By Xinye Ji
CES 2015: The Internet of Things
So, for those of you who were following, CES 2015 started off the new year with what Samsung dubbed as “the Internet of Things.” In short, the industry predicts that this year is the year where everything will be truly connect. (If you choose so.)
This pattern has been sparked by last year’s theme of wearables. Which, needless to say, has made its own advancements. At CES this year in particular, there were a handful of interesting announcements.
Withings Activite Pop
This product is actually a dumb smartwatch, if that makes any sense. In summary, the Pop is an analog wrist watch with a couple of dials that track many biometrics such as your sleeping pattern, movement, and some other basic functions. This product brings up an interesting point, however. How smart do our wearables need to be? And does this address where some watch manufacturers could step in? For a large majority of people who genuinely love watches, no. For many, watches are supposed to be keepsakes, or rather a product that can really carry its value; something that you buy for life. However, Withings might make some headway towards those at a more low to mid-range price point. There is definitely a market for those who want to wear a simple watch and an activity tracker.
LG WebOS Watch
LG, on the other hand, went to the other extreme. The wearable that is integrated with everything (including your car). The LG watch is interesting for two reasons.
One, the operating system of the watch is based off WebOS, not Android Wear. While I suspect it is because Android Wear doesn’t have driver support for some of the hardware LG wants included (For example, a radio antenna), it brings up the compelling argument that perhaps this landscape doesn’t have to be just Google VS Apple.
Two, LG has been working with Audi to make this watch a new key for their cars; which brings us to another interesting topic.
In recent years, cars have begun to catch up to the rest of technology. Whether its self parking cars, accident detection, or any other plethora of safety features, the driving process is becoming more and more automated. BMW’s booth had an interesting demo of their new electric i3. They challenged drivers to try and ram into barriers to show the i3’s new accident prevention sensors. This brings up an interesting potential issue. How far is too far? What if one comes across a situation where they may need to ram into/through an object? This question becomes even more relevant when you see Mercedes and Google with their completely autonomous cars.
The last topic I wanted to talk about are two chip manufacturers; Nvidia and Intel. They seem to be moving towards mobile processing this year in two very different ways:
Nvidia announced their new chip the Tegra X1. What’s most interesting about this chip is that it is based on Nvidia’s Maxwell architecture, which is their desktop GPU architecture. In other words, it’s really really powerful. In fact, in terms of floating point performance, it is the first mobile CPU to be able to do 1 teraflop.
Even more surprisingly, Nvidia expects this chip to be at the forefront of the automotive industry. Their autopilot system DRIVE PX will use two X1 processors from 12 cameras. On the flip side, their DRIVE CX system will power Infotainment and other kinds of metric data.
One can only wonder if this can be used for other mobile applications such as the cell phone or tablet, considering the mobile architecture is still quite energy efficient. Additionally, this is the first time in a while since someone has really thrown a lot of processing power in a mobile chip. In fact, Intel has curiously gone the other direction.
On the other hand, Intel released their new i3, i5, and i7 next generation processors (Codenamed Broadwell). Additionally, they’ve broke away from their usual pattern of releasing their enthusiast DIY processors and released their mobile (or rather laptop) processors. The emphasis of this release is power consumption over their usual performance upgrades. Battery life has improved about 20%-30% compared to Haswell (the last generation). Performance has also seen marginal improvements. With this release, Intel has decided that the mobile market is more relevant in this iteration of processors.