Las Vegas is a strange place, filled with many, many strange things. In that sense, there is no better place to host the Consumer Electronics Show.
CES is where strange products meet the world—this is where the Smart Toilet was launched, where TVs first grew curves, where cameras sprouted wings, and reality was made virtual.
There is plenty of that this year, of course. But for my first day, I tried to skip the weird stuff. Instead, I sought out the products that hit the industrial world—solutions that cross the consumer divide with potentially game-changing advances for manufacturers.
That's not exactly the classic CES story, sure. But at this point of hyper-connectivity and sensor-laden everything, the consumer and industrial technologies are really starting to blur. That was easy to see as soon as I hit the floor.
So here it goes:
Bosch Rexroth: Easy IoT
CES 2017-as you would expect—is an IoT wonderland. Booth after booth, device after device, this whole sprawling conference is a ballad to the power and potential of connectivity. However, for many manufacturers out there, harnessing this potential can seem daunting, to put it mildly. Bosch Rexroth, however, is out to change this impression.
Running under the battle cry, "Simply. Connected." the company is out there showing how painless IoT solutions can really be.
Case in point: the Industry 4.0 Jump Start Kit.
This device, priced under $100, is stuffed with eight sensors to measure pressure, position, vibration, temperature, humidity, and every other conceivable data point, all of it tracked and recorded through Bluetooth low energy connections. The device is sensitive enough to detect the pressure difference of a few inches of altitude or the slightest shake, shimmy, or temperature change. Which means, you can literally set this on top of a machine on the floor and, boom, it's part of the IoT. As simple as it gets.
Panasonic: Steady as It Goes
Sure, it’s a cup on a rolly egg, but this one has some serious industrial tech behind it.
Panasonic's "Motion Sensing Unit" is equipped with an acceleration sensor and gyro sensor to keep industrial robots and heavy equipment even and steady, no matter what they encounter. This means, for example, a heavy cart on an AGV can transport its good safely even if they are incorrectly or unevenly stacked or if they hit an unexpected bump.
The big news yesterday at Panasonic was the beginning of production at the Gigafactory for its traditional 2170 battery cells. But the company has some other fancy tricks up its sleeves as well.
Here's a good one: a flexible, twistable lithium-ion battery built for wearables, embedded systems, and a seemingly infinite list of possible applications. It's exactly the kind of future I'm looking for here.