Some of the largest companies in the world led the way and made headlines in the opening days of one of the biggest tech conferences in the world.
The Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas last week, featured folding phones, walking cars and snarky billboards.
The annual conference gives tech companies big and small the opportunity to present bleeding-edge technologies and outlandish gadgets, with many large companies also using it as a chance to deliver some big news to begin the year.
Google led the way with a large presence at CES, with the company even building its own roller-coaster to display the various uses for the Google Assistant throughout the day. The tech giant also announced a series of new features for the device, including real-time translation, boarding pass support and more integration.
Samsung unveiled its own at-home bot at the conference, with a focus on family members that may need extra assistance. The bot can do regular tasks like tracking sleep, playing music and providing a rundown of the calendar, but can also complete a number of medical-focused tasks, such as helping with exercises, reminding when it’s time to take medications, and can even measure blood pressure and heart rate.
Following on from the unveiling of the world’s-first modular TV using micro-LED technology at the same conference last year, Samsung took things further in 2019 with a more home-friendly version of the technology. The 75-inch television with 4K micro-LED display can be transformed into any shape or size, and each pixel can be controlled individually.
Perhaps the coolest of the many new gadgets on display at CES was Hyundai’s walking car, Elevate. While many futuristic technologies put on show at the conference often have very little chance of becoming a reality, Hyundai even presented a business case for the car with legs, saying it would be ideal for first responders in emergencies such as an earthquake. The legs allow the vehicle to go off-road and navigate difficult terrains and even climb stairs.
While Apple has in the past run into trouble for bending iPhones, a phone that is actually meant to bend was displayed at CES. The FlexPai initially looks like a normal tablet, but it can then be folded down to resemble a phone.
IBM also made an appearance, outlining how it aims to provide more accurate weather prediction using AI, crowdsourced sensor data and in-flight readings from planes.
The “hospital of the future” was exhibited by AT&T, which plans to use 5G technology to improve medical care and service, using the case study of a doctor downloading an MRI scan in seconds while virtually tending to a patient.
Somewhat related, Kohler took the opportunity to unveil a “fully immersive” toilet experience, featuring a heated seat, personalised service, lighting and voice control.
CES courted controversy before it had even began following its decision to ban an adult toy company from exhibiting. Lora DiCarlo had planned to present its first product at the conference after being given one of the CES Innovation Awards, but later said this had been revoked, along with its ability to present at the conference.
The Consumer Technology Association – the organisation behind the conference – initially said that the company’s sex toy product didn’t comply with its rules, which states that products that are “immoral, obscene, indecent or profane” are ineligible, before later saying that it simply didn’t fit into the robotics and drones category.
The decision drew a lot of unwanted attention to CES, which has previously been widely criticised for a lack of female speakers and attendees.
It also came just after the Consumer Technology Association announced a new $10 million fund for women, diverse founders and diverse leadership teams.