LAS VEGAS — From cleverly designed toys and wellness devices to alternative energy ideas and device virtualization software for the Internet of Things, International CES has got it. CES, which started out strictly as a tradeshow for dealers of audio/video and home entertainment systems, has become the annual make-or-break showcase for startups, software designers, and propeller-heads to test innovative product concepts, breakthrough technologies, and clever application ideas among fellow engineers, marketers, consumer electronics OEMs, and investors who gather here at the convention center.
The opening gadget salvo is called "CES Unveiled," a sort of indoor Maxwell Street for new technology and product ideas, all complicated by the presence of food tables and unlimited free alcohol. We don't know how many Unveiled newborns will be commercialized by the end of the year, let alone how big a commercial success any one might become.
Following is a sampling of the products (and sometimes prototypes) that caught our eye this year. (My colleague Jessica Lipsky here at CES also contributed to this story.)
Parrot offers toys as well designed as cars
Paris-based Parrot, always a crowd pleaser on the CES show floor, returned to show off the company's two new gadgets: its new-generation personal drone, called "Micro Drone," equipped with indoor wheels to roll on the floor or the ceiling; and a smartphone-controlled robotics device, "Jumping Sumo," that jumps 2.5 feet in the air but always lands on its wheels.
Demonstrating his new toys, Henri Seydoux (second from the right in the photo above), the founder and CEO of Parrot, told EE Times: "These are not quick gadgets. They are toys that are as serious and as well designed as cars."
Indeed, they are robust. Parrot's new Micro Drone comes with an unprecedented automatic stabilization system. Jumping Sumo, with embedded camera, can even make 90 degree turns at high speed, while its foldable wheels control speed and enable tricky moves.
Parrot's Jumping Sumo.