CES 2017: World's Largest Tech Show Looks Beyond Smart at New Realities

The mega-extravaganza of the tech world in Las Vegas is showcasing an array of new devices that get smarts from computer chips, sensors and artificial intelligence, but go further by opening doors to augmented or virtual realities.

The Consumer Electronics Show, which begins with a series of media events Tuesday will offer trade professionals a look at new robotics, connected cars and a dizzying assortment of gizmos from connected sneakers to drones.

This year’s show will see results of a boost in computing power from artificial intelligence, which can help power things like autonomous cars, and deliver new experiences such as augmented or virtual reality.

“Virtual reality is changing the game for a variety of industries including health care, agriculture, manufacturing and business,” said Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Technology Association that organizes the annual show, in a Reddit chat.

“Doctors are using VR to enhance traditional therapies, architects use VR to design stronger buildings and travel agencies are using it to simplify vacation planning.”

CES will celebrate its 50th anniversary at the gathering, and organizers promised it would have the largest showcase of VR technology ever.

One CES panel discussion will examine how virtual reality is transforming television, movies and even news with immersive forms of video.

A host of virtual reality experiences will entice attendees at the trade-only show.

CES 2017: World's Largest Tech Show Looks Beyond Smart at New Realities

Cars will feature virtual reality displays to provide a better sense of the environment around them, while similar technologies will be showcased for smart glasses, medicine and beauty makeovers.

Enhancing reality
Robin Raskin, who heads the Living in Digital Times center of the show, said augmented reality is catching on with try-and-see beauty apps, in-store virtual mirrors and toys.

Augmented reality, she said, “lets us look at the real world and add valuable, entertaining and immersive information to it.”

Analyst Jack Gold at J. Gold Associates said that despite the potential benefits of virtual and augmented reality in business or industry, “gaming is where it is going to take off first,” because that’s where people are spending money.

“The issue is not whether it has the potential to transform things, but whether you can put it into a space where consumers can afford it and give enough additional information so people are able to use it,” Gold said.

CES is among the world’s biggest trade shows, and last year drew 177,000 attendees over exhibit space of 2.47 million square feet (230,000 square meters). This year, 150 countries will be represented.

It will include big industry names such as Sony, LG and Samsung in electronics, with the perennial battle to have the sleekest most gorgeous television screen.

(Also see: Samsung Unveils CH711 Curved Quantum Dot Monitor for Gamers Ahead of CES 2017)

 

Meanwhile, in attendance will be more than 600 startups from 33 countries, including first-time participants – the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Ukraine.

Auto-industry titans including Ford and BMW are increasingly using CES to show off technology packed into vehicles for efficiency, safety, entertainment and navigation.

Race for autonomy
The show will feature demonstrations of autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles, including one from Japan’s Honda said to be equipped with an artificial intelligence “emotion engine” that aims to better understand its occupants.

Electric car startup Faraday Future, one of several manufacturers taking on Tesla, is expected to unveil its first production car a year after showing a prototype.

Renault-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn has promised to discuss “a major technological breakthrough in the realization of a zero-emission, zero-fatality world for everyone,” according to a statement from CES organizers.

Humanoid robots
The show is also expected to feature advances in robotics, with more human-like robots and the public debut of “Professor Einstein” from Hanson Robotics.

Getting a boost from artificial intelligence, some new robots at the show will keep an eye on the kids, play chess or help with homework.

Gold said he expects to see a large number of drones looking for a slice of a surging market.

“This is really the year of the drone, and everybody is trying to get into this market,” he said.

But he added that the strongest potential for drones may be with businesses, with uses including aerial photography.

On the smartphone front, South Korea’s LG will show a range of new “mid-range” handsets and China’s Huawei has a smartphone event scheduled. TCL, the Chinese firm which owns the Alcatel brand, will unveil new BlackBerry handsets following its deal for the troubled Canadian brand.

(Also see: BlackBerry Mercury aka DTEK70 Tipped to Launch With Snapdragon 625 SoC at CES 2017)

The show floor will see a host of new and improved connected home technologies that manage everything from light bulbs to refrigerators.

