Q: The Consumer Electronics Show came and went a month ago and I’m still waiting for the PropellerHead take on all the exciting new technology they announced – what gives?
A: We just assumed that some sort of AI chatbot was going to write this column for us, but since that hasn’t come to pass – yet – we’ll have to do it ourselves. Still, if the 2019 CES was any indication, Amazon or Google will end up sticking Alexa or Google Assistant somewhere in this write-up before we get to the end of it.
For any of our readers who’ve just learned about electricity since Christmas: The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the annual Las Vegas convocation where big-name tech companies introduce the latest gear, gadgets, and gewgaws that we’ll consign to our attics in twenty years after they enjoy a brief layover in our daily lives as The Next Big Thing We Don’t Know How We Ever Lived Without. If that sounds overly dramatic, consider past hits: VCRs (1970), camcorders (1981), DVDs (1996), and HDTVs (1998).
If CES is nothing else, it’s the place to see huge TVs, and lots of ‘em. There’s your 98-inch 8K set from Samsung (cnet.co/2WSnoSS) and your 75-inch MicroLED “modular” TV, also from Samsung (bit.ly/2GbgdA0) – this one is made up of panels that you can re-arrange into different shapes. LG’s Signature OLED TV R rolls up into its base when not in use (bit.ly/2GsCcS7) like a glowing square armadillo, if those had Alexa and Google Assistant integration.
If you’re a gamer and price is no obstacle, HP introduced a 65-inch 4K UHD monitor for $5000 (bit.ly/2RHKKGP). Steep, sure, but gamers gotta game, right? At half the size and a tenth the price, Samsung’s Space monitor sports slim bezels, a space-saving clamp, and built-in cable management (bit.ly/2Tyttlj).
Several companies launched new smart watches at the show this year (bit.ly/2BmE9w2), from Kate Spade’s stylish Scallop 2 to Withings’ Move ECG (as in electrocardiogram). Sphero introduced Specdrums, “smart rings” that detect what color item you’re tapping your finger on and play different sounds that you customize with their app (sphero.com/specdrums). Embr Labs demonstrated the Wave, a bracelet that warms or cools the “thermally sensitive skin” of your wrist to simulate the chill of an ice cube or “the comforting warmth of a hot drink” (embrlabs.com).
But all the real, smart fun is in the real, smart home of the future. Smart mirrors from various companies recommend clothes for your body type (“Tap here to shop muumuus” – probably my new mirror), display the news and your schedule for the day (thanks to Google Assistant integration), or preview different hair and make-up options using augmented reality. See bit.ly/2SgzGG5 for which company makes which of these mirrors.
But a home is not a smart home without a clever loo, and that’s where the Kohler Intelligent Toilet comes in (bit.ly/2TxrDkE). With Alexa integration (really), “adjustable water temperature, pressure, and spray,” a heated seat, ambient lighting, an automatic deodorizer, an automatic lid, and speakers with wireless streaming, this promises to be the smartest thing you’ve pooped on since that scathing review of Rushmore you wrote for the high school newspaper.
Maybe it’s your cat that needs an iPotty? Check out the LavvieBot (lavviebot.com), a self-cleaning litter box that beams your cat’s weight and, um, “business schedule” to the included “PurrSong” smartphone crapplication. Need to know if Mr. Whiskers BMs in the PMs? Kohler can’t help you there! Who’s the smart can meow?! Bye-bye, “there’s an app for that” – hello, “there’s a crap for cat!”
If a cat is exactly the opposite of what you crave, Groove X introduced the Lovot, a robot that “can beg for attention and follow you around” (engt.co/2HVE9sS). Instead of trying to explain how weird it is, we’ll just tell you it’s from Japan.
Who knows what weird and wacky widgets they’ll think up next? Whatever they are, we’ll cover them here in eleven short months when they debut at CES 2020. In the meantime: “Alexa, warm up this seat and play my throne room tunes.”