On the floor at CES: Talking disruption, AI, AR and more with HP

The Garage joins HP’s Chief Technology Officer and its Head of Imaging at the tech event of the year.

By Garage Staff — January 16, 2018

It’s fair to say that Shane Wall, HP’s Chief Technology Officer, doesn’t experience CES the way most people do.

At the sprawling annual tech convention in Las Vegas, it can be hard to find the signal in the noise. Especially this year, with big, game-changing themes like artificial intelligence, smart cities and smart cars grabbing the spotlight from the more traditional consumer electronic gadgets, such as giant TVs or smart watches. Looking around — and imagining how these trends will shape your life not just 30 years from now, but even just five or 10, can make your head spin.

For a futurist like Wall, though, these kinds of thought experiments are exactly what get his juices going. At CES, rather than being lost in the chaos, Wall saw plenty of advances that align with his perspective on our changing world. 

Ronda Churchill

Introducing HP’s 2018 Megatrends

Wall kicked off his visit to CES by joining Wired site director Jason Tanz to discuss disruptive tech trends during a fireside chat livestreamed on Facebook from the Wired Café. Each year, Wall and his team at HP Labs identify current Megatrends, using them to guide product development and innovation. During the chat, Wall outlined HP’s 2018 Megatrends: BioConvergence, Beyond Human and Frictionless Business.

Wall described a world in which, through a combination of 3D printing, AI and robotics, products will travel the globe at the speed of light in the form of digital files to markets where they can be made to order, personalized and produced locally rather than having to be mass-produced and shipped across oceans to major markets. 

Ronda Churchill

Taking a spin through CES

With a group of other HP execs, Wall hit the floor at CES to get a bead on the gadgets and innovations that are attracting the most buzz — and find ideas for product development at HP. Wired’s Noah Norman led a curated tour of some of the most promising and curious technologies, ranging from Aipoly, which attracted a crowd fascinated by its use of AI and cameras for tracking individual shoppers in stores, to Kohler’s smart bathroom fixtures you control using a digital assistant such as Alexa.

Like museum goers touring a hot exhibit, the techies donned wireless headphones so they wouldn’t miss any of Norman’s details about these emerging technologies and the companies behind them — and to shut out the blaring music and crowd noise that swamp the convention hall. 

Ronda Churchill

The power of personalization, security and sustainability

While Wall discussed the future of tech, Enrique Lores, HP’s President of Imaging and Printing, outlined the most important near-term trends: personalized manufacturing, security and sustainability. Far from being a promise on the horizon, personalized manufacturing is already here, he explained. For example, HP is working with Nabisco’s Oreo cookie brand in China to print tens of thousands of customized cookie-packaging designs, producing eye-catching cartons that build the brand, stand out on store shelves — and sell for a premium. On security, people will have to rethink their assumptions about every digital device — especially printers. “Both professionals and consumers need to realize that printers are computers that show information through paper rather than through a screen,” Lores explains. “They are connected to the network. They have access to the same files and the same systems in the network that a PC has — and can be hacked like a PC.” 

Ronda Churchill

Using blended reality to reimagine the world

Wall and Lores were drawn to demos of off-the-shelf, low-end cameras that blend digital information with real-time augmented-reality views of the world. At eyeSight’s booth, Wall and Lores’ faces were displayed on a screen with tags that showed an AI’s guess at the age and sex of each person. After comparing notes with Wall, Lores mused that the designers may have deliberately programmed the AI to underestimate the age of participants by about 10 years. “It was trying to flatter me,” he says with a laugh.

An entire row of booths were dedicated to augmented reality at CES. Lores and Wall say technologies like these — part of the move to blended reality — will be combined with technologies and trends ranging from 3D printing to bioconvergence to reshape societies and economies. 

Ronda Churchill

Building on success to keep winning awards and fans

By continuing to innovate around the intriguing Sprout Pro by HP, the all-in-one touch-driven 3D computing, scanning and projector platform that’s a hit with everyone from teachers to manufacturers,  HP keeps broadening the audience for the technology and winning accolades. At this year’s CES, HP showed off the HP Z 3D Camera, a 3D camera technology spun off from the Sprout — and took home a CES Innovation Award. The new standalone 3D camera can be used with any monitor, bringing the power of working with realistic 3D images to more creative types, ranging from CG artists to digital fine artists. 

Ronda Churchill

Have headset, can transform

Innovations such as HP’s Mixed Reality Headset and VR Backpack let you step into the magic of immersive computing to give you a glimpse of the future, explained Wall. “There are a lot of ‘realities’ out there these days,” he says, noting the explosion of experimentation in headsets, apps and AI around AR, VR and mixed reality. “Honestly, I think they’re all kind of pointing to a similar idea. The whole concept of what we call blended reality is that our physical beings — people, places and things, who we are — are becoming much more intertwined with our digital reality.”

That has the potential to change everything, from how people communicate to how they experience the physical world. Advances in VR gaming and digital manufacturing are examples of the early stages of this evolution in the making. HP and customers such as BMW and Nike are developing increasingly sophisticated applications of blended reality for 3D printing, enabling companies to switch more quickly back and forth between physical and digital versions of their products so they can accelerate and reimagine the design and manufacturing process.  

By anticipating the major forces on show this year at CES, Wall and his team at HP Labs are working to help businesses keep up with the accelerated pace of innovation and provide the tools and technology to make everyone’s lives better, everywhere.


Get all of HP's news from CES 2018.