My goal when I immerse myself in CES every year is to uncover the hidden trends that can make The Motley Fool's readers -- like you -- aware of a few good investing opportunities.
Now that I've had some time to digest the experience of the world's largest tech show, I've put my thoughts together into a video that will bring you right onto the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center...as well as on the roads around it in a Russian self-driving car.
And while we often look for up-and-coming companies to bring us exciting technology, some of the most innovative things I saw came from a very familiar, 180-year-old name.
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If you're unfamiliar with the monstrosity that is CES, picture 180 thousand distracted people crawling over each other like ants at a molasses spill.
It can be terrifying to fight through, but that's why I'm here...to filter out the noise and save you a few bruises.
And yes, there can be gold here for investors if you're able to avert your eyes and keep a sense of focus.
Here are the most interesting things I came across...
1. Yandex highlights advances in self-driving cars
My top moment came far from the convention center crowds, in a self-driving car by a company largely unfamiliar to Americans. The company is Yandex (NASDAQ:YNDX) -- known as the "Google of Russia" because it dominates internet search in that country and rakes in a lot of cash because of it.
To give you an idea how quickly self-driving cars are advancing, Yandex is offering rides even without a safety person in the driver's seat!
So what's it like riding in a driverless car? It's fun... actually exciting... for the first few minutes. And then, well, rather routine and uneventful. Which is exactly what you want in a safe technology, right? Don't worry, when self-driving cars actually roll out and aren't hampered by current design restraints...I think they're going to be comfortable and very entertaining!
2. Riding in your own boutique hotel room
For a fine example, consider the fully electric BMW (OTC:BAMXF) Vision iNEXT, described as the company's new technology flagship and scheduled to hit the road in 2021. The iNEXT is designed from the inside out for riders in autonomous vehicles:
"We were inspired by boutique hotels and fine modern interiors, so really you see some aspects of Scandinavian design. You see some kind of configuration of furniture the way you find it in a modern home rather than a traditional automotive interior." -- Holger Hamph, president of BMW Designworks
The design includes flat panel TVs and and intelligent beam projects books and movies onto any surface you choose, as well as a futuristic touch interface woven into fabric of seats. Touches and swiping gestures can activate a playlist, for example, or other functionalities of the car.
3. Crazy motorcycles
Before we depart the world of transportation, you've got to see this self-driving motorcycle from BMW... there are no plans to actually roll this out as a real product. But it would make for some interesting delivery options in crowded cities!
And... something you will actually be able to buy later this year, the all-electric Harley Davidson (NYSE:HOG) LiveWire motorcycle. A 110-mile range, zero to 60 in under 3.5 seconds, a lot of power... and even some noise... It can be yours in August, for around $30,000.
4. AI + Robotics = Wow
The marriage of artificial intelligence and robotics will bring some amazing things into our lives in the near future. Maybe you've already seen Pepper, from Softbank (OTC:SFTBF) Robotics, which can be deployed in a variety of situations, from retail to banking to healthcare. Pepper analyzes expressions and voice tones while chatting with consumers, all while answering questions, giving directions, taking orders, or whatever. The data it collects can be a boon to businesses.
But I'm most impressed with Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), which has been innovating for over 180 years now! It's using AI for a variety of products that you might actually use, soon... like a power toothbrush that provides real-time feedback transmitted to your smartphone. It can show you, for instance, where you are over-or under-pressuring. It even provides a map after you brush indicating areas you need to pay more attention to. The info can go to a parent or a dentist... or nowhere, if you choose.
That seems an obvious use of home and health technology, but how about this: the Opte Precision Skincare System. This device scans, detects, and then corrects hyper-pigmentation or age spots. As you pass it over your skin, its 200 fps camera runs the data through a microprocessor... and 120 thermal ink jet printers apply droplets measured in picoliters... of pigments and moisturizers to flawlessly cover your blemishes and spots.
"Women well into their 70s, actually 90% of their skin is completely flawless, and yet we're forced to cover it with foundation. And you can't see the natural radiance. What this does... we think it puts down one-billionth of a liter of product on your entire face, which is almost nothing. And so it only covers where you need it, and not where you don't." -- Lauren Thaman, P&G Ventures
P&G is also ready to roll out a smart home fragrance delivery system, heated razor blades, and for retail stores... a skin analyzer booth that gives you more info about your skin... and provides recommendations for products in an interactive setting once you're out of the booth.
5. Our existing favorites continue to innovate
While that's a slice some of the more interesting things I saw... it's worth noting that NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA) and Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) had their usual impressive displays showing off their advances in artificial intelligence and self-driving technology.
And, in the battle of titans... Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Alexa and Alphabet's (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google Assistant were both very high profile... showing how critical the battle for your home, car, and really wherever you go, has become.
The entirety of CES makes it clear for me: The next few years -- and beyond -- are going to be really great for us tech geeks.
Reporting from CES in Las Vegas, I'm Motley Fool analyst Rex Moore.