CES 2018

The Year of Automation.

Christopher Blanchard, Journalist

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  The “global stage for innovation,” the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) is staged in Las Vegas every year and gives us a glimpse into the revolutionary future of technology. This year, January 9, the overall theme was A.I. (artificial intelligence) and some of the stunning advancements make The Jetsons and Star Wars seem like a not so far, far away future.

  Imagine entering your bathroom and controlling absolutely every single aspect of the usual bathroom experience with your voice; that’s Kohler’s vision for the future of the bathrooms nationwide, allowing the sink, toilet, and shower to all react to the users voice commands, but don’t be too surprised if your neighbors think you’re crazy for shouting commands at your toilet.

  Actually, the bathroom appliances don’t react to voice by themselves; they have to be accompanied by an Amazon Echo; luckily, Kohler plans to place this device safely into your bathroom mirror with their brand new Verdera Voice-Lighted Mirror, which adjusts its own lighting based on the surrounding light, the time of day, and whether a user is nearby.

  I asked Mr. Lightfoot, a U.S. and World History teacher here at the highschool, what he thought about Kohler’s strive towards automated homes and if they serve a purpose in today’s society, to which he responded, “Automated homes creep me out…they may have practical uses, but the Terminator fan in me gives me pause.” which does raise questions as to how hackers will be able to interact with the smart homes–we may just have to start installing antivirus programs in our homes.

  Mr. Lightfoot also added that, “automated bathroom accommodations will become the norm as time goes by,” adding, “cell phones in the 90s were luxury items, but now they’re ubiquitous.” perhaps someday, even gas station bathrooms will be automated, or at least, not as disgusting.

  While the thought of full automation in your home sounds useful at first,  removing even these simple daily actions within our homes could promote laziness while also providing a new platform for which hackers can cause mass mayhem.

  Not to worry, though, if you can afford every piece of Kohler’s new line except the Verdera mirror, (or you simply don’t want an Amazon Echo listening to all of your bathroom activities) these appliances also work with the Kohler Konnect companion app for your smartphone.

  The royal throne of all household bathrooms, the toilet, is an extremely important piece which can make late night night trips a breeze and will impress all of your guests, with mundane, boring toilets. Kohler has designed a brand new, innovative and reliable toilet, the “Numi,” which allows for a manual, a motion-activated, and a voice-controlled flush for those with the Verdera mirror.

  That’s not all, though, the new top-of-the-line Kohler toilet comes complete with a heated toilet seat as well as front and rear washing and drying; furthermore, those who purchase this complete bathroom set receive a control panel, installed on the wall, allowing for 3 diverse ways of controlling your futuristic bathroom experience.

  Although the bathtub included in Kohler’s ingenuitive bathroom set does work with voice, as well as all other interface methods as the rest of the set, the more intriguing bathtub experience comes in the form of the “Toto floating tub,” which combines water jets along the floor of the tub with ambient lighting, in order to instill a feeling of floating through the cosmos.

  This tub will cost you a whopping $19,000 though, so the chances of owning one is fairly slim, but the concept is definitely more unique than just a tub you can talk to.

  Perhaps you would prefer spending exorbitant amounts of money to escape reality, in which case, CES 2018 has you covered.

  If the thought of buying parts and assembling your very own gaming computer sounds too expensive or too much of a hassle, you are in luck; the Blade Shadow is a subscription in which you gain access to a high-end Windows 10 laptop for $35/month which streams to whatever device you choose via wi-fi and the appropriate app.

  There is no physical parts (unless you purchase the external connection box for an extra $10/month), and so as long as you have an internet connection, you can access the computer from any device, anywhere.

  If, you don’t require an entire computer along with all of its programs and functions, but still wish to play video games and only own a $300 dollar laptop, Nvidia (a technological giant in the Graphical Processing Unit market) can assist you.

  GeForce Now allows you to play video games through the internet via streaming, practically removing the largest obstacle for dirt cheap and average laptops: the graphics card (formally known as the Graphical Processing Unit) which can cost anywhere from $200 (for old, but still relevant graphics) to $3,000.

  Very little is known about the streaming software and how it all operates but it is free for now (on a waitlist basis) and a monthly fee will be announced sometime later this year. The one and only restriction, as of now, is a requirement of at least 25 mbps internet connection, (although a 50 mbps is suggested) but out in rural areas such as Pahrump, 25 mbps is usually the fastest connection available. For those who are planning on living in cities, this could be a valuable asset for you.

   If the luxurious abodes, and virtual realities are not for you, someone who enjoys the more abroad lifestyle might enjoy tech displayed at CES 18 such as Intel’s “Volocopter” and the CX-1 suitcase, both of which make traveling a breeze.

  The CX-1 suitcase ensures you never have to lug your luggage anywhere, ever again! With facial recognition technology, the front camera is able to identify the owner and follow them at a max speed of 7 mph, and if the camera loses sight of the owner, a wristband on the user will be used to reunite with the owner.

  In the unfortunate incident that the bag is being stolen, ForwardX’s technology will alert the owner via the wristband, although whether or not the luggage will be trackable can only be assumed as of now.

  Maybe you don’t need your suitcase to follow you through a crowded airport, because you like to ride in style! Intel’s volocopter, referred to as the first autonomous passenger drone, debued at CES 2018 and demonstrated its aerial capabilities. It levitated from the ground, to which it was tethered, with no pilots in sight; welcome to the Ubers and taxis of the future!

  When I asked if passenger drones will come to be the dominant form of travel, Mr. Lightfoot urged that, “it is unlikely that one mode of transportation will ever completely replace another, stating that, “though the car has essentially replaced the horse in most capacities [but] some cities rely heavily on mass transit, bikes, buses, and pedestrian traffic.” which is commonplace in major cities like New York or L.A.

   CES allows the world a glimpse into the future, and we’ve been shown a future in which automation rules and computers are rented through subscriptions like Netflix and Hulu; whether or not smart toilets are the future, they’re the next step towards entirely voice activated houses which could prove to be a valuable asset to the next generation of homeowners.

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CES 2018