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CES 2020: The coolest and most disappointing AI products


3D Rendering, Robots speaking no evil, hearing no evil, seeing no evil

From robotic chefs to humanoid chatbots and toilet paper robots, CES has it all.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the major themes emerging from CES 2020. The conference had several presentations on the myths, realities and impacts of AI, but it was during the demos where AI really took the spotlight.

Samsung was one of the most talked-about companies at CES this year, demoing several new AI projects.

The coolest was probably the Bot Chef, a pair of robotic arms that can chop, dice and mix foods and even reach into cupboards. While it's not yet available commercially, it could be beneficial for people with mobility issues, those in wheelchairs and people who just don't like cooking.

Samsung also demoed the much-hyped Neon avatar. While Samsung claims Neon is a "virtual being that looks and behaves like a real human," demo videos from CES show the execution is almost laughably disappointing.

The tech giant also unveiled a new digital butler, Ballie. A tennis-ball like assistant that rolls around your home and interacts with various smart devices. The promotional video shows Ballie interacting with (and taking care of) a dog, but as many people pointed out in the YouTube comments, your dog would probably chew it up before you could get too much use out of it.

LG's upcoming appliances are also all about AI. Customers can expect new washing machines, dryers, a fridge and an oven in 2020.

The company also has a new AI-based customer care program that can detect when customers are making errors that could lead to malfunctions or warn customers when products aren't working or near repair.

Intel's presentation highlighted AI with an announcement that the company will help Olympic athletes track their performance using Deep Learning Boost (DL Boost). This focus on AI is unsurprising following the Intel Corporation's purchase of Habana Labs, an Israel-based AI development company.

Aviation and automotive companies got in on the action too. American airline Delta announced the development of an AI machine learning platform that aims to reduce travel disruptions and Toyota wants to build a smart city full of robotic assistants and autonomous vehicles.

Two french bulldogs sitting outside on the grass

AI for pets

Amidst the sea of smart products at CES this year, we saw a mass of pet-centric AI. From self-cleaning litter boxes to emotion-sensing dog vest, the ideas range from practical to bizarre. Some of the items are currently available for purchase, while others aren't fully funded yet.

Here are some of the most interesting smart pet products and what they claim to do:

  • iKuddle's self-cleaning litter box can help you track your cat's health.
  • Litter-Robot from AutoPets is another self-cleaning litter box that looks like a space capsule.
  • The Wazyn smart doggy door opener that can open sliding doors when your dog needs to go outside.
  • The Go Dogo virtual trainer aims to help keep your dog mentally stimulated while you're out.
  • The Inupathy dog vest tells you how your dog is feeling by analysing its heart rate.
  • The SmartOsso smart dog bone collects data to analyse your dog's health.
  • The Link smart dog collar can track your dog's location and monitor its activity.
  • CarePod, a smart pet carrier that allows you to monitor your pet during flights.
  • Sure Petcare's intelligent pet feeder can dispense appropriate food portions and stop animals in multi-pet houses from stealing food from each other.

There are also several tech companies developing robotic pets. The cutest of these robots is the Lovat, a small pet robot that first premiered at CES 2019 and is designed with one simple purpose: to make you happy. Another companion bot is the MarsCat by Elephant Robotics, a robotic cat that can play and recognise commands.

Other AI highlights from CES include:

  • Charmin's RollBot that can bring you toilet paper when you run out.
  • Mixed reality glasses from Nreal.
  • The Townew trash can that ties up its own garbage bags.
  • Robotics-as-a-Service has an AI-powered pizza robot that can make 300 pizzas per hour.
  • PuduTech launched two new delivery robots: BellaBot and HolaBot.
  • Yukai's Bocco Emo, an update on the previous Bocco robot, is a cute and empathetic companion robot.

From AI-powered toothbrushes and yoga mats to smart bassinets, the number of new smart products at CES is seemingly endless. While how well most of these products work is still unclear, one thing is clear: We can expect our everyday products to get a lot smarter in the coming years, whether we like it or not.

Want to know more? Take a look at our overview of CES 2020.

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