ICYMI: AT&T’s 5G, Toyota’s Autonomous Safety System, and the Bell Nexus Air Taxi Make Waves at CES 2019

Other North Texas standouts at CES include 900lbs, Syndiant, and Voltea. You'll also find AI-enabled decision platforms (Symphony RetailAI), grants for STEAM (Sam's Club gives DISD $252K), and the top 10 (female‑focused coworking concept) in this week's briefing on ideas and innovation in North Texas.

At CES 2019, Toyota announced it was developing its Guardian autonomous vehicle safety system that could anticipate a pending incident and employ a corrective response in coordination with the driver. [Photo: Toyota Newsroom]
Dallas Innovates' weekly mix of business, culture, and technology in Dallas-Fort Worth. 

Dallas Innovates’ weekly mix of business, culture, and technology in Dallas-Fort Worth.  

In case you haven’t been keeping up with tech news, 2019 International CES ran from January 8-11 in Las Vegas. The annual Consumer Electronics Show is probably the most famous and arguably the most important tech expo of the year and an opportunity for companies large and small to show off the latest, greatest, brightest, and sometimes most outlandish upcoming consumer tech.

Per a Fast Company report, the three biggest trends at this year’s event were digital assistants (such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant), that Apple skips CES and still makes news during the show, and that mobility continues to change—think flying taxis and robots.

Here’s a roundup of what some local companies were up to in Vegas last week.

AT&T is all about 5G

5G wireless tech is barely out of the box and the quibbling and battling for bragging rights is already underway. AT&T took a bit of a public relations hit recently when news leaked that its new ads about 5G Evolution (5G E) were really just a rebranding of its 4G LTE service.

John Donovan, CEO, AT&T Communications, took the CES platform to point out the branding was an indicator that 4G LTE Advanced was twice as fast for consumers than traditional 4G LTE. Last month the telecom giant rolled out full 5G hotspots in a number of locations, including near downtown Dallas (covered in a recent ICYMI). Verizon beat AT&T to the 5G punch by two months with home broadband but not many people actually had access to the service, and Donovan stated AT&T was proud that in December it “had a real device” that people could buy, adding, “We were up first.”

Looking toward how AT&T intends to utilize its new 5G network, ZDNet reports the telecom is working on use cases in hospitals and stadiums, such as a deal with Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center.

“We strongly believe 5G is a game-changing technology that when fully implemented will help us support better hospital operations as well as provide the highest-quality patient and staff experience,” said Rush University Medical Center and the Rush System for Health SVP and CIO Dr Shafiq Rab, per ZDNet.

Not surprisingly, Arlington’s AT&T Stadium will be on the forefront of the stadium piece of the use cases. “It is an exciting time as 5G represents a paradigm shift in how we think about wireless networks,” Igal Elbaz, AT&T’s senior vice president for wireless network architecture and design, told Venues Now. “We are at the beginning of the journey and it will take some time for all the capabilities to show, but the promise is unbelievable.”

In other AT&T CES news, Smart Cities Dive reports the telecom will be working with City of Las Vegas on smart lighting in Vegas’ Innovation District using its LTE and LTE-M networks.

Toyota made Vegas waves, too

Toyota used the CES stage to make a number of announcements beginning with a collaboration between Toyota Motor North America, KDDI, and AT&T to bring 4G LTE connectivity to all new model Toyota and Lexus vehicles starting with the 2020 model year across the entire U.S. Features include in-car Wi-Fi hotspots, unlimited data plans from AT&T, and services like remote starting, diagnostics, Destination Assist, and Safety Connect. The connected tech experiences were described as “just the beginning” by Steve Basra, Vice President, Toyota Motor North America.

The automaker also announced a partnership with Kenworth Truck Company to develop zero-emission trucks powered by Toyota hydrogen fuel cell electric powertrains. The collaboration is part of $41 million Zero and Near-Zero Emissions Freight Facilities (ZANZEFF) grant preliminarily awarded by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and spearheaded by the Port of Los Angeles.

Toyota also announced it was sharing its Guardian autonomous vehicle safety system with other industry players per the Dallas Morning News. At CES Gill Pratt, chief executive officer of the Toyota Research Institute, said Guardian had the potential to save so many lives Toyota felt compelled to share the tech with other companies in the autonomous vehicle space.

The Toyota Guardian would combine and coordinate the strength of a human and machines. [Photo: Toyota Newsroom]

And finally, Toyota also announced the five finalists for its three-year, $4 million global Mobility Unlimited Challenge. The challenge is a partnership with Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre and launched in 2017 around improving the mobility of people with lower limb paralysis. The finalists will each receive a $500,000 grant to further develop their concepts and the eventual winner will receive $1 million in Tokyo in 2020.

