CES-of-Show

ceslAnd another CES is in the books.  The 2015 Consumer Electronics Show was big as usual, but if I had to sum it up, two categories would be “wearables” and “rideables.”  Watches and other small-gadget-with-transceivers-and-app were of course everywhere.  Less usual this year: smart transport on display, not just smart accessories.  At the Convention Center:

  • The OneWheel “uni-skateboard” is back.  After last year’s debut, they have succesfully delivered units to Kickstarter backers by Christmas.  Reports are that the finished product is pretty polished, and some even got to ride it.
  • Acton RocketSkates had broken cover before, but CES made it official.  Like OneWheel, they’re “segwayfied” transport, but in rollerskate form, not skateboard.
  • Boosted Board’s e-skateboard was also known, but now cut by hundreds of dollars.
  • The big news: Gogoro’s electric scooter and “ecosystem,” which I’ll discuss later.
  • In established manufacturers, BMW and Mercedes had splashy autonomous car demonstrations.

Stay tuned, apparently they’ve got more energy than I do.

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CES 2: Wheels = 1

When most people think of ‘transportation,’ they don’t think ‘gadget,’ and thus, CES.  Some are trying to change that worldview.  First came Segways, which didn’t break out of niches as planned.  With more work and lower part prices, Solowheel did the same job in unicycle form, hence the name.  It, too, had issues.  Balance is certainly easier than a “dumb” unicycle, but they have no seat.  You resort to using your knees for body english.  The SBU V3 aids this, with a seat to both rest on, and lean against for finer control.

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Photo credit: Onewheel

CES now brought us the Onewheel.  Instead of a Segway/ unicycle hybrid, it’s a Segway/skateboard.  You still lean to turn, but now forward/back… and bow/stern.  Makers compare it to snowboarding, partially since one huge, pneumatic wheel soaks up bumps way better than 4 tiny, solid ones.  Consider it the Segway’ed Wheelman Bushpig, out for 10 years now.

Options for final-mile transport (from your door, to public transport) are growing.  Just in time for global urbanization and US re-urbanization.  But I’d still work on it- the Onewheel has issues. Continue reading

CES 1, Audi 2(ish)

NAIAS happens to be the same time as CES, the Consumer Electronics Show.  I’ve been giving CES a whiff, simply because handheld gadgetry has been far removed from the energy domain.

No more.  Not only is telematics big, but vehicles themselves are falling in the gadget category.  Exhibit A, literally: Audi’s multiprong effort in 21st Century cars.  Besides NAIAS, they chose CES to show the Quattro Laserlight concept.  That’s “laser,” as in lasers = cool, and “Quattro™,” as in “we need 4 wheels to handle the 700 horsepower.”  Yup, not 170 hp, but seven hundred hybrid horsies.  It’s a concept car, sure.  But Volkswagen AG has committed to EVs and PHEVs, including two Porsches.  Now add Audi’s (planned) designs in (arguably) three segments.

And no mild hybrid, this Audi.  The electric motor gives 110 kW (147 hp), as much as the Honda Accord Hybrid, and backed up by a battery good for ~30 miles. Continue reading