Remember The Jetsons maid Rosie? I recall thinking, “Wow, wouldn’t it be awesome to have a robotic personal assistant to keep me from looking as disheveled as I feel!” never imagining a day when that might exist. I mean, many of us were mesmerized by something as simple as a Giga pet. This is all on my mind because the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2018 wrapped up Las Vegas a little over a week ago. Well, ladies and gentleman, the future is now. Robots galore! Bigger screens and thinner laptops. It’s all very exciting.
So what technological advancements might go on an accountant’s wish list? Here’s mine:
1. Who has time to plug in during busy season?
Accountants — auditors in particular — are a nomadic bunch. And, since we dart from one client to another, we’re left juggling many mobile devices. We are tethered to our work and an outlet (at least when the batteries die).
Device charging is on the hot seat for innovation, and a dead battery is not going to be an excuse much longer.
In the short term, all accountants should invest in a power cell, external-battery pack. It’s like having your own backup generator. Very handy. One Wall Street Journal reporter who went to the show recommended this nifty laptop case:
Yes, one of the most exciting things I saw at CES was a protective laptop sleeve with a built-in battery. The $200 Incase Connected Power Sleeve can fully recharge a MacBook Pro with its big 14,000-mAH battery. It has a USB-C port and cord and a regular USB port so you can charge laptop and phone at the same time.
It will be available in the third quarter of 2018 according to the Incase press release.
Although it’s a couple years from being mainstream, inventors are working on making charging your phone and laptop completely wireless. The first demos were unveiled at the show. Again, the same reporter wrote about her first-hand account:
I got a look at Ossia Inc.’s Cota wireless power technology in Las Vegas last week. In one demo, a giant transmitter installed in a wall lighted up a lightbulb about 6 feet away. That same transmitter also powered special AA batteries, which powered a little LED light. Ossia says its technology can reach up to 30 feet right now, depending on transmitter size and the environment.
Creating a coverage area like Wi-Fi, a Powercast transmitter automatically charges enabled devices when within range. The transmitter uses the 915-MHz ISM band to send RF energy to a tiny Powercast receiver chip embedded in a device, which converts it to direct current (DC) to directly power or recharge that device’s batteries.
Inventors in this arena (Ossia, Energous, and Powercase) all insist their technology is safe. But, I’m worried we all might start glowing if we supercharge our air too much.
2. If you work too much for a real puppy, why not a digital one?
Owning a dog might be too much of a commitment if you are planning to work in public accounting. Rather than neglect the real thing while you’re busy cross-footing into the wee hours, why not get the next best thing? Sony’s Aibo robot dog is more lifelike than ever. Plus, the price is down below $2,000. The last version of the pup was discontinued in 2006 when the price point deterred people and interest faded. The price hasn’t dropped a ton, but the features are more advanced (e.g., Aido can now find a bone, even if fetch is still a little tough) and it’s AI-enabled so it can recognize people in your family. All the fun of a real dog (sort of), and no danger that your Roomba vacuum will have a run in with dog poop.
3. Is client travel a pain in your neck? Lighten the load with a suitcase that follows you around the airport, hands-free!
Instead of an actual puppy robot, how about a suitcase that follows you around like one? Several robot suitcases debuted at CES 2018, and they’re ready to tail you around the airport like a little shadow. Travelmate launched a crowdfunding campaign to get rolling on the project about a year ago (pun very much intended). But there are still some glitches that need to be worked out according to this demo, such as top speed limitations if you need to dash from one gate to another and situations when the bag loses you and starts wandering around like a lost child. But, I’m sure they’re working on it.
Would you give it a double take the first time you see one in the airport? It does look very odd. I still stare dumbfounded when I see someone cruising around on a Segway. I feel like this is in the same category.