Things to expect at CES 2012

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Welcome to Las Vegas - arriving to McCarran Airport

CES is the place where most of the consumer electronic product announcements happen every year. It wasn't surprising to see Neato and Evolution Robotics introducing their first products to the public here, but iRobot has also used this event to in 2011 to unveil the new Roomba and Scooba models.

Robotics seems to be one of the exiting Tech Zones at CES 2012, but looking through the exhibitors list of that section, most of the company names are rather unknown to the public. Where are the big names? Are they all ditching the show this year?

The answer is yes and no at the same time. While iRobot will have a fairly sized booth in one of the main halls (outside the Robotics Tech Zone), Neato and Evolution robotics will not exhibit this year. Neato is not going to be represented in Vegas this year, but I hope to meet the makers of the Mint Cleaner on Monday to see what they are up to. Other big names like Samsung and LG will have their own exhibition area, were along the new TVs, computers and phones I expect to see some advancements of robotics as well.

Samsung has first shown its new robot line at IFA 2011 in Berlin a few months ago, and two variants of the Navibot S series are already available on a few European markets. Honestly I don't expect to see completely new products there, but some refinements and information regarding the American market would be well received.

LG's HomeBot line was at the 2.0 version when I last heard of it, but it didn't really seem to have a measurable market share. I wouldn't be surprised to see a few new models that better match the capabilities of Samsung's Navibot S line, but as usually, information are scarce at the moment.

iRobot's Roomba line is not ready for an upgrade yet, but the Scooba 380 should sooner or later get a replacement that combine the large area coverage of the Scooba 380 with the advanced intelligence features of the Scooba 230. iRobot AVA, the company's telepresence robot debuted last year at CES, let's see where that line has gone in 12 months.

The Tech Zone seems to be a home of smaller Chinese, Japanese and South Korean robot makers, who I hope will bring a few exciting new products. Some of their robots could be great competitors to robots currently available on the US market.

I am landing in Las Vegas in a few hours, but the show won't start till Sunday afternoon. Expect the reports flowing from Monday morning (PST).

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