“You’re going to pay me to go to Vegas? And I get to attend CES? Stop screwing with my emotions!”
I honestly thought my boss was just pulling my chain at first.
Being my first year to attend the Consumer Electronics Show I was quite excited to say the least. I had overheard someone on the shuttle claiming that attendance would be down 10-15%, but when you factor in that up to 150,000 people have attended this in the past… 10-15% was trivial, there were still a LOT of people here. Arriving at the event and seeing a vast crowd of people out front of the main exhibition halls made the enormous size of this event hit home.
At first I wandered the main hall, then ended up in the south hall, and then realized I had just lost 3 hours in what felt like 30 minutes. Electronics as far as the eye could see, multi-story booths (yes, some of the booths had stairs), and rivers of people flowing in every direction. Finally I found a map and figured out that I actually needed to be about 3 miles away at the Sands Expo Center to find the Robotics Tech Zone.
Anybots‘ booth immediately caught my attention: boasting a slick new telepresence robot, QA. This is taking telepresence a step further, in that QA actually stands about as tall as a human and acts as a physical representation for you. The concept is that if you or your company has multiple sites, and you need to say… check out the new wallpaper in your factory in China, participate at a trade show, or attend a meeting, QA grants you the ability to do so in style. You see and hear what QA does, can look and move around fluidly, and speak as if you were on site. Aesthetically QA is very slick, a robot that would easily fit into a scene from a sci-fi movie based in the future.
The crew behind MechRC also had a booth, showcasing their new Groundpounder variant as well as the their upcoming Educational Program. I got a chance to talk with Dr. Jim Wyatt and Victor Chen about their plans for the robotic line, which includes a K-12 adaptable curriculum, future variants such as the Groundpounder pictured above, and the possibilties of Laser Tag kit upgrades!
Also showcasing at the CES was WowWee, iRobot, Kowatech, Robolabs, Hagisonic, and many more. While the Robotics Techzone wasn’t as big as I had hoped, it was somewhat expected as the show is based around consumer electronics, and consumer level robots are still considered new territory. The great thing about robotics however is that there will always be more in the future!
Feel free to check out our CES 2009 Photo Gallery (and if you were there, add your own!). I focused on taking pictures of things relative to robotics seeing as though the rest of CES is covered by everyone and their grandmother. We’ll see you there next year!