CES 2018: Where are they now?

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 There are tons of products and companys vying for our attention during the chaos and bustle of the CES, the annual consumer electronics trade show held every January in Las Vegas. But whether or not those products actually hit store shelves by the end of the year — or any year — is a different question altogether. Some ‘concept products’ appear in various forms year after year. Others are never seen again after the show ends. And some you can actually buy before Christmas.

So with CES 2019 just under a month away, we decided to revisit some of our favorites from the last show and see where they fell on the spectrum: Are they vaporware, can you buy them now — or are they somewhere in between? 

Aibo, the robot dog from Sony

Status: Released, albeit in limited quantities 

After putting its first robot dog to sleep in 2006, Sony tried again at CES 2018 with a more natural-moving, AI-powered dog. Still named Aibo, the robo-pet barked, identified and interacted with family members and walked around. It featured 4,000 parts, 22 actuators and eyes made out of OLED screens. At the time, you could only get it in Japan for roughly $1,760, £1,300 or AU$2,250.

In August Sony announced it would sell Aibo in the US for a staggering $2,899. Orders placed during September were part of the limited ‘First Litter Edition,’ which included a three-year AI Cloudplan, a pink ball, a bone-shaped accessory, paw pads, a charging station and an individually numbered dog tag.

Since January 2018, Sony sold over 20,000 Aibos in Japan. And last month CNET’s Bridget Carey spent a week living with the dog. She witnessed her ‘two-year-old daughter fall in love with a new friend … skeptical senior citizens crack smiles and forget their troubles,’ and real dogs ‘not so impressed with the whole spectacle.’

NeoFect’s NeoMano robotic glove

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Status: Funded on IndieGoGo, scheduled for 2019 release

Developed by a South Korean company, the NeoMano was a leather glove featuring titanium wires and a controller. It was designed for people with spinal cord injuries who experienced hand paralysis, and aimed to improve their flexibility and dexterity.

After CES, the glove went through another prototype iteration and further patient tests, until it landed on a final version model in August. By October, NeoFect launched an IndieGoGo campaign to raise money, reaching 100 percent of its goal on Dec. 10.

The glove will fully retail for $1,999, but interested buyers have until Dec. 28 to back the IndieGoGo project and receive a NeoMano glove at 80 percent off the price (that’s $399). Neofect reports that it will deliver the NeoMano by summer of 2019.

LG‘s rollable OLED TV

LG Display 65 inch Rollable OLED TV

Status: Still just a concept 

Perhaps one of the most eye-catching demos on the show floor was an LG 4K TV. The 64-inch TV had a flexible, paper-thin display and it rolled into a tube that could fit inside a box the size of a sound bar. The TV was an iteration of a smaller, 18-inch TV that showed up at CES 2016.

The rollable TV was more of a ‘proof of concept’ and LG didn’t offer any details about its pricing, availability or even product name. It seems as if not much has changed on the consumer end since then. As of December, LG stated that are ‘no updates at this point’ about the TV. Bummer.

HTC Vive Pro

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Status: Released and available

The Vive Pro was a VR system that needed a high-end PC and a cable attaching the two together. But as an update to 2016’s HTC Vive, the Pro had a sharper, more higher-resolution display, built-in headphones and a redesigned headstrap.

In March, HTC announced the Vive Pro would go on sale on April 5 for $799 (roughly AU$1,040 or £575 converted). However, that price only included the headset, not the controllers or base stations. If you wanted those required accessories, a controller cost $130 separately, and each base station is $135.

HTC later offered a Vive Pro Starter Kit bundle that included the headset, two first-generation controllers and two first-gen base stations for $1,099. There was also a Vive Pro Full Kit with second-gen controllers that briefly went on sale during this year’s Black Friday.

Merge’s AR toy gun, the 6DoF Blaster

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Status: Not yet available for sale

CNET’s Scott Stein called this one of his favorite things at CES 2018. The Merge Blaster is like an AR Nerf Gun, and it lets you play Laser Tag with your iOS or Android phone. The gun also allows players six degrees of freedom and tracks movement, meaning you can duck, aim and walk around quickly.

Exact timing, price and availability is still unknown, and Merge didn’t immediately reply for a request to comment. In March, TechRadar had a chance to check out a pre-production model and said it hoped that the device would launch ‘later in the year.’ That doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen so for now, you can settle for a Merge AR cube, a headset or some shirts at its online store.

Whirlpool‘s Smart Over-the-Range microwave

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Status: Released and available

Whirlpool’s Wi-Fi connected microwave works with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa to offer hands-free voice controls while you’re cooking in the kitchen. It also features a touchscreen control panel, a helpful scan-to-cook tool and 1.9 cubic feet of cooking space.

You can buy it now for $539 to $639, depending on the color.

Byton shared experience display

Byton M-byte interior

Status: Coming in 2019

Not only were we impressed by Chinese electric car maker Byton’s M-Byte concept SUV in general, but its cabin, which featured a 49-inch LCD dashboard display, wowed us too. The screen, which the company calls its Shared Experience Display, can be viewed by all passengers. And when the car switches to autonomous mode, the display can show entertainment content in addition to driving info.

Byton demoed the same car and its display at MWC Shanghai in June and in August, the company began to test drive the car on tracks located in Nanjing, China, under real-world traffic conditions. Byton aims to kick off production of the M-Byte by Fall 2019.

Razer‘s Project Linda 

Status: Still just a concept (for now) 

Razer’s concept device, known as Project Linda, was really two devices in one. The company combined a 13-inch laptop, one similar to its current Razer Blade Stealth, and its Razer Phone to make a single laptop. The phone’s processor powered both devices and its screen acted as the laptop’s trackpad or as a second screen.

In June, Asus introduced a similar product called the ZenBook Pro. It cost $2,299 and featured a 15-inch 4K laptop and a 5.5-inch phone. Razer hasn’t announced any recent developments about Project Linda, and didn’t immediately reply for a request to comment. It did, however, release the Razer Phone 2 in October. Because it’s got the same dimensions as the original Razer Phone, its lead some to believe the Linda Project is still happening.

PowerSpot transmitter 

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Status: Available, but more intended for niche commercial applications rather than consumer use

The PowerSpot transmitter powers devices like keyboards, remotes and wearables wirelessly. And when it says wirelessly, it means wirelessly — there are no charging mats here. The transmitter works by emitting radio frequency energy on a certain band. Special receivers inside other devices convert that radio energy into direct current, which power the devices and charge their batteries. The PowerSpot promises to charge up to 30 devices as far as 80 feet away.

You can purchase the PowerSpot for $100 from certain distributors, which includes a power cord and a USB wall outlet adapter. The company also plans to sell a development kit for $400.

Acer Swift 7 

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Status:  Released and available

When it debuted at CES 2018, Acer billed its 14-inch Acer 7 laptop as the thinnest laptop in the world. The device’s profile measured just 8.98mm and it started at $1,699 or £1,599 (roughly AU$2,765). It hit, more or less exactly as envisioned, in the summer of 2018. When CNET’s Dan Ackerman reviewed it in August, he said the laptop ‘feel[s] like the rare high-design ultraportable you can really use all day long.’

 

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