Back from Sodom

An inside look at CES 2019 in Las Vegas.

ONE OF the many scenes from the CES conference in Las Vegas earlier this month (photo credit: ANNE BAER)
ONE OF the many scenes from the CES conference in Las Vegas earlier this month
(photo credit: ANNE BAER)
I was born the same year, month and week as the Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, the annual trade exhibition in Las Vegas organized by the Consumer Technology Association.
Yet the two of us had never met.
I am, all in all, a healthy person with no secret vice, and no need for disinhibiting stimuli. Las Vegas was the last place on Earth I wished to travel to.
This time, l could not procrastinate and just had too many start-ups and companies to see. So I finally booked my ticket to visit my buddies at the “Sodom Electronics Show” that took place earlier this month.
Putting aside my reluctance, and looking beyond the usual bunch of innovative electronic gadgets, self-driving UFOs, and jaw-dropping scrolling TV screens, I went on to see what were the real trends at CES.
What I saw and heard from the professionals is that CES has become the world’s No. 1 auto show – not Mondial de l’Auto in Paris, not IIA in Frankfurt, not even the NAIAS in Detroit – just the CES in Vegas, where the automotive industry, TIER1s and OEMs alike, showcases its most impressive and innovative demo-cars.
It’s no secret that Israel is at the forefront of the mobility revolution, therefore, a remarkable number of Israeli auto-tech start-ups attended the show, holding endless high-level meetings with industry leaders to strike new partnerships.
Among those industry leaders, Valeo, the French global automotive supplier, shared some significant news related to the Israeli ecosystem during the CES.
On one side of the booth was the Smart Cocoon, assembled by Valeo Thermal Systems and integrated by Neteera, the Israeli developer of a sub-THz-based contactless sensor that is capable of sensing and monitoring the vital signs of the car’s occupants.
A few meters away, Valeo showcased its new telematics platform, integrating the V2X chipset from Israel’s Autotalks company. The live demonstration showed the telematics platform capable of switching between DSRC and C-V2X and ready for global deployments. The objective of the collaboration with Autotalks is for Valeo to offer car manufacturers a worldwide solution – based on a single hardware platform and a single V2X software stack – that can be configured on both wireless communication technologies and can switch from one to the other.
Probably the biggest breaking news announcement was the strengthened partnership between Valeo and Mobileye. Beyond their 2015 technological alliance, the two companies have recently signed a partnership agreement for the development and promotion of a new safety standard for autonomous vehicles based on the “Responsibility-Sensitive Safety” (RSS) model. This mathematical modeling of safety, developed by Mobileye, is aimed at widespread adoption by the industry. The partnership will include drafting of frameworks for the verification and commercial deployment of safe AVs, funding of public research on the RSS model, contributing to draft standards and participation in key committees and working groups in designated standards organizations.
And what about energy?
The new Mobility developments had and will continue to have a great impact on the energy sector, with the democratization of electric power trains, the need for electric car-charging management, the advent of smart grids, and the introduction of car batteries storage capacity in the decentralized infrastructure. Quite interestingly, though, the French-based ENGIE was the only global utility player exhibiting at CES, for the fourth year in a row.
Beyond mobility, ENGIE innovates and invests in Blockchain for backing energy-trading operations with small producers through Blockchain Studio, in a successful smart-city monitoring platform with Livin’, and AI-powered smart home with the launch of eCare.
The green camel of HomeBioGas – Engie’s latest Israeli investment – could not remain unnoticed. The domestic biogas digester that turns organic waste into cooking fuel and liquid fertilizer received impressive media attention, such as from Les Echos and La Tribune.
Fortuitously, ENGIE’s booth was facing the stunning Israel Pavilion, which included over 20 Israeli exhibiting companies.
Among them worth noting was the start-up Waycare Technologies, which offers an AI-driven mobility solution that looks at optimizing city traffic management. After having exhibited in 2018, Waycare was adopted by the local Vegas authorities and is currently piloting its solution with Nevada Highway Patrol in Las Vegas, aimed at optimizing traffic management systems and emergency response, which could be visualized in real time on the booth. At the time I visited them, they were dealing with a real accident, helping to coordinate response, and avoiding additional jams.
This location proximity enabled the strengthening of contacts between the French energy giant and the innovations coming out of the blooming Israeli ecosystem of start-ups.
To end on a green note
“To combat climate change, the tech industry must incentivize innovation and champion technology-based solutions,” Gary Shapiro, president, CEO and chief organizer of the CES, said last year.
It was about time to recognize the environmental impact of electronics devices usage, big data and cloud revolutions, all of which contributed to the explosion of global energy consumption.
Proudly, the Israeli NanoScent is among the seven selected start-ups to win the 2019 CES Climate Change Award since its real-time detector senses, monitors, alerts and traces specific VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in the air. Nanoscent aims at breaking the scent-recognition frontier. This sensorial breakthrough will most likely have a wide impact across a variety of industries in the future, starting now, with the prevention of potentially harmful leaks at industrial plants, with a focus on oil and gas.
Coming back from CES, I am double-checking myself. Was it worth the effort? The time spent? The emissions emitted?
Reflecting on my first CES: 200,000 people, 4,400 exhibitors – this should be worth my flight’s carbon impact.
The writer is CEO of iKare Innovation, a gateway into Israeli Innovation.