Editor's Letter Insights

Consumed with Consumer Tech

Written by Jeff Child

As we finish up production of this issue of Circuit Cellar magazine, the week (January 11) of CES (Consumer Electronics Show) is beginning. Like all technology expositions in these times, it’s a virtual event in order to keep people safe during the pandemic. Much to my regret, I’ve never actually attended CES. In contrast, an old industry friend of mine, Jerry, whom I’ve known for 30 years, has gone nearly every year. The area of computing technology he’s involved in is on the high-end side—defense and industrial kinds of systems (stuff I used to cover prior to coming to Circuit Cellar). So, basically nothing at all to do with the kinds of stuff exhibited at CES.

That said, as he’s explained to me, Jerry goes for two reasons: First, it’s incredibly fun and fascinating to see the latest consumer technologies in action. Second, consumer devices are now the systems that tend to design in the latest and greatest new technologies first. You name it: IoT, AI, machine learning, object recognition, robotics… Consumer devices have been on the leading edge of adopting the latest electronics technologies, way ahead of when they trickle down to industrial and similar types of markets.

A couple years ago, I revealed to Jerry that I’d never been to CES and he exclaimed: “That’s it. Next year we’re going together.” We’ve not yet made that happen. Who knows? If it weren’t for the pandemic, would this have been the year that I accepted his invitation?

As CES week begins, one way to get a snapshot of the some of the latest consumer technologies is to look at the conference’s CES Innovation Awards winners and honorees. Here’s a selection of some that caught my interest:

BioButton Device and Data services—Best of Innovation: Wearable Technologies category. The BioIntelliSense BioButton is a coin-sized disposable wearable device that continuously measures temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate at rest and analyzes statistical changes that may indicate the signs and symptoms of an early COVID-19 infection. The development of the BioButton medical grade device was funded and accelerated to address the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a scalable health screening and contact tracing solution, the BioButton enables safe return to work, school, travel, conferences and entertainment.

The Fifth-Generation Waymo Driver—Best of Innovation: Vehicle Intelligence & Transportation category. Waymo recently unveiled the fifth-generation of its Waymo Driver, its self-driving technology. The system can be applied to multiple vehicle platforms and power use cases across ride-hailing, trucking, local delivery and personal car ownership. This latest system is more powerful and designed for scale.

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Blue by ADT Smart Home Hub—Honoree: Smart Home category. The Blue by ADT Smart Home Hub is the brains of the company’s Blue by ADT smart home security system. The hub communicates with all Blue by ADT security devices and sensors, delivering an integrated smart home security experience. The Smart Home Hub has an integrated keypad, a panic option and home automation support via Z-Wave. Customers can set recording rules and manage other smart home products (lights, locks, thermostats and more) via the Blue by ADT app or upcoming various voice integrations.

John Deere X-Series Combine—Best of Innovation: Robotics category. The John Deere X-Series is a robotic combine harvester (machine that gathers ripe crops from the field). According to John Deere, these new driverless combines deliver an average of 45% more harvesting capacity across all crops, with no sacrifice in grain quality. With in-field data sharing, you can share coverage map and guidance lines for increased efficiency. Synchronizing controls allow the combine to control the speed, direction and position of the grain cart tractor to automate unloading on-the-go.

All interesting stuff, and all using some form of the latest AI, IoT and other embedded system technologies. Someday Jerry, we’ll walk the floor of CES together and look at this cool stuff in person. Maybe next year!

PUBLISHED IN CIRCUIT CELLAR MAGAZINE• FEBRUARY 2021 #367 – Get a PDF of the issue

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Editor-in-Chief at Circuit Cellar | Website | + posts

Jeff Child has more than 28 years of experience in the technology magazine business—including editing and writing technical content, and engaging in all aspects of magazine leadership and production. He joined the Circuit Cellar after serving as Editor-in-Chief of COTS Journal for over 10 years. Over his career Jeff held senior editorial positions at several of leading electronic engineering publications, including EE Times and Electronic Design and RTC Magazine. Before entering the world of technology journalism, Jeff worked as a design engineer in the data acquisition market.

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Consumed with Consumer Tech

by Jeff Child time to read: 3 min