The five finalists are: 

  • The Evowalk: Evolution Devices (United States) a non-intrusive sleeve which goes around the user’s leg and has sensors that track the user’s walking motion and will stimulate the right muscles at the right time to improve mobility.  
  • Moby: Italdesign (Italy)– an integrated network of wheel-on powered devices, allowing users of manual wheelchairs the convenience and benefits of a powered chair, accessible via an app-based share scheme.  
  • Phoenix Ai Ultralight Wheelchair: Phoenix Instinct (United Kingdom) – an ultra-lightweight, self-balancing, intelligent wheelchair which eliminates painful vibrations. 
  • Qolo (Quality of Life with Locomotion): Team Qolo, University of Tsukuba, (Japan)– a mobile exoskeleton on wheels, allowing users to sit or stand with ease. 
  • Quix: IHMC & MYOLYN (United States)– a highly mobile, powered exoskeleton offering fast, stable and agile upright mobility.  

Planes, trains, and flying cars

Everyone loves crazy cars and transportation options, and CES is always full of some the more exotic specimens. Take for example the Bell Nexus Air Taxi—a drone/helicopter hybrid that was a Best of CES 2019 finalist—that Bell describes as rideshare in the air. It will be tested right here in Dallas, as well as Dubai and LA. Dallas Innovates covered the news last week.

air taxi

Bell Helicopter has released its full-scale design for the Nexus air taxi. [Rendering: Courtesy Bell]

In related news, CES included a panel titled “Flying Taxis, Build Them, But Will They Come?” including executives from Deloitte, Embraer, Uber and the city of Boulder, CO.

900lbs works on the largest, most advanced interactive exhibit

Dallas-based 900lbs of Creative was tasked with ensuring that OMRON, a global technology leader that solves social issues, had amazing large-scale visual content in the booth experience at CES. OMRON was showcasing the largest, most advanced interactive exhibit of AI, robotics, and automation at the annual event.

“It was vital to OMRON that they showcase the harmony between humans and machines,” 900lbs founder Steve Deitz says. “We helped them capture this spirit of collaboration by making sure the booth activities came across as both something really fun to do, but also demonstrated the emerging potential for these types of relationships to enrich lives and build a better tomorrow.”

At CES, global tech company OMRON demonstrated the harmony between humans and machines with its AI-equipped robotic table tennis tutor. Dallas-based 900lbs showcased the action through its video content and presentation visuals. [Photo: Courtesy 900lbs]

900lbs says that attracting attention at the year’s largest consumer electronics event was no easy task. The two companies worked closely, along with event marketing partner Exhibit Concepts, for weeks to craft impactful video content and presentation visuals to draw attendees into the space and provide context for what they were seeing.

The 900lbs team also captured footage of OMRON’s FORPHEUS 5.0, a Factory Harmony experience, and TM Collaborative Robot during their debut at the show. The crowd interacted with the technologies onsite, so 900lbs recorded, edited, and delivered the pieces in a matter of hours once the show was underway.

“We spent so much time thinking through the mindset of our visitors,” Deitz says. “OMRON has a long history as an innovative company but isn’t as well-known in the states as it is in Japan. We were responsible for conveying that credibility to an American consumer audience, and getting attendees excited for the technology OMRON has developed, without overwhelming them with too much messaging. It was challenging, but also really exciting, and the type of project where 900lbs of Creative’s skills really shine.”

Syndiant showcases near-eye display tech

Dallas-based Syndiant Inc., a microdisplay company, showcased its near-eye display innovations at CES including a 4K Free Form Immersive Binocular demo. “We firmly believe the future is bright for LCOS and are excited to show the world the incredible display solutions that we and our partners have developed,” said Daniel Wong, CEO, in a statement.

Voltea goes up against Las Vegas tap water

The same ICYMI that featured AT&T’s downtown 5G hotspot (see above) also previewed Dallas-based Voltea’s CES plans. The water treatment solution company expected to serve its CapDI-treated water side-by-side with Las Vegas city water to show attendees the difference in quality. Its water systems integrate with smart homes to provide high-quality water with a low environmental impact.

Quick hits

LinkedIn was a popular platform for show updates with Sam Yarin, director of partner solutions at Sports Innovation Lab, posting, “Exciting way to kick-off hashtag#CES2019 with the announcement of the Sports Innovation Lab’s first Leadership Board on Athlete Data.”

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Dan Ferguson, partner, Groove Jones, posted, “Day 1 is a wrap at hashtag#CES. Below are shots of the activation we created for Ford Motor Company with GTB. The gamified VR experience showcases Ford’s Co-Pilot360™ safety technology. The VR experience demonstrates the technology in VR while at the same time challenges you to outperform the tech in a fully-interactive gamified experience. As you can see below, I scored an 83%.”