“We’re pretty close on things like the smart home, where we’re going to get up one day and everybody is going to speak to their refrigerators,” said NPD analyst Stephen Baker.

Carolina Milanesi of the consultancy Creative Strategies said 2016 “has seen material progress” in some new technologies that will result in products hitting the marketplace, even though not all will be hits.

“In some cases, it’s because the consumers weren’t really asking for it,” she said.

Asus ROG Zephyrus Launched as 'World's Slimmest Gaming Laptop With GeForce GTX 1080' at Computex 2017

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Oppo F3 is priced at 19,990
  • It was launched earlier this month in India
  • The Black Edition will be launched on June 4

Apart from a host of laptops and tablets, Asus has also amped up its Republic of Gamers product lineup at Computex 2017 in Taipei. This includes the “world’s slimmest gaming laptop with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080”, the Asus ROG Zephyrus (GX501VI), and a new ROG Swift PG35VQ gaming monitor as well. At the ROG Computex event, Asus also unveiled a colourful Strix Fusion headset and a slick USB monitor called ZenScreen as well.

Asus ROG Zephyrus Launched as 'World's Slimmest Gaming Laptop With GeForce GTX 1080' at Computex 2017

Starting with the big news, Asus’s ROG Zephyrus is a laptop built for gamers and is thinner than all the ROG laptops launched before. It boasts of high-end gaming hardware with support for Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics, seventh generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor, an optional 120Hz wide-view display, and it ships with the latest Windows 10 Creators Update. During intensive gaming sessions, Asus claims the ROG Zephyrus maintains its temperature with a new ‘Active Aerodynamic System’ air-flow design crammed into a 16.9 -17.9mm chassis. Asus claims that this new flexible system allows for 20 percent more airflow than before. The laptop weighs only 2.2kgs, and sports of a RGB keyboard as well.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p01VA7qZnfE?ecver=2]

The ROG Zephyrus’ display is at 15.6-inch (1920×1080 pixels) and supports up to 24GB of DDR4 RAM. The laptop offers 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB of M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD storage options. Ports include a Thunderbolt 3 Type-C, four USB 3.1 Type-A, HDMI 2.0 (for VR), and a 3.5mm headset opening. With respect to the keyboard design, the buttons are moved up front for better cooling management and make it feel more like a desktop system. The keyboard, as mentioned, has RGB lightning, and features anti-ghosting keys that can support up to 30 keys pressed at the same time.

 

Asus has launched two variants of the ROG Zephyrus, however, it does not properly specify the differences in the two, though one variant is speculated to downgrade the graphics to a GeForce GTX 1070 card. The ROG Zephyrus GX501VI variant is priced starting at $2699 (roughly Rs. 174,200) and the ROG Zephyrus GX501VS variant is priced starting at $2299 (roughly Rs. 148,400). Both the variants will be available at the end of June in the USA and Canada.

At the ROG event, Asus also launched the ROG Swift PG35VQ gaming monitor that has a quantum dot 3440×1440 pixels LCD display with HDR support. The refresh rate is pegged at an impressive 200Hz and it comes with G-sync support. There’s no word on pricing or availability. Alongside, Asus also launched the Strix Fusion headset with lights that can be configured to blink in sync with your fellow gamer. This is expected to ship sometime in the third quarter.

Lastly, it also launched a 15.6-inch 1080p USB monitor called ZenScreen. It comes with a pen to prop up the monitor, but do note that the ZenScreen does not have a touchscreen display nor does it support stylus. The ZenScreen is priced at $249 (roughly Rs. 16,000), and will launch in Taiwan first, with other markets to follow eventually.

Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen Rolls Out World's Largest Aeroplane, the Stratolaunch

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Microsoft’s Paul Allen has been building world’s largest aeroplane
  • It is called Stratolaunch, will be larger than Howard Hughes’ 1947 plane
  • It’s not to carry passengers, but rather rockets

The initial construction on the massive aeroplane Paul Allen has been quietly building in the California desert is complete, and the vehicle, which would be the world’s largest aeroplane with a wingspan wider than Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose, was wheeled out of its hangar for the first time on Wednesday.

