Hello, It’s Your Pet Calling

CES tackles the brave new world of smarter cars and better pet interaction.


As we entered into the new year of 2016 with the worldwide economic cloud of uncertainty hovering like an unregistered drone—particularly in China—CES was still setting records. Bustling with more than 170,000 attendees and more than 3,600 companies displaying their new products, the event was as hectic as ever.

There was a big showing from all the major automotive manufacturers and suppliers. Companies were showing off their new electric vehicles and virtual reality displays for autonomous driving concepts.

Automotive innovations that I found notable revolved around new dashboard layouts and instrumentation displays, including avionic heads-up displays that provide the driver with navigational information, safety, speed and personal communication information. In addition, several companies are introducing night-assisted vision systems. The goal of these systems is to provide information and access to accessories without having the driver take their eyes off the road. As well as providing a safer driving experience, these systems reduce drivers’ stress and improve the driving quality and experience.


Even though Tesla has located its battery manufacturing plant in Nevada, and they just recently announced a new vehicle, they were conspicuously absent at CES. While Tesla is leading the industry in the vehicle electrification race, many of the big players are directly targeting them. Following are some highlights.

• Chevrolet redesigned the Volt for 2016 with the nickname Volt 2.0
• Chevrolet Bolt is the electric car industry’s new standout, with approximately 200 miles of range in a package for less than $40,000 before tax adjustments.
• Volkswagen presented a stunning and practical minivan concept; however, it won’t enter production until 2019.
• Audi showed off the all-electric crossover, eTron Quattro, with a 300-mile range.
• Mercedes committed to outlining its plans for an electric car roadmap before the end of 2016, plus showed off its self-driving 2017 E-class sedan.
• And BMW, with two electric vehicles in production, was showing off its mirrorless and hand gesture dashboard systems.

(Data for these and other innovations are provided in Semico’s Design Starts Report # SC104-15 which tracks 71 applications including automotive systems. For more information, contact Rick Vogelei at RickV@semico.com.)

But there was much more than just cars.

We all love our pets, and the pet industry is over $60 billion in the United States alone. When we travel or go off to work for the day, we miss our pets and our pets miss us. PetChatz introduced its new PetChatz HD product that allows you to call your pet when you are away from home while accessing a new HD screen and other improved features. You can see and talk to your pet and dispense treats. And if your pet is smart enough, it can even call you, using the PetCall feature! This device also will provide alerts for events in your home that are detected via motion and sound. All this is provided for just $380. The new, updated model is expected to be available next month.


Once again CES had much more than I could absorb or write about in one blog. Over the next several months Semico will be talking about many other concepts and products shown at CES.