And to wrap up our CES coverage, Hirose Electric, a Japanese manufacturer with U.S. headquarters in Chicago and a recently announced regional office in Dallas, showcased its wearable and mobile products along with smart home, industrial, and automotive products.

Back in November Dallas Innovates reported on The Pure Company, a women-owned startup that launched a line of products as part of Aerus Holding, LLC, and went into the show as already been named a Consumer Electronics Show 2019 Innovation Award Honoree for its Portable Air Purifier.

Know of any other Dallas-Fort Worth CES 2019 news or tips? Let us know here.

Tech bytes

Symphony RetailAI to showcase tech at NRF 2019

Dallas’ Symphony RetailAI, a provider of artificial intelligence-enabled decision platforms for retailers and CPG manufacturers, launched at NRF 2018 and will also attend NRF 2019, “retail’s big show,” in New York January 13-15. It just announced the acceleration of its AI capabilities over the last year and industry recognition for its innovation.

“When we launched Symphony RetailAI at NRF 2018, we anticipated that AI capabilities would define advantage and success for high-volume retailers and CPG manufacturers moving forward,” said Dr. Pallab Chatterjee, Chairman and CEO, Symphony RetailAI, in a statement. “Our progress in the last year proves that AI isn’t just transforming retail, it’s already enabling it. To further support this, we have launched a framework for the adoption of our AI-enabled solutions that helps our customers to intelligently identify growth opportunities, activate and execute informed decisions, and realize the value from AI by measuring the improvement in revenue and profit.”

PGA CEO calls Frisco the ‘Silicon Valley of golf’

PGA of America is building its new 100,000 square-foot headquarters in Frisco attached to an Omni resort with a total cost of $500 million. New PGA CEO Seth Waugh recently took the time to chat with D Magazine and had some interesting things to say about the organization’s new HQ.

“I think it could be golf’s Silicon Valley. The home of golf is St. Andrews, which is a destination where you go to play, you feel it, you buy old clubs and wear goofy hats. I think this will be a destination,” he told D.

“But I think we’re going to attract a lot of other golf interest. Imagine equipment companies, imagine physios that are trying to be around the game, entrepreneurs that are trying to figure out a new software or a new gadget that helps you play the game. I think we’re going to have a really vibrant place in the country.

“It’s not going to be the day we open, but I would hope that we wake up 10, 15, 20 years later and we’ve had a huge impact on the game because Frisco has become a kind of think tank, slash laboratory, slash economic engine for golf.”

Dallas is good for STEM professionals

Per a WalletHub report, Dallas ranked 38 in the U.S. for STEM (science, tech, engineering, and math) professionals with demand and salaries on the rise. Austin came in at number four and Houston 33 in the rankings. The list of the 100 biggest metro areas was created from 20 criteria such as per-capita job openings for STEM grads and annual median wage growth for those workers.

“They pay higher salaries and boast far fewer threats of unemployment compared with other types of jobs. According to the latest BLS statistics, medical scientists can expect the most graduate-level job openings at around 12,100 per year. Biochemists and biophysicists enjoy the highest median wage, at $91,190,” WalletHub said.

Sam’s Club gives DISD $252K for STEAM

While STEM is the more common acronym in the business world, STEAM (the ‘a’ is art) is preferred in education and Sam’s Club made a recent investment to the tune of $252,000 to the Dallas Independent School District to celebrate its new tech-centric downtown office per a Dallas Morning News report. The donations include $100,000 to Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship Academy, $60,000 each to Solar Prep for Girls and Solar Prep for Boys, and $32,000 for the DISD Computer, Science and Technology Initiative.

“We see these grants as the first step in building strong, long-term relationships with administrators, teachers and students throughout the district to help develop next-generation STEAM talent,” company spokeswoman Carrie McKnight told the Morning News.


Mary Kay gets Brandon Hall bronze medal

Mary Kay was awarded a 2018 Brandon Hall Group bronze medal for excellence in the category of “Best Advance in Learning Management Technology for External Training” for its Link & Learn e-learning platform. The global sales education system links Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultants to a learning community based on content, accessibility and localization.

“Mary Kay fosters a culture of innovation and we are honored to receive the 2018 Brandon Hall Group Bronze award for the hard work put into the launch of our Link & Learn technology,” said Beth Lopez, Vice President of Global Sales Education for Mary Kay and Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Mary Kay Inc.’s European Region, in a statement. “Reaction and engagement to the new sales education system has been overwhelmingly positive and we will continue to work with our Mary Kay markets to roll out this innovative, award-winning platform to help continue our mission of enriching women’s lives around the world.”