Called Stratolaunch, the plane has some impressive stats: a wingspan of 385 feet, or longer than a football field, a height of 50 feet. Unfueled, it weighs 500,000 pounds. But it can carry 250,000 pounds of fuel, and its total weight can reach as high as 1.3 million pounds.

Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen Rolls Out World's Largest Aeroplane, the Stratolaunch

But, really . . .. How big is it? It’s so big that it has 28 wheels and six 747 jet engines. It’s so big that it has 60 miles of wire coursing through it. It’s so big that the county had to issue special construction permits just for the construction scaffolding.

It’s so big that to truly get a sense of it, you have to see it from a distance – like a mountain.

But why is Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft and owner of the Seattle Seahawks, building such a massive plane?

It’s not to carry passengers, but rather rockets. The bigger the plane, the larger the rockets, or the greater the number.

Allen’s Stratolaunch company has partnered with Orbital ATK to “air launch” the company’s Pegasus XL, a rocket capable of delivering small satellites, weighing as much as 1,000 pounds, to orbit. The rockets would be tethered to the belly of the giant plane, which would fly them aloft, and once at an altitude of 35,000 feet or so, the rockets would drop and “air launch” to space.

 

“With airport-style operations and quick turn-around capabilities,” the company said it believes “air launch” is a cheaper and more efficient way to get satellites into space than rockets that launch vertically and can be extraordinarily expensive.

For Allen, it’s all about LEO, or low-Earth orbit. He, and others, such as Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit, are betting that they can reduce the cost of launching small satellites to space. And that, in turn, will lead to new ways to beam the internet all across the globe, provide better Earth sensing capabilities, better communication, and open up all sorts of avenues.

“When such access to space is routine, innovation will accelerate in ways beyond what we can currently imagine,” Allen said in a statement a year ago. “That’s the thing about new platforms: when they become easily available, convenient and affordable, they attract and enable other visionaries and entrepreneurs to realize more new concepts.”

More than a decade ago, Allen had hoped to spark a revolution in space travel when he funded SpaceShipOne, which became the first commercial vehicle to cross the threshold of space. The project ultimately won the Ansari X Prize, and a $10 million (roughly Rs. 64.5 crores) award. He then licensed the technology to Branson and moved on to other pursuits. But with Stratolaunch, he is back in the space business.

“Thirty years ago, the PC revolution put computing power into the hands of millions and unlocked incalculable human potential,” he wrote. “Twenty years ago, the advent of the Web and the subsequent proliferation of smartphones combined to enable billions of people to surmount the traditional limitations of geography and commerce. Today, expanding access to LEO holds similar revolutionary potential.”

In a statement Wednesday, Jean Floyd, Stratolaunch’s chief executive, said the company would be “actively exploring a broad spectrum of launch vehicles that will enable us to provide more flexibility to customers.”

He added: “Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be actively conducting ground and flightline testing at the Mojave Air and Space Port. This is a first-of-its-kind aircraft, so we’re going to be diligent throughout testing and continue to prioritize the safety of our pilots, crew and staff. Stratolaunch is on track to perform its first launch demonstration as early as 2019.”

Molecular Black Hole Created Using World's Most Powerful Laser

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Scientists created a molecular black hole consisting of heavy atoms
  • It was done with the help of a strong X-ray laser beam
  • Unlike the real black hole, molecular version lets electrons out again

Scientists, using the world’s most powerful X-ray laser, have successfully created a molecular black hole consisting of heavy atoms that suck electrons from their neighbours.

Researchers from Kansas State University in the US successfully used short pulses of ultra-intense high-energy X-rays to produce a detailed picture of how X-ray radiation interacts with molecules.

This was the first time this kind of extreme light has been used to break up molecules, and it may help understand the damages from X-ray radiation when it is used to take an X-ray picture, researchers said.

