AI mic, Android TV, self-driving car tech: Everything Nvidia launched at CES 2017

CEO Jen-Hsun Huang talks up how his company is making science fiction a reality today.

Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
3 min read

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang talked up how his company has enabled artificial intelligence and other technologies.

James Martin/CNET

The future is artificial intelligence, and that reality is happening now -- at least according to Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang.

Huang, speaking Wednesday in a packed ballroom at the CES tradeshow in Las Vegas, made it clear that Nvidia's no longer just a computer graphics chipmaker. It's one of the companies helping us live in a truly smart world, with cars and homes that obey our voice commands, he said.

In his hour- and 15-minute-long keynote at the Venetian hotel, Huang rattled off a series of new products, ranging from the ability to stream games to Facebook Live to a remote artificial intelligence microphone that lets you control the Google Assistant in your Nvidia Shield Android TV from anywhere in your home.

"We are going through unquestionably the most exciting times in the computer industry that all of us have ever witnessed," Huang said. "Because of artificial intelligence ... we're able to realize the dreams we've been dreaming about for so many years. What used to be science fiction is going to be reality in the coming years."

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The new Shield Android TV uses the Google Assistant to control your home and television.

James Martin/CNET

Nvidia made its name designing graphics chips computers. But over the past couple years, the Santa Clara, California, company has branched out into new markets like automotive and artificial intelligence. Success in its new industries made Nvidia the best-performing stock in the S&P 500 last year.

Nvidia surprised the crowd at CES 2013 with its first Shield gaming device. The product marked the company's first steps into providing an actual device to consumers -- and it came at a time others, like Sony, were struggling to compete with Apple. Since that time, Nvidia has introduced gaming tablets and an Android TV streaming box, all under the Shield name.

On Wednesday, Huang introduced new devices that tap into the Google Assistant, the virtual software that lets you do things like control your lights or search for a TV show by speaking the commands out loud. The updated Nvidia Shield Android TV costs $199 including a controller and remote and is available later this month, while the new Nvidia Spot acts as a remote AI mic that lets you control the Google Assistant from anywhere in your home. The Spot will cost $49.99.

And he talked up his vision for turning cars into artificial assistants. Nvidia is working with Audi to put self-driving cars on the road by 2020 that use Nvidia's car computers. The company's AI Co-Pilot technology makes cars more aware of what's happening around them, as well as what's happening inside the car itself. And auto equipment suppliers Bosch and ZF are partnering with Nvidia.

Huang also said you'll soon be able to stream games to Facebook Live, which it showed off using a preview of BioWare's new game "Mass Effect Andromeda." The title will be available March 21.

GeForce Now for PCs will let people who don't have high-end graphics in their computers play graphic-intensive games. It turns any PC into "essentially your most powerful gaming PC. And it's all in the cloud," Huang said.

Update at 9 a.m. on January 5 with Nvidia Spot pricing.