Make:’s 15 Favorite Finds From CES 2019

Maker News
Make:’s 15 Favorite Finds From CES 2019

Another CES is in the books and Make: was there to scout through the walls of TVs, light-up karaoke speakers, appliances, and all other things “consumer” and “electronic” to find the DIY and startup gems.

A few random notes we came home with:
-At its most top level, the 2019 CES experience matches that of years past, with the most immediate takeaway being “Please buy more televisions.”
-We noticed a LOT of underwater drones this year.
-There seemed to be a Colorado aspect to almost every conversation we had — is this turning into the new hub of innovation?
-The Impossible Burger 2.0 sliders they were giving out were not just a lifesaver at an event that’s known for being devoid of good food, they were also wonderfully delicious.

OK, on to our standouts:

Matt Johnson from Bare Conductive showed us the latest from their conductive ink initiative — a unique, printed matrix and new controller board that can detect touch over the surface of two 4’x8′ sheets of material. They’re now working with new, large partners, the first being Ikea.

The FT Aviator is a new drone controller, created by astronaut Scott Parazynski (seen here), that offers a more intuitive, traditional joystick-style interface. It recently funded on Kickstarter and is designed to work with DJI drones.

Techniplas began as an injection molding company. Now they have a strong digital division, headed by Avi Reichental (formerly of 3D Systems). Based in Ventura, Calif, they focus on automotive customizing through the use automated generative design tools and in-house metal-based 3D printing. Check out the rims on their tricked-out Mini Clubman!

Sphero launched its new product, Specdrums, a few days before CES, and performed live music with them at their booth throughout the week. It’s a fascinating new product —  you put two wireless rings on your finger, each of which interfaces with whatever color it hits against, triggering sounds or physical effects that you’ve programmed into its app. The keyboards here are just for convenience; you can tap them against any colorful object to trigger effects.


OhmniLabs is focusing on making affordable, quickly iterated robotics through its use of 3D printing and novel mechanisms. Its primary product is telepresence robotics, but the founders brought a pair of remote-controlled robot arms that they quickly assembled from repurposed components to CES. The configuration shown above is for window-washing — a rag on one arm and a spray nozzle built into the other.

Mycroft Mark II is an alternative to the Echo/Google Home, allowing the user to create their own private voice assistant that doesn’t connect to a server to collect data. It features an 8-microphone array, high-quality sound, and a visualization screen. It connects to Wikipedia and Wolfram Alpha to answer your voice queries. It recently funded on Kickstarter.

Arduino came to CES with a major giveaway — 10,000 MKR1000 boards. Set up inside the Arrow Electronics booth and with huge signage at the entrances of their exhibit hall, they were by far the most prominent “maker” component vendor at the event.

Omron’s assembly line robot is a fast, fun machine to watch in action.

This VR rollercoaster simulator offered attendees a questionable CES experience.

Desktop Metal’s showed off the capabilities of their metal-printing machine with gears, hinges, and golf club heads. Their desktop system is priced in the $100,000+ range, but does inspire project ideas.

Max Lobovsky from Formlabs showed us their latest in materials, including surprisingly ductile rubber-like resins and polyethylene-like plastics (their 3D printed spray bottle was a surprise). The Boston-based company has grown to 500 employees, with international offices in many major cities.

Electrafly is an electric, flying, personal transport that puts eight spinning rotors around its pilot, along with one 200-HP-generating jet turbine that shoots fire between your legs. Based in Utah, they’ll begin human testing this year.

One other flying personal transport, this creation from Hoversurf has been enlisted by the Dubai police force. It’s quite easily the most frightening thing we found at the show this year.

Admittedly, this isn’t a maker project — but regardless, it’s always really cool to see the cleanly cut internals of a complicated device like a high-end Nikon DSLR.

Another Kickstarted project, Hexa from Vincross is a self-learning robot platform that can determine how to climb over or around obstacles. The Beijing-based company is using this for robotics education.

One thing that’s definitely more prominent at this year’s show is a focus on Autonomous Vehicles. Ford’s testing it’s AV in Florida; Schaeffler showed off its self-driving, wheel-hubbed “mover”; Velodyne had its own autonomous shuttle too. If the number of associated booths is any indicator, Lidar will be a big part of the future of transportation.

Amr Saleh, co-founder of 1Sheeld, brought his latest endeavor from Egypt to CES. Elkrem is an Arduino-based blockchain development board.

Two giants in the analog photography world, Polaroid and Kodak, both showed off their 3D printing initiatives. Polaroid’s is a compact, classroom-friendly device with a low price point (around 450 Euros), but is currently only available in the UK and Europe. Kodak’s machine is a larger, dual-extruder workhorse that is capable of true multimaterial prints. Costing $3500, it has just launched for US distribution.

Dress Coders, from Italy, use optical threads to add glowing, neon-like elements to their fashion designs. The effect is brilliant.

IndieGoGo’s light-up creator tree was a beautiful beacon in the center of the startup hall.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

Mike Senese is the Executive Editor of Make: magazine. He is also a TV host, starring in various engineering and science shows for Discovery Channel, including Punkin Chunkin, How Stuff Works, and Catch It Keep It.

An avid maker, Mike spends his spare time tinkering with electronics, doing amateur woodworking, and attempting to cook the perfect pizza.

View more articles by Mike Senese
Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 - Mare Island, CA

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).