Walking…lots and lots of walking. Crowds. Noise. Hype? Yeah. Such is the nature of CES, the annual orgy of tech that descends upon Las Vegas each January.
This is the 50th Anniversary of the event, which debuted as the Consumer Electronic Show in New York in 1967 with just 117 exhibitors showing off black and white televisions, radios and not much else. It wasn’t even legal to own your own phone back then, “Bell System Property, Not For Sale” Only the boomers remember that one. It was a BIG DEAL if your friend had a color TV to watch the few offerings from the two or three channels via rabbit ears or a rooftop antenna.
So far there’s not any huge breakout never-before-seen product being revealed this year, and there’s not likely to be an iPhone Moment here. Apple has not deigned to be part of CES for several years now, and Microsoft backed out a few seasons back to have more control over their launch process as well. What we have seen is incremental improvements to product lines.
As I write this, Brenda is experiencing frustration trying to get a pair of headphones embedded into a fabric headband to stay connected. The controls are not intuitive, the bluetooth pairing process is somewhat awkward, and the wires are very thin and may be prone to failure. Far too many product hopefuls fall into the trap of rushing a poorly thought out design into production. It might look good on the designer’s screen, but fail miserably when in the hands of the consumer. And there we have the point of the exercise and the reason that at least 80% of what we have seen so far will never see the retail shelf.
Official Proof that BoomerTech Radio is, in fact, a bona fide Tech Media. YAY!
Badges? We don’t need no Badges! Uhm, yes we do. Media people operate on vast amounts of caffeine. The organizers of CES recognize this fact. Also lots of alcohol.
Nothing says High Tech like a humongous ice sculpture through which drinks are poured. Open bars were generously scattered through the Unveiled event at Mandalay Bay.
After walking for what had to be at least a mile through the caverns of Mandalay Bay Resort…NOT an exaggeration…we finally gained admittance to the Unveiled event along with roughly 1500 members of the press and hopeful exhibitors..
Some product lines, like offerings from Linksys, Lenovo and drone manufacturer DJI, were clearly defined improvements over existing products…
Other displays, such as the French company that proudly showed the “Lovebox” a way to “send secret messages to your love” were a bit harder to nail down as to how useful they might actually be.
Many things that debut at CES solve problems you didn’t even know you had. It’s been reported that VR headsets can make you physically ill with motion sickness because your inner ear and your eyes disagree. ReliefBand, originally made to help people on boats stop heaving their guts out over the side…also known as chumming for fish…had a presence with a new product that promises a drug-free prevention measure for upchucking all over your computer when you have had the goggles on just a bit too long.
The device purportedly works by stimulating the medial nerve in the wrist, which according to the literature, blocks the “I’m gonna hurl” messages from your unhappy tummy. Brenda tried it, but the only thing she actually noticed was that it zapped her a good one when she tried to remove it. We did, however score a prototype model, to evaluate in a more nautical environment.
Finally…when it comes to solving problems you didn’t know you had…nothing so far seen can beat “42Tea” Because humankind has been making tea for roughly 4000 years, but apparently we just can’t get it right without resorting to a connected gadget that tells you precisely the correct temperature of the water and how much Earl Grey you should use via a smartphone app. And there is it, CES offering the answer to Life, The Universe and Everything…with apology to fans of Douglas Adams.