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CES 2019: First Impressions of the New Tech

CES 2019: First Impressions of the New Tech

Here’s a sampling of some of the novel devices and technology on display at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.

The Consumer Electronics Show is massive and the number of new products and technologies is mind-boggling. There are plenty of self-driving cars and related technologies, the last crop of smartphones and tablets, plus more augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) than you can shake a stick at. I’ll be covering some of those and other technologies in more detail, but here are a few out-of-the-ordinary innovations to get you started.

JARVISH X-AR Helmet

The JARVISH X-AR (Fig. 1) is a Kickstarter project that’s a “Distraction-free, voice-activated, and retractable head-up display powered by the latest AR tech & critical information so you never take your eyes off the road.” It has a carbon fiber shell plus 2K pixel front and rear camera to provide a 360-degree view. The system uses a retractable, optical waveguide display for camera and AR views.

1. The JARVISH X-AR uses augmented reality (AR) to provide riders with a head-up display (HUD).

The helmet features Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. Incorporated into the system is 16 GB of flash storage, which can be increased to 256 GB, to capture video input. The system is voice-enabled with noise reduction to improve recognition. It supports most voice assistants including Amazon Alexa, Apple Sir, and OK Google. A tap-to-talk switch allows support for additional services. Voice commands can be used to adjust most functions and services, such as volume levels.

The system is able to provide feedback about location and movement plus navigation support. It takes advantage of HERE Technologies’ map and navigation services.

“We are delighted to be working with JARVISH by providing high-quality map data and location services for such an innovative product like the Smart Helmets. As connectivity and location intelligence grows in importance, our partnership will ensure even two-wheelers can access and benefit from HERE mapping and location services.” said Leon van de Pas, SVP and General Manager APAC at HERE Technologies.

There’s also a JARVISH X version without the AR support, but with a rear-view camera. The JARVISH X is priced at $699, while the AR version is $1599. The first-generation helmets have been used by Taiwanese police officers to help in their duties, which includes communication with the central office and gathering evidence.

Flexible E-Paper

E Ink’s displays have been used in e-readers and for advertising since they came out with the technology. Most displays run greyscale, although color is available. The technology is very low power and has the advantage of retaining its contents when power is removed. Low-power LCD/LED technologies have improved, but E Ink’s displays still beat them hands down when it comes to power requirements.

2. E Ink’s JustWrite film is flexible and easy to draw on.

The latest technology from E Ink is called JustWrite (Fig. 2). Like many other E Ink displays, it’s flexible and comes in rolls. The big difference is the way it works with a stylus. It has the feel of pencil or pen on real paper as well as the performance necessary for real-time updates. Fast screen updates have been a challenge for older technology.

JustWrite retains the advantages of its predecessors, including low-power operation and retention of the display when power is removed. This advance is likely to change the way people look at e-readers. It’s unlikely to replace a 4K LED display, but laptops and 2-in-1’s with secondary E Ink displays are becoming more common.

The Lenovo Yogo Book actually uses an E Ink display for the keyboard. The keyboard interface leverages haptic feedback. A JustWrite version would be interesting for note taking. The Yoga Book can already capture pen input with a piece of paper over the keyboard display, providing a hardcopy.

A Programmer’s Robot

Misty Robotics has a cute platform designed for developers called the Misty II (Fig. 3). It incorporates the latest 4K cameras with depth-sense support, time-of-flight range sensors around the perimeter, and an LCD display with two hi-fi speakers. It also has a far-field microphone array. There two Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs in the robot—a 410 with 8 GB of flash and an 820 with 32 GB of flash. The 820 runs Windows 10 Core and the other runs Android. The latter handles navigation.

3. Misty II is an advanced personal robot designed for developers.

The robot runs on a set of treads. There’s a trailer hitch in case you want to attach something behind the robot. The neck has three degrees of freedom (3DOF), allowing the display and main sensors to focus on people or objects.

A visual programming tool like Blockly can be used to program the robot. Programmers can also utilize Javascript or Python. The SDK exposes low-level APIs to enable advanced software developers.

The system can handle chores like face detection and recognition, text-to-speech, as well as other audio processing chores. Wireless communication includes 2.4/5-GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

Low Cost Cortex-A for Soundbars

I normally check out the latest chips that are shown in the backrooms, and this time is no exception. One of NXP’s latest offerings is the i.MX 8M Mini SoC (Fig. 4) designed to bring immersive audio support to soundbars that don’t break the bank.

4. NXP’s i.MX 8M Mini reference design targets low-cost, high-performance audio soundbars.

The i.MX 8M Mini SoC has a Cortex-A at its heart, but it incorporates support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X without the need for a dedicated DSP. These features are typically found in high-end systems with corresponding prices. However, this Immersiv3D audio solution delivers smart-home, surround-sound functionality in an affordable package.

“Dolby Atmos takes your favorite entertainment to the next level with breathtaking immersive audio,” said Mahesh Balakrishnan, Vice President, Enhanced Audio Experiences, Dolby Laboratories. “With Dolby Atmos supported on NXP’s Immersiv3D audio solution, we are providing our OEM partners the tools to make Dolby Atmos experiences more accessible.”

“The Immersiv3D solution decodes the DTS:X audio signal and recreates the placement and movement of sound exactly as intended,” said Joanna Skrdlant, General Manager, Home Audio & Solutions Licensing, DTS. “Products enabled with DTS:X technology create multi-dimensional audio, so sound can move freely for incredible immersive audio experiences in consumer living rooms. DTS:X technology adapts to the speaker layout to best fit the individual consumer space by seamlessly transporting sound to and through specific locations within the viewing environment—in front of, behind, above, and beside the audience. We’re happy to work with NXP to make the DTS:X experience even more accessible to our customers.”

Key to the solution’s performance is low-latency audio decode and pre/post-processing support. The single-chip solution can handle multichannel AEC with beamforming. Its input processing handles multiple voices with support for the major voice-control services.

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