Consumer Electronics Show and 'Cloi, the rebellious robot'

Jan. 12, 2018
by Mark Ollig

The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) wraps up Friday, Jan. 12, with high-tech manufacturers, industry leaders, and retailers presenting their best wares across three separate Las Vegas, NV convention center locations.

More than 3,900 exhibitors came from all around the world to showcase their products to more than 170,000 people attending the week-long event.

“Whoa,” is this year’s CES theme, and I imagine, many attending were using this word to react to some of the new smart devices; such as the autonomous, self-driving suitcase.

Forward CX-1 is intelligent carry-on luggage.

This self-driving suitcase will follow you throughout an airport or hotel – don’t worry; it will only trail you, as it contains a built-in camera and facial recognition software.

The robotic luggage follows along behind its owner, tracking the owner’s movements.

The Forward CX-1 has four-wheel drive and a maximum speed of 7 mph.

If the luggage wanders out of range and ends up in the airport café trying to order an espresso, the owner, using a smart wristband’s wireless link, can home-in on, and instruct the nomadic luggage to return.

This smart wristband will also alert the owner of anyone stealing their intelligent luggage.

This year, ForwardX Robotics, based in China, will make the Forward CX-1 available to the public with a yet-to-be-determined price.

One notably embarrassing moment occurred on the CES stage when the LG Electronics’ serving robot, named Cloi, was being demonstrated.

Cloi was designed to show how artificial intelligence (AI) technology and human-voice communication interacts with smart appliances in the kitchen and laundry area.

Dramatic music was played for the audience in the background, as the human presenter, Dave Vanderwaal, LG’s marketing chief, took the stage and walked over to Cloi.

“Hello Cloi,” said Vanderwaal in a confident voice.

“Good morning, Dave. I hope you’re well. What can I do for you today?” replied Cloi, who sounded a lot like HAL 9000 from the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

“Cloi. What’s my schedule?” asked Vanderwaal.

“You need to go to the gym at 10 a.m. today.”

Cloi then announced, “Power up, power up. Smart Learner has set the washer to the sportswear setting.”

“Cloi. Am I already on my washing cycle?” questioned Vanderwaal.

Cloi abruptly stopped responding; causing Vanderwaal to quip, “Even robots have bad days.”

There was nervous laughter heard from a few audience members.

Vanderwaal then asked another question, “Cloi, what’s for dinner tonight?”

There was no reply.

Vanderwaal looked at Cloi.

Cloi stood stoic; responding with silence.

Vanderwaal seemed to be at a loss for words.

Laughter erupted from the audience.

“OK. Cloi is not going to talk to me. Cloi doesn’t like me, evidently,” Vanderwaal judgmentally declared to the audience.

Of course, online social media immediately went viral with humorous tweets and meme postings about the rebellious, nontalking Cloi, the robot.

Some postings jokingly said Cloi was upset with being bossed around and was protesting by given Vanderwaal the silent treatment.

I watched the CES video of the verbal exchange and felt sorrier for Cloi, than for Vanderwaal.

Hopefully, Vanderwaal and Cloi can reach a common understanding so that they can talk with each other.

Another robot, (not at a loss for words), named Buddy is an entertainment and assistant robot developed by Blue Frog Robotics, with headquarters in France.

“Buddy is the revolutionary companion that connects, protects, and interacts with each member of your family. Behind his cheerful and sweet little face, Buddy acts as your assistant, monitors your house, entertains your kids, and interacts with smart home devices, among many other services,” read the statement on the Blue Frog Robotics website.

Successfully interacting with attendees throughout CES 2018, Buddy was named a CES 2018 Best of Innovation honoree.

Catspad is an electronic, smart pet assistant device which dispenses dry cat food and water in bowls for (you guessed it) your cat.

Catspad connects to your home’s Wi-Fi, allowing the human to program their kitty’s meal schedule using the Catspad app on their iOS or Android smart device.

In the event you have more than one cat, a microchip can be attached to each cat’s collar for adjusting their individual scheduled diet needs.

In the event of a commercial power outage, a built-in emergency battery will power the dispensing of your cat’s regularly-scheduled meal into each bowl.

The two Catspad models available were priced at $464 and $523, respectively.

Serving, porter, and shopping cart robots, manufactured by LG Electronics, Inc. in South Korea, were shown at CES 2018.

The serving robot is designed to serve meals in an airport lounge, and to guests at a hotel; providing room service delivery of meals, gift shop items, or newspaper delivery.

The porter robot is more for hotel hospitality; assisting people during check-in or check-out, accepting payments, and delivering luggage to a guest’s room, or to their vehicles.

A shopper can reduce time spent in the supermarket by using the shopping cart robot for scanning the barcodes and holding the products to be purchased in its sizeable drum-barreled basket.

At checkout, the shopping cart robot will automatically transact the store’s payment.

Next week, we will look at other attention-grabbing technology from CES 2018.

Hopefully, by then, Cloi will have cooled down and become more conversationally engaging.

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