CES 2019 – Catch up

CES is holding court for all those who thrive on the business of consumer technologies — the global stage where next-generation innovations are introduced to the marketplace. The yearly pilgrimage to Las Vegas is here and let’s catch up on what’s been showcased.

Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic concept

If you’ve ever wanted to be chauffeured around by an invisible driver, pretending you’re in Tron, this is your car. It’s just as cool technologically: an autonomous, modular vehicle, with a mobile platform that you place a specific pod on. For example, you could swap out the passenger section for a cargo pod on moving day. Sadly, it’s still just a concept.

Pong cocktail table

This is one of those ideas that seems underwhelming on paper, but is absolutely amazing in person. The simple two-paddles-and-a-square-puck game is recreated in 3D by two foam paddles and a foam square puck; they’re controlled by a series of magnets and motors underneath the table, while you spin the control wheel to move your paddle. There’s one-on-one or you-versus-AI modes, with three levels of difficulty. There’s an unexpectedly addicting Zen-like quality to the repetition of simple actions (spinning a control dial), combined with the minimalist white-on-black visuals.  

This year’s options include a taller cocktail table version and a colorful, customizable coin-op version designed for arcades.

Samsung Bots

Samsung — literally — rolled out a trio of appealing robots for helping in all sorts of ways. The Bot Air is essentially a roaming air purifier, the Bot Care monitors your health (though the thought of it watching me sleep to monitor my breathing is a bit creepy) and the Bot Retail fetches items like a store clerk.

Bell Nexus

It wouldn’t be CES without a flying car demonstration. This year’s concept is Bell’s hybrid electric air taxi, which the company hopes to start testing in early 2020 before coming up with its actual availability. It’s notable because you might eventually get to sit in one — Bell’s on Uber’s short list of aircraft manufacturing partners for its flying taxi program.

Samsung The Wall

You’d think its 98-inch 8K TV would be called The Wall, but Samsung opted to use that moniker for the first home-sized MicroLED TV — a mere 75 inches — but it’s still the biggest 4K MicroLED TV to date, and an indication that the next-generation TV technology is almost ready for prime time. (Samsung intends to ship a MicroLED TV this year.) No price or availability as yet, though.

KitchenAid Smart Display

You’d think a kitchen-friendly smart display would be built to withstand kitchen messes — no klutzes here, nope! — but it turns out that water resistance is a novelty. KitchenAid comes to the rescue of messy cooks with its splash-resistant entrant into the relatively crowded category. It also offers Yummly recipe recommendations.

That’s all from Sin City today.

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