This week, the elite top tier techies gathered in Salt Lake City for CVPR, the annual Computer Vision Foundation’s annual tech exhibition where major industry giants such as Snapchat, Apple, and Facebook show off the latest in tech and entertainment alongside lesser-known, but still majorly influential back end developmental companies, as well as leading tech academics. While the focus of CVPR revolved around new research rather than consumer-facing products, the exhibition provided a sneak peek into the driving technologies behind how we live, work, game, play, and otherwise consume entertainment.
The main buzz this year was artificial intelligence (AI), self-driving cars, machine learning technology, virtual reality….and then some more self-driving cars. Big Brother was definitely watching as facial recognition was one of this year’s trending tech features. DeepVision, an AI company specializing in “intelligent image and video analysis” brought Minority Report to life with technology that assesses the faces of individuals for gender and age in order to show targeted ads on nearby billboards in what might be an advertiser’s dream come true. However, the technology still remained slightly flawed as the same man walked by and the technology placed him in three wildly different age categories each time he passed. (Either that or there was some way futuristic time travel technology at play that reversed his age from 46 to 21.)
Multiple companies showcased their new drone technology. While several drone companies compete for the title of most innovative humanitarian use with a drone that (using 3-D modeling for accurate mapping of agricultural lands for example), Skydio took home gold medals in both the narcissist and creeper categories with their self-flying drone camera. The premise is simple. Using a mobile app that controls the drone, the user locks onto a person and sets the drone to follow that person. While this is great for the selfie lover whose arm sometimes gets tired after too many Instagram live sessions, it also allows a user to lock the drone onto following anybody- whether they want the drone to follow them or not. (When asked how one could shake the drone from following them, the representative stammered that she wasn’t quite sure, but she’d look into it. )
Snapchat took the creeper level down a notch or two with their “Spectacles” (already available on the market) that allow the user to record snaps and videos without holding down that pesky button on the phone. The glasses, which are reportedly waterproof, do provide a pretty solid alternative to bringing a phone on outdoor or beach adventures.
While several companies such as Aptiv and Uber debuted driverless car technology, Tesla took the opposite approach- showcasing the driving experience of their newest model. When Ludacris said to “get out the way,” he may have been foreshadowing Tesla’s latest fully electric sports model. For a cool $135,000, drivers have the option to accelerate using three modes: chill, sport, and ludicrous, which takes the car from 0 to 60 in under 2.5 seconds and exerts a significant G-force as it does so. (Test drives were not available at the event.)
Apple also made an obligatory appearance, debuting their new logo as well as dropping hints at new entertainment options to come. Since acquiring Beats in 2014, Apple has continued to focus on improving sound quality in both their Studio and smaller wireless lines. Rumor has it that Apple may be working on upgrading or replacing their Apple W1 chip for even crisper sound and more seamless device transition. This has not been confirmed, but for a company known for pushing the limits of perfection, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they were.
For anyone that loves getting food delivered, but hates dealing with pizza delivery men or Uber Eats drivers, Autox’s Antbot is perfect for personal delivery of packages (or food) within a small area. Ordering something online but don’t trust the postman? Their larger Cargobot model is capable of making deliveries over longer distances.
Virtual reality and new 3-D modeling techniques also made a huge splash at the conference. Qualcomm debuted their highest resolution virtual reality headset to date while. Facebook allowed users to try out their new Optics technology. All allow users to play hyper-realized video games more realistically than ever before- hinting that the technology might soon go mainstream in major gaming systems. Will we soon be shooting hoops so close that we can virtually feel Lebron’s sweat dripping on us in NBA 2K 2022? When asked if the companies had any plans to sell their technology to major gaming companies such as EA Sports for a first-person shooter or sports video games, all of the representatives demurred and declined to answer- with a slight smile.
Who knows? Maybe in a few years, our first-person shooter games might actually involve shooting down that drone camera that’s been following us for the last 10 minutes.
The main takeaway from the conference is this: the future is here.
And it’s all being recorded.