, as much for entertainment as innovation so this trend will surely continue.
In conclusion, as the world races forward into the digital era and our everyday lives become more and more influenced by technology, the CES will surely continue to grow from strength to strength. It provides an invaluable peek into the immediate as well as far reaching future of technology and as consumer demand for tech continues, manufacturers will continue to invest in research and innovation to meet the ever increasing appetite of the public
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