D CEO announces 2019 CIO and CTO awards

D CEO released the third annual winners of its CIO/CTO Awards program honoring chief information and chief technology officers across the North Texas region. The 20 honorees for 2019 cover a range of industries from healthcare and finance to aviation and restaurants. The full list of honorees can be found at the D CEO website.

Dallas Market Center announces record number of partnerships

A Home Accents Today report outlined Dallas Market Center’s announcement of its record number of partnerships with organizations such as retail buying groups, trade groups, and associations with more than 40 expected to attend the January 16-22 Dallas Total Home & Gift Market and Lightovation shows.

“We have a deep commitment to these leading organizations with tremendous buying power and industry influence and we have a dedicated team to support them,” said Cindy Morris, President and CEO, Dallas Market Center, in the Home Accents Today report. “As the marketplace leader in lighting, gift, home and floral, we welcome these partners to Dallas and offer them the opportunity to serve their members and broaden their reach to market attendees from around the world.”

READ NEXT ICYMI: Dallas is 5G Hotspot, DFW has Jobs for Hackers, Texas as a Major Biotech Hub, and Voltea’s Water Tech Goes Smart for CES

What we’re reading


Baylor Scott and White’s The Hive is Buzzing with Healthcare Innovation
With a new mobile app and a trendy location in Bryan Tower, Baylor Scott and White’s The Hive — a collection of engineers, programmers, and health practitioners — are working to make healthcare more accessible and affordable. “The outcome and organization’s internal culture is unique. I like the cultural momentum and love the impact. Real problem solving happens here,” said Nick Reddy, chief digital officer and senior vice president of information services for Baylor Scott & White Health.

Steward Health Care Joins Innovative Effort to Solve America’s Drug Shortage Crisis
Dallas-based Steward Health Care, the nation’s largest private, for profit physician led health care network, has joined the ranks of other prominent healthcare systems to become a founding member of Civica Rx, a not-for-profit drug company who aims to drive down costs and increase supply of medicines.


Sports Tech Tokyo Brings Venture Capital And Technology To Sports Landscape In Asia
Dallas-based Paranoid Fan has been accepted, along with 13 other companies, into Sports Tech Tokyo, a partnership that aims to provide sports tech companies a connection to the Asian sports market. Sports Tech Tokyo was formed as the result of a partnership between San Francisco-based Scrum Ventures and Japan’s Dentsu.

Jobs Near Me: Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group looking for digital technology hires
Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group, one of the largest insurers of jewelry, is slated to open a satellite office in Dallas in January which will focus hiring technologists to assist with software engineering, system architecture, and project management incorporating data, analytics, and other technologies.


Dallas area gets a new venture capital firm raising $50 million for early-stage investments
TXV Partners, a millennial-run venture capital firm with offices in Dallas and Austin, is working to raise $50 million to invest in younger startups that offer services to a younger, tech-savvy generation.

Plano tech firm acquired by Dallas PE last year just made its biggest acquisition ever
Technology consulting provider Plano’s Improving has acquired Innovative Architects, an Atlanta-based technology solutions provider. Plano’s Improving said the acquisition is expected to increase its annual revenue by more than 30% in 2019, bringing collective revenue to nearly $100 million.

These Are the 50 Best Places in America for Starting a Business
A new report from Inc. is helping business owners and entrepreneurs identify the best metros for business startups or expansions. Dallas ranked No. 17 for its fertile job market, thriving startup scene, and its position as a hub of mentorship, funding, and networking.

TELL US: What’s grabbing your attention right now? What should we be reading? Send your tips, links, and thoughts here

Top 10
Dallas Innovates most-read stories this week

1. Dallas Sisters Create Female‑Focused Coworking Concept

2. Bell Unveils its Full-Scale ‘Nexus’ Air Taxi Design at CES 2019

3. City of Dallas Welcomes New Chief Innovation Officer

4. Dallas Innovates 2019: The Magazine (in Augmented Reality)

5. Varidesk to Transform Office Building into ‘Active Workspace Environment’

6. Hotels Roll Out Innovative Concepts to Meet ‘Greater Expectations’ in North Texas

7. Social Innovation: A Dozen Top Stories from 2018

8. DI People: RealPage, Istation, One Technologies Announce Leadership Additions

9. Education: A Dozen Top Stories from 2018

10. Hidden Ridge: Verizon’s $1B, 5G-Enabled Development Rises From its Ranching Roots

Things to Do
Events to inspire, connect, educate, and inform innovators

Calendar: New Art Adventure and Selfie Studio, Best of Fests EarthxFilm Screening, TWU Summit
From networking series (#HackTheCulture) to fundraising for tech startups (Ask Me Anything), browse our curated selection of events to plan your next week—and beyond.

Quincy Preston, Alex Edwards, and Payton Potter contributed to this report.

R E A D   N E X T