Mind-blowing Niche Gadgets at 2019 CES Asia — Black Mirror Coming to Life

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show Asia marks the fifth annual gathering event for tech lovers and geeks. Rather than classy and fancy ideas, what is most eye-catching this year is actually the niche products with delicate industrial design and “black technology”. Artificial Intelligence, speech recognition and augmented reality can hardly be considered novelties anymore, but the extent to which they can actually be utilized in real life scenarios is truly sensational and mind-blowing. Immersive VR gaming, partner robots, the ideas depicted in this season of Black Mirror do not seem so far-fetched.

2019 CES Asia in Shanghai

Battle robots

Battle robots sound cliche. Several years ago tech startups in Shenzhen were already producing huge quantities of them. Back then, they were lined up in local factories like mini armies in cyberpunk films. But they were not as swift and flexible as they are now. A Shenzhen-based robotics firm called GJS Robot focuses on producing gamer robots. Their newly released GANKER bots and “human-machine as one” consumer battle bots GANKER EX have already appeared in world-class gamer battlefields, garnering the attention of millions of overseas fans. Players can either be equipped with a handheld controller, or wear an interactive suit connected to the robot.

The base plate of the robots support high speed rotation in all directions. What’s also special about the GANKER EX is that its skeleton and shell adopt a separate design, with the shell fully adaptable by users. For example, you can make your robots look like a character from your favorite game. (Ghost in the Shell, anyone?)

Lu Ban from Arena of Valor

VR gaming host

Xmov is an AI company focusing on computer vision and computer graphics. At its booth at CES Asia, dancers wearing interactive motion capture suits mesmerize the audiences with Chinese Kong Fu steps, while projected almost simultaneously on the screen as a virtual character.

Another eye-catching Chinese AI firm is called Leyard Optoelectronic, an electronics manufacturer specialized in Optitrack (optical tracking) and motion capture technologies. Optitrack motion capture has been seen previously in multiple Hollywood movies including Avatar, Star Wars: Force Awakens and Warcraft. The technology is now widely applicable in gaming and online streaming, as well as in military simulation and sports training. According to one of the sales managers, they are cooperating on a game with Chinese Internet company NetEase at the moment.

Holographic fans

What are the classic elements of cyberpunk? A wet city, dark ambiance and kaleidoscopic holographic effects, like Bladerunner 2049. For now, this seems fully achievable. Founded in 2016, Nanjing-based Dsee. Lab Digital Technology focuses on research and development of holographic display equipment and creative visual effects design. It is now a leading company in manufacturing 3D holographic fans, with sub-branches in North America, Germany and Singapore. For now, the application scenarios include exhibitions, stage performances, retail stores as well as bars and clubs.

holographic Pikachu

Utilizing the duration of vision theory, the holographic fans are able to rotate at a super fast speed, which creates a 3D animation effect. The image is hard to record with phones or cameras due to differences in frame rates, but looks fantastic with the naked eye.

holographic fans made by Dsee. Lab

AI partner robots

In the third episode of this season of Black Mirror, Ashley too, a robotic mini-version of Ashley the singer became the best friend of the protagonist. For a shy owner, she is lively, optimistic and loving. She is a friend, with the exact character copied from the celebrity herself.

In the future, consumers’ requirements for AI robots don’t fall upon simple interactive demands like “turn on the lights”, but will gradually focus on emotional company. According to Hu Die, CEO of OBexx, a Shenzhen-based AI robotics company, smart voice recognition will continue to evolve in this era of multi-mode interactions.

AI virtual partner in a box

The product features vivid projection in a black box. Equipped with smart voice recognition system of iFlytek, it would wake up at a voice command. However, in contrast to other voice assistants, it has a virtual body, one that users can change according to their own liking. How about Marilyn Monroe, Justin Bieber, or an ex you can’t get over, the possibilities are endless.

Just imagine, the robot box can be a soothing company when the user is aching for attention. In fact, it is always there, never cold or negligent.

Laser scan projection

OPUS Microsystems is a Taiwan-based MEMS design company focusing on providing laser scan projection solutions based on proprietary MEMS scanning mirror technology. The technology can be used in 3D cameras, portable projector, AR display, etc. The Augmented Reality laser scan screen projects scenes from Marvel films. Additionally, projections on the windscreen are supposed to alert drivers whenever there is potential danger to avoid. Right now the company is in negotiation with auto companies to develop more innovative in-vehicle projection solutions.

Featured photo credit to KIA at CES Asia