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CES Touts an Interconnected Universe

Tech advances in drones, wireless audio conferencing and VR gear highlighted the show

Screens captured the imagination: this synchronized display of curved 4K monitors was on display at CES 2016 by the manufacturer LG.

LAS VEGAS – The 2016 CES show in Las Vegas was a treasure trove of interconnected and bleeding-edge technology, from drones with 4K camera capability to audio conferencing technology to virtual reality gear with a military bent.

This year’s show proved to be the most expansive CES in history, with more than 170,000 attendees in attendance from Jan. 6-9 in Las Vegas. And it showed—lines for press conferences and popular sessions snaked down hallways, and more than one exhibitor was caught snoozing on the ground in the queue waiting to get a seat. Those seats were near impossible to find—a large number of sessions were standing-room-only affairs, thanks to a healthy showing of both U.S. and international visitors: more than 50,000 attendees from 150 countries flew into CES this year.

The BYRD portable quadcopter drone

The show floor was just as expansive. This year CES was spread across more than 2.47 million square feet in not one, not two, but three different locations: the Las Vegas Convention Center, Sands Expo Center and the Venetian hotel. Buses that shuttled attendees from one location to another were packed. For the first time—and to the chagrin of the taxi cab chorus—Uber and Lyft were providing transportation options for attendees to keep up with demand.

The range of technology at CES was just as expansive: robots powered by app-enabled mobile devices in one aisle, 4K camera drones in another. Technology weaved in through the automotive industry space and back into unmanned systems; into wearables and back into 3D printing. An “Extreme Tech Challenge” on the third day of the show narrowed down three semi-finalists from a field of more than 1,000 companies, including a new 360-degree HD camera called the Giroptic, for a chance to be crowned the best tech in its field.

“It was awe-inspiring to see traditional and non-traditional ‘tech’ industries meet to brainstorm, partner and collaborate on ways to do business and address global issues,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which sponsors the annual show. “Technology now touches every facet of our lives, from improving our workouts and the way we sleep, to keeping us safe on the roads and in our homes and even preventing or treating illnesses.”

Policy makers were also in attendance at CES, including Federal Aviation Administrator Michael Huerta, who announced that more than 181,000 people have registered their small drones with the agency since the new federal registration system was created just before Christmas 2015. To reiterate the need to fly safe when using a drone, Huerta highlighted the new FAA app, B4UFLY, which helps unmanned aircraft operators determine whether there are any restrictions or requirements in effect at the location where they want to fly.

Some technology highlights: a portable drone that can fold up and be stored in a backpack, a 2-inch cube shaped LCOS laser-based pico projector, virtual reality pods, a wireless broadcasting speaker for audio conferencing use and a bevy of 4K curved TVs.

Portable drone – The BYRD is a portable quadcopter drone from Prodrone Technology, based in Shenzhen, China. The arms, propellers and landing gear of the BYRD can be collapsed into an iPad-sized package that can fit into a standard case or backpack. The drone features a universal platform that supports a number of different cameras, including GoPro gimbal cameras, small HD and 4K cameras, or infrared models.

PanoDome wireless broadcasting speaker

Mini HD pico projector – A mini projector that offers the triumvirate of high resolution, brightness and small size, the UO Smart Beam Laser from SK Telecom uses laser diodes to drive the LCOS engine. The projector connects wirelessly to a smart phone, laptop, tablet PC or other mobile device using a built-in HDMI port. The projector includes a built-in speaker or can be connected to an external audio device.

Wireless broadcast conferencing speaker – The PanoDome wireless broadcasting speaker from the OPCOM Group is a broadcasting conferencing solution that includes a panoramic camera and audio conferencing system in a single integrated device that stands about the size of a cup of coffee. The system offers 360-degree live view camera capability, 360-degree microphone capability, and wireless connectivity to a number of devices.

4K UAV – The Lily self-flying drone camera from Lily Robotics offers to fly itself – just throw Lily in the air to start a new video, the company says. The drone includes 1080p HD video at 60 fps, as well as 120 fps slo-mo video at 720p. The device is waterproof, and has the ability to safely land – and float – on water. The device weighs 2.8 lbs, and is powered by a built-in lithium-ion battery. And when this throw-in-the-air drone invariable gets off course, the system includes a wireless tracking device.

4K curved HDTV – LG made a splash with its immersive, cavernous booth on the CES show floor. Stepping inside, visitors were surrounded by a dozens of curved OLED 4K TVs on the walls and ceiling that showcased a color-saturated, coordinated stream of images. The LG C6 OLED curved display supports Dolby Vision HDR and offers 10-bit color and processing.