CES: Day 1
In the weeks leading up to CES, my Email Inbox always gets inundated with companies trying to interest reporters in their greatest, first-of-a-kind, easiest, best product ever. And culling through them, I generally am able to get a sense of themes that will permeate the event - the types of products that the tech world is developing and have made finally it to the forefront to push the market ahead. And this year, my observation is that the answer is - none. There doesn't seem to be a theme. Mostly, it was a lot of "stuff." (Which is the technical term…) To be clear, it's all impressively advanced "stuff," but it's still "stuff."
If any types of products did stick out, it was those in the area of health and wellness, Smart homes, wearables, 5G (still "on the verge," and not mainstream yet), and streaming services. We'll see, over the next few days. Mind you, all of these are perfectly valid consumer fields, just not what most people think of when anticipating the Cool Things in Tech.
Further, even without themes, there are always a range of some wonderful and fascinating devices, technologies and advances that catch your eye. Indeed, one of the major points of CES is discovering what companies are improving and coming up with, to see the direction it's all headed.
To be clear, this is nothing new. I've long had a theory about Big Themes. I've found that they usually run for 3-4 years, and then technology gets so advanced and mature that tech world has to take a year off to breathe, so it can regenerate itself and catch up. I think we're just in one of those years.
The show officially opened today, but as I mentioned, last night I made my way over to the Mirage for Pepcom's Digital Experience, one of the two, similar evening events I love to go to.. They each take over a ballroom, fill it with vendor booths from 100 companies or so, and invite members of the press. Plus they provide a buffet. There is no truth to the rumor that the buffet is the only reason I go. I did enjoy the event, as always, though found it a bit underwhelming. Like I expect much of the show to be, there was a lot of "stuff." We'll-crafted tech stuff, but still stuff.
Without any order, but randomly, here a few things that stood out, for a variety of reasons.
Mevo Start is a camera that makes livestreaming incredibly easy. You connect the Mevo camera to your mobile phone by Bluetooth, and then using their app you can set up which of your social media accounts you want to livestream to. Whatever you film will then be instantly and automatically uploaded to those social media sites and begin to livestream.
Drinkworks comes from Keurig, and it's a similar product as their highly-popular coffee machines. This though is for cocktails. They have about a two dozen "pods" each with a different type of mixed drink. Everything is inside, including the alcohol, all you add is water. And yes, they have a child-proof lock to keep out the kiddies.
Another beverage product is Juno, which can chill a can of soft drink in about two minutes, and will chill a bottle of wine in five minutes.
Lots of health-related products, all really good tech, not all great products.
There were more Smart eToothbrushes, one from Oral B and another from Colgate. The latter, though -- as I mentioned to one of the product's consulting doctors -- happily was the first one I've seen that wasn't stupid. In fact, it seemed even useful, the Plaqless Pro It has sensors that can detect fluorescent that's in plaque and lights up blue, telling you that you've missed it with your brushing. Only after you've got it fully cleaned does the light change to white. (They don't market it as well as the doctor described it, but at least the product itself was good which was the main thing.)
On the ridiculous end is Charmin Airia. This is a robot that wheels around with a roll of toilet paper that you can bring to you if your roll runs out when you need one. A rep of the company kept telling me how valuable this is, that you don't have to get up and go get a roll when needed. As I explained, I think a lot of people keep an extra roll in a bathroom cabinet, and it's not a problem reaching over for it. And further, if the issue is that "you don't have to get up," most people keep their bathroom door closed, so when the robot arrives, you're going to have to get up and let it is, since they haven't added the all-important "open the door" feature. I added that much more important that developing this product is having a good toilet paper, which they do, and he agreed...
The Whistle Go pet tracker seems to be an excellent, if somewhat odd device for pets. It uses GPS and cellular to let you create a "safe zone" for your pet which will beep if the pet goes outside it. And you can track where it is easily. But it also has a fitness tracker that keeps a line on your pet's health -- how many calories it gets, when it runs around for exercise and where, when it's just resting, and even when it's scratching and licking itself (really), information you can get to your vet.
AirThings lets you control the air quality in your home. They also make a big point explaining how you can control this when you're not at home. That sounds good, and maybe it is, bit it seems that home air quality is far more important when you're actually ay home.
There was a lot more -- most of more interest to other people there than me, but a lot more to come...
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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