As part of our strategy to move to an ‘innovation by default’ mind-set at Carat, we’re exploring how our friends across the globe approach working in different and better ways. We are building relationships with our colleagues in other offices by creating pairings, digitally and physically, across our network. These include collaborative digital communities and working trips where our team spend time in our other offices. Chrystal Ding is one of these intrepid travellers, and is currently spending a month with Clarity – our innovation team in China, and has visited CES Asia. Here is her report from the event.

Chrystal Ding Strategic Innovation Director London CES Asia 2016 innovation

This year’s CES Asia - the second of its kind - is in Shanghai and showcases the breadth of innovation in Asia. While the show floor isn’t as large as the one in Las Vegas, it has doubled in size since last year, and hosts an impressive array of Asian tech developments, some familiar and others not.

VR/AR domination

It seemed that everywhere I looked somebody was locked into a VR headset. With the biggest and boldest booths flaunting VR through gaming – Alibaba, Hi-Sense, The Choice VR, and Pico Neo – it could be easy to overlook some of the more nuanced examples. For example, BVRAIN by Isobar’s NOWLab had me playing a game with a headset where VR met with neuro-sensing tech. I had to focus my attention in order to hit moving coloured blobs in space, which were generated based upon my emotions.

Dlodlo has made a slick pair of VR glasses called V ONE. Sadly, they didn’t have a pair there to demo. Whilst it may still be a while before VR reaches mass consumption, gaming appears to remain its best hope of getting into the consumer market.

Friendly, household robots

“Do you like it?” a Sharp employee asked me as I watched little RoBoHon do a dance. I did. “Why do you like it?” he asked. Because RoBoHon - a 19.5cm tall robot smartphone that walks and talks - is adorable. He was designed to be ‘kawaii’, and is possessed of the combined functions of a smartphone and - thanks to a degree of machine learning - a tiny assistant. If this is how the future of robotics is packaged, I have a feeling I’ll be fine with it. Robots appeared as friendly, neighbourhood presences, designed to make your life better or at least more entertaining.

Meet Sphero’s app-enabled smart toy BB-8, which got its first wave of publicity last year prior to the launch of the Star Wars film, or the printable, open-source plen2 robot that mimics your actions, or Ecovacs Robotics’ surface-cleaners. Nothing to be scared of…yet. 

The trinity of the smart human

Connected homes, connected cars, connected everything. The trinity of the smart human - according to Chinese retail giant Suning - consists of the smart home, smart security, and smart health. With everything in sync, collecting your data, learning about and anticipating your needs, the objective is to make your life easier, safer, and happier. Companies offered to cover a range of needs from smart door locks by DDing to the full home ecosystem where your lights, speakers, security systems and even your flowerpot 'talk' to each other, provided by the likes of Wulian (‘wireless’ in Chinese) and Oomi. And, for your out of home options, there's always Yunmake’s connected smart bikes.

3D printing

I have to admit that using Future Make’s Polyes Q1 3D printing pen was probably the most fun I had because the results are so tangible (there’s a small 3D printed man sitting on my desk right now.) There were at least 16 3D printing exhibitors, including Intel, and 3D printing had its own product category listing in the exhibition catalogue. What makes it such an interesting category is that it spans everything from drawing 3D stick men to specialised manufacturing and the reproduction of moving body parts for amputees. 3D printing certainly has a diverse future ahead.

Drones, drones, drones…

It’s not altogether clear who these are being aimed at, or what the use - beyond entertainment and racing - the consumer-owned drone would be of, but drones of all shapes and sizes were out in full throttle.

The smallest I saw could fit in the palm of a man’s hand, and the largest could deliver goods. But many of them were pre-fitted with cameras and video recording equipment so seemed to fit into the broader proliferation of tech that facilitates documentation. Along with 360-degree video and 360-degree smartphone extension packs, these are already seeing credible use in the world of news reporting.

But of everything I saw, my personal favourite has to be the COWA robot, a suitcase that follows you along remotely by way of a tracking bracelet. It’s my favourite because it solves a genuine problem in a very intuitive and well-conceived way (and because I could definitely do with one of those for the flight back to London).



Chrystal Ding Strategic Innovation Director London CES Asia 2016 innovation
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