Molecular Black Hole Created Using World's Most Powerful Laser

The team shot iodomethane (CH3I) and iodobenzene (C6H5I) molecules with a powerful X-ray beam.

“As this powerful X-ray light hits a molecule, the heaviest atom, the iodine, absorbs a few hundred times more X-rays than all the other atoms,” said Artem Rudenko, assistant professor at Kansas State University.

“Then, most of its electrons are stripped away, creating a large positive charge on the iodine,” Rudenko said.

“The X-ray laser is the most powerful in the world with an intensity of 100 quadrillion kilowatts per square centimetre,” Rudenko said.

 

The positive charge that was created steadily pulls electrons from the other atoms in the molecule, which fills the created vacancies like a short-lived black hole, researchers said.

Unlike the real black hole, the molecular version lets the electrons out again. They are stripped away in a few femtoseconds.

“The cycle repeats itself until the molecule explodes” said Daniel Rolles assistant professor at Kansas State University.

“In total, 54 of iodomethane’s 62 electrons were ejected in this experiment, far more than we anticipated based on earlier studies using less intense X-rays. In addition, the larger molecule, iodobenzene, loses even more electrons,” he said.

Ultra-intense X-rays give a new and efficient tool to image biological particles, such as proteins and viruses, with high resolution, researchers said.

“Based on our findings, we can predict what will happen in larger systems,” Rolles said.

The study was published in the journal Nature.

Logitech Introduces World's First Wireless Charging Mousepad, Two New Gaming Mice

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Powerplay mousepad will continually charge your wireless mouse
  • Logitech G903 and G703 wireless gaming mouse also announced
  • Powerplay is will cost around $100 (roughly Rs. 6,433)

While we’ve been distracted by the benefits of wireless charging technology for smartphones, Logitech has found a very practical use for it in the form of a mousepad. The Logitech G Powerplay is the world’s first wireless charging system for gaming mice, which is being launched alongside two new flagship gaming mice Logitech G903 and G703. The Logitech Powerplay is priced around $100 (roughly Rs. 6,433) and will be available some time in August, while the Logitech G903 and G703 wireless gaming mice are priced at $150 (roughly Rs. 9,650) and $100, respectively and will be available in June. India pricing and availability are yet to be known.

Logitech Introduces World's First Wireless Charging Mousepad, Two New Gaming Mice

Logitech G, a brand of Logitech, says that Powerplay is a departure from existing wireless charging standards and is designed to deliver uninterrupted charging over surface of the mousepad, which essentially means your wireless mouse will constantly be charged when in use. The wireless charging system uses an application of electromagnetic resonance that creates an energy field on the surface of the 275x320mm mousepad. Notably, the company also says that this will not hamper or cause any interference with the mouse’s functionality.

“For decades, we’ve pioneered development in wireless gaming, and our new Powerplay and Lightspeed wireless technologies continue this commitment to wireless superiority,” said Ujesh Desai, vice president and general manager of Logitech G. “With Powerplay, Lightspeed and our new G903 and G703 mice, you’ll get unbeatable precision, lag-free performance and infinite power, which gives gamers the highest-quality experience.”

logitech g903 mouse logitech

The new Powerplay mousepad is accompanied with two new wireless gaming mice, Logitech G903 and G703. Logitech says the mice come equipped with PMW3366 optical sensor which has zero smoothing, filtering or acceleration across the entire DPI range (200-12,000 DPI) for accurate tracking and consistent responsiveness, even at speeds over 400 IPS.

In terms of looks, the mice have a pretty intimidating body design with advanced mechanical button tensioning that give the left and right mouse buttons a good feel, response and consistency. The buttons are also more durable with up to 50 million click switches. Despite its solid feel, the mice have been designed to give a perfect grip, with rubber grips on either sides for greater control. Gamers can assign the buttons with custom game commands using Logitech Gaming Software (LGS).

Lastly, at the heart of both the Powerplay mousepad and the gaming mice is Logitech G’s Lightspeed wireless technology that delivers competition-level responsiveness at speeds faster than many competitive wired gaming mice.