CES, commonly known as the Consumer Electronic Show, starts off the the tech year in early January in Las Vegas. This year there was plenty of talk about things like 5G and Artificial Intelligence. As usual, there were several wild gadgets offerings.

This year, Charmin took the title for the weirdest gadget. The brand showed off a little Bluetooth-enabled toilet paper delivery robot that will deliver a roll to you just when you need it. The company also announced a smell sensor that tells you when it’s safe to enter the bathroom.

CES also had a lot of useful product announcements. However, the announcements that really surprised me came from two automotive manufacturers, Toyota and Hyundai. I expected their major press announcements to be about electric or autonomous vehicles. Yet, neither of these was mentioned in either of their media presentations.

Instead, both manufacturers talked about expansions beyond vehicles. They promoted their respective visions of cities of the future. These were not just simply ideas. They were full-blown plans. Both Toyota and Hyundai have already invested considerable time and money to develop ideas and partnerships for these futuristic plans.

Toyota’s future city was the most exciting. Akio Toyoda, the current CEO, announced the building of the city of the future to be started this year. The city will be built in Japan at the base of Mr. Fuji on 175 acres that was previously the site of a Toyota automotive plant.

Toyoda called it the “Woven City.” It is envisioned to be a place where researchers from around the world will live and work in order to test and develop useful technologies for future city-dwellers. The city is expected to have 2,000 residents of all ages and be based on current and future technologies such as robotics, smart homes, and artificial intelligence. He showed plans for a fully connected ecosystem with different types of building, transportation and other technologies being tested in a real-world environment.

He envisioned a fully connected ecosystem powered by hydrogen fuel cells and other amenities being provided by a layered support “city” under the Woven City. That is just the type of city that Leonardo da Vinci envisioned more than 500 years ago. Da Vinci’s urban plan was not put into full use in the 1400’s, but hints of it have been seen if cities after that time, and again, now in the Woven City of the future.

Hyundai also shunned talk of autonomous and electric cars at the convention to promote its vision of a future city, which is quite different than Toyota’s Woven City. Its vision is focused on the future of mobility. The company even talked about retrofitting a city like San Francisco to transform transportation.

Stating that urban residents living in today’s cities face a deficiency in transportation efficiency, the company envisions a three-prong mobility solution.

First, there would be a connected space called a Hub where autonomous “Purpose Built Vehicles” called “pods” of various sized would deliver people. They would then be able to travel short distances by Urban Air Mobility, an electric air vehicle capable of vertical take-off and landing that can handle four or five passengers.

Hyundai even envisions stores being set up in these movable pods and perhaps people living in them. It’s pretty hard to imagine right now. It’s also hard for me to imagine taking a helicopter-type of flying device to work every day or living in one of these amazing cities.

Some of the ideas seem almost ridiculous, but if you look at the advances that we have seen in the last 50 years, you realize that change is coming quickly.

As we live our daily lives, ee seldom think of the future or what everyday life will be for our grandchildren or great-grandchildren. It’s good to know that there are people out there thinking of, and perhaps planning for a better future. It’s also good for us to think about it every now and then.

Special Note

On Jan. 14, Microsoft ended support for Windows 7. That means that there will be no more security updates. Even though users will be able to continue to run Windows 7, they will be susceptible to hackers and security problems.

Windows 7 was one of the most popular operating systems, and experts estimate that there are still millions of people using it. If you are one of them, it’s time to get rid of Windows 7. In most cases, the best way to do that is to bite the bullet and get a new computer.

Contact Sandy Berger at Sandy@compukiss.com.

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