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We know you’re getting tired of hearing us talk about how far we walked at the 2015 International CES, the big tech trade show that drew 170,000 people to Las Vegas last week. But we’ve got to say it one last time, because we walked miles across 3,600 exhibits and 2.2 million square feet of space to bring you this list: the best of CES.
Some of you may think I’m making this up and that we stayed in our rooms, watched TV, tuned into the keynote livestreams, looked at other web sites, and got drunk at all the parties to the point where we could star in the next movie in The Hangover series. Well, we did go to enough parties to make ourselves truly sick. So our list is late either because we painstakingly debated every single item or because we were so hungover that we couldn’t pull together lucid thoughts until now. But we guarantee you that this is the very best VentureBeat can produce for you at this time.
For the sake of comparison, here’s our list from last year. We tried to refrain from picking things that were on the list last year and still haven’t shipped. (Ahem, Oculus). And we have also decided against including anything that will arrive so far in the future that the Starship Enterprise will arrive first. Here’s a link to our complete coverage from CES 2015.
1. Gogoro smart electric scooter with swappable batteries
We liked Gogoro’s plan because it involved setting up a whole ecosystem.
Gogoro raised $150 million and operated in stealth before it sprung its plan for a smartscooter at CES. The electric scooter has a range of 60 miles, and you can easily swap out the two batteries when they run out of power. You’ll be able to do that at Internet-connected vending machines in dense urban areas, where the company promises it will always have some charged batteries ready. You can find the locations for the batteries via a location network.
That creates a kind of honor system among scooter owners, who can’t abuse the battery-swapping system. Gogoro will sell you the scooter, but it will also charge a subscription fee to access the vending machines. Still, that sounds a lot better than the cost of paying for gas.
2. IO Hawk smart skateboard
Smart Wheels showed off a “personal mobility” device called the IO Hawk that looks a lot like a skateboard, but rides like a Segway. You stand on it sideways, as if you were standing on a board, in contrast to the front-facing way you stand on a skateboard. If you lean back, you’ll move backward. If you lean forward, you’ll move forward. You can lean to the side and turn. It has a top speed of 6.2 miles per hour.
It’s a very simple way to move. But it takes a lot of concentration to do it right. John Soibatian, CEO of Smart Wheels in Montebello, Calif., says you can learn in three to five minutes. I was shaking like crazy when I started using it, but I eventually got the hang of it. Soibatian says that if you can stand on the ground, you can stand on the IO Hawk, as long as you relax. Still, I saw someone fall off of it, so you need to get your safety gear on before you use it. Soibatian said his 10-person company has worked on the product for more than three years. It costs $1,800 now and is available on the company’s web site.
3. Mercedes-Benz F 015 self-driving car
Mercedes-Benz took its new prototype for a self-driving car for a spin on the Las Vegas Strip, and it performed fine with nobody behind the wheel. It has a series of sensors, cameras, and radar systems. The concept car has rounded seats that can spin around 180 degrees so that the front-seat passengers can face those in the backseat. You can control it with a smartphone, and it has six cool dashboard and side panel touch displays that show you a lot of colorful metrics and data about the car.
But don’t expect to see it soon. It may not be available until 2030.
Dell showed off one of the first Android tablets to get Intel’s new RealSense depth camera. Just 6 millimeters thick, the tablet is powered by a new Intel Atom processor and has special features like the ability to take pictures and then bring different parts of an image into focus. If you shoot a couple in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, you can sharpen the focus on the couple, or sharpen the focus on the bridge. You can also tap the touchscreen to take an image and turn it from color into black-and-white.
The Dell Gallery can also use face recognition to sort your pictures into different, easily accessible groups. It has an 8.4-inch 2,560 x 1,600 organic-light-emitting-diode display, and you can use Dell Cast to mirror the tablet’s screen on another monitor or TV. Not bad for a $400 tablet.