Robots at CES 2018: Other Gadgets


A remotely-controlled actuator for electrical switches. You attach this device onto your light switch or cofee pot, then using your smartphone you can send a command to make the actuator push the switch.

Despite all the products available in home automation, this is a cool idea for a few reasons:
• It works with devices that you can’t modify, like your coffee maker.
• Some people might not feel confident to swap their regular light switch for a new wiz-bang IOT switch plate.
• In some countries, like Australia, only licensed Electricians are allowed to install light switches.


Fig. 1:

Fig. 2:

A side note:
I invented a remote-controlled switch like this (doesn’t everyone say that!) — when I was about 8 years old. I wanted to control my bedroom light switch remotely but my parents wouldn’t let me tinker with the wiring or drill into the wall. Also the mechanical design is tricky, in that you need a small motor with enough torque to toggle the light switch, and you need a way to keep it attached to the switch fascia whilst applying force to the switch.
I designed a machine in the spirit of Rube Goldberg. It consisted of a ramp with a toy car placed at the top. The car was released down the ramp by a remotely-controlled gate, powered by low voltage. When I wanted to go to sleep, I pressed my remote switch to release the car down the ramp which collided with the light switch and turned it off! Of course in the morning I had to manually reset the system and place the car back at the top.


At their booth they were showing a robotic food bowl for your dog and a remotely-controlled doggy door.
They also have a dog collar with GPS tracker which can be used to control the other devices (Fig. 3).

This product is cool because who hasn’t dreamed of inventing a robotic pet food dispenser, right?!
It reminds me of the film “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”, which is about a father who invents many contraptions, including an automatic machine to dispense doggy biscuits for the family’s pet dog (Video 1).
However, what’s missing is some computer vision or doggy facial detection, so you don’t have to make your pet wear a special collar.

Fig. 3:
Food bowl, doggy door, GPS collar
and other accessories.

Video 1:
A clip from the film
“Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”

Walt Disney Pictures


A food and water dispenser for your cat, which is of course controlled by your smart phone.

Fig. 4:

Drip by Bubble Lab

Previously this company had a robot manipulator that was making cups of coffee like a human would. Now they have built a dedicated machine called to make you a single cup of pour-over coffee. The “Drip” is a 4-axes robotic device that hides away beneath your counter-top, then pops-up to squirt hot water into your cup. It can move the liquid nozzle over the cup in polar coordinates: by rotating or moving in-and-out.

I’m not sure how it detects the location of the cup, maybe there is a small camera next to the nozzle? And what happens if the cup is outside the reachable area?


Fig. 5:
The Bubble Lab booth
was very popular.

Fig. 6:
The “Drip” (front) and
“Drop” machine (rear).

Robbox Tools

Marketed as “robotic tools”, this looks like an interchangeable tool system. It has a single, universal battery and control unit. You can then use various attachments like a drill or grinder.

What sets this product apart is its sleek industrial design, with modern touchscreen and IOT functionality. This could be popular with people who want to control everything via their smartphone.

They advertise a surprisingly large number of tool attachments, but the question with all these universal tools is: how well they perform any of the specific tasks? For example, does the car jack attachment have enough power to raise your large SUV, and how long does a battery last?


Fig. 7:

Fig. 8:

Sunflower by ShadeCraft Robotics

A robotic sun shade (umbrella).

Fig. 9:
Advertising billboard for ShadeCraft.

R3D3 by GreenCreative

The closest thing to a trash-can robot!
This group was back again with their sleek “smart bin” that pre-sorts your recyclables into 3 categories: aluminium cans, plastic bottles and paper cups. You place the object on the top of the machine. It uses computer vision to detect the type of object, after which it either sucks the object inside and crushes it, or the light goes red to indicate that your item cannot be recycled.

I think it would be more fun if this machine occasionally shot your rubbish (trash) back at you!

Fig. 10:

Video 2:
Demo showing an aluminium drink
can being processed and crushed.

Green Creative

Momo by Morpheos

They were showing their prototype of Momo, a “robotic assistant”. It’s advertised as a smart home hub with voice recognition, being similar to Google Home or Amazon Alexa.

Fig. 11:

Wiral LITE by Wiral technologies AS

A cable-based motion control system for your camera.
I thought this was cool because I’ve often wondered about those cable-mounted cameras you see flying through the air at the Olympics or other sporting events. I can imagine this would be useful for permanent installations, or if you wanted to capture a long, linear motion in a single shoot. However a drone would be quicker to setup and wouldn’t restrict you to a single axis of motion.


Other similar products are produced by “High Sight” and “Glide Gear”.

Fig. 12:


Because it has “bot” in the name.
The “Halo” is a bedside clock and lamp, with in-built voice recognition using Amazon’s Alexa.

Fig. 13:

Winbot by In-Win

Another product with “bot” in the name.
A spherical-shaped computer case for PC Gamers, with gesture recognition and facial detection.

Fig. 14:


A robotic toilet seat, with automatic open/close lid, heater, dryer, and more.

Fig. 15: