CES 2019: 'I feel my sanity draining away'
CES – a tech trade show where the exhibit hall spans 2.7 million sq ft (250,000 sq m) – can leave attendees either enthralled or burned out.
With more than 160,000 techies, journalists and businesspeople in attendance, there was plenty of chatter on social media.
For those who spent significant time on the show floor, perhaps Ed Zitron, chief executive at EZPR, summed it up best after he was confronted with a light that promised to visualise his body temperature in colour.
"Come see your mood," a sign beckoned.
He turned to Twitter to get things off his chest and sent out a highly amusing thread. (Note: this link contains some strong language).
Others discovered more arresting escapades.
Skip Twitter post by @kymber_lim
CES in full swing! RT @MSweetwood: Experiencing the amazing #LG #OLED Mega Screen @CES #shotonLG #LGV40ThinQ #CES2019 @LGUSAMobile pic.twitter.com/xdpO9x77pJ
— Kymber Lim (@kymber_lim) January 10, 2019
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There was plenty of interest in screens, as usual. LG was widely applauded for its jaw-dropping installation that featured a mass of screens curved into a wibbly sort of half-tunnel.
Many CES visitors caught themselves transfixed as colourful imagery from nature flowed above their heads.
And curved screens, generally, were a feature of the show according to industry analyst Benedict Evans at venture capital firm Andreesen Horowitz.
Examples included the Royole Flexpai bending smartphone and LG's roll-up TV sets.
Skip Twitter post by @benedictevans
The diffusion of flexible screens could be quite interesting for product design. No need for a flat black rectangle. pic.twitter.com/wEuubYShJ1
— Benedict Evans (@benedictevans) January 10, 2019
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Geoff Blaber at market analysts CCS Insight was inspired by something else: a video system that can insert imagery onto or around a person during a live video feed.
A new way to advertise on-the-fly?
Skip Twitter post by @geoffblaber
This is smart. Designed for in-video advertising. Perfect for your YouTuber, e-game player etc. Works with any webcam. #CES2019 #tisplay @benwood pic.twitter.com/zIqcbgINqp
— Geoff Blaber (@geoffblaber) January 10, 2019
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Other tech that impressed included a flying drone bike for police – helpful for securing airports? – autonomous farm vehicles and a ride-on drone.
Skip Twitter post by @CoachDaniells
Saw some pretty amazing things @CES Day 2! Curious what will top a drone police bike, boat, helicopter and a raptor! pic.twitter.com/WUmedZ8MKH
— Parker Daniells (@CoachDaniells) January 10, 2019
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Skip Twitter post by @LeoKelion
If you think Gatwick/Heathrow already have problems… #CES2019 #Bigdrone #Imnotgettingonthat pic.twitter.com/7WY52vCbwJ
— Leo Kelion (@LeoKelion) January 10, 2019
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But CES is also home to the flat out weird. Every year, seemingly bizarre products jostle for attention, investment and potential future customers.
Among the strangest this year was a new version of the Foldimate – a device that looks a bit like an office photocopier. It folds t-shirts so you don't have to.
Skip Twitter post by @W_Hernandez16
I love when they show off at CES these machines that can fold your laundry for you the way mom used to do it. I need that in my life ?
— Will Hernandez (@W_Hernandez16) January 10, 2019
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And let us not forget the much-discussed Y-Brush, which aimed to rethink a device that has barely changed in a century: the toothbrush.
Unfortunately, the BBC was unable to trial the device as the company involved had only brought one prototype to the show and refused to share it, citing hygiene.
The promise of a super-fast dental hygiene blitz was not inspiring for everyone, however.
Skip Twitter post by @JacquiDelaney
How lazy does one have to be for this to be a thing? It takes 2 minutes, max, people. TWO MINUTES.
CES 2019: Y-Brush Can Supposedly Brush Your Teeth in Just 10 Seconds | Digital Trends https://t.co/h0e227mASi
— Jacqui Delaney (@JacquiDelaney) January 9, 2019
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With gadgetry becoming ever more common in domestic situations, there was a surprising amount of cookery at the trade show.
More from CES 2019:
- Amazon and Google voice assistants carve up CES
- The expanding door that fights parcel thieves
- LG's see-through and vibrating OLED TVs
Google, of all companies, even had a live cooking demo in which the firm's virtual helper, Google Assistant, orated a recipe.
But BBC Click's Omar Mehtab, seeking hand-made authenticity in Asian cuisine, was left unimpressed by a device that churns out roti flatbreads automatically.
Skip Twitter post by @OmarMehtab
As a proud South Asian, I'm triggered. "Rotimatic" nah ? #CES2019 pic.twitter.com/ifMNpHygWu
— Omar Mehtab (@OmarMehtab) January 9, 2019
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There was plenty of discussion about the news that a sex toy marketed at women was removed from CES – after it won an award.
But female sex tech showed up elsewhere – such as OhMiBod's Alexa-enabled product that allows people to control the toy with their voice.
Skip Twitter post by @benwood
The increasingly diverse applications for voice assistants. @Amazon Alexa integration with @OhMiBod’s BlueMotion massager brings voice control to #sextech at #CES2019. Apple Watch also supported. pic.twitter.com/zREFpI5HEJ
— Ben Wood (@benwood) January 9, 2019
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As one year's CES blooms and fades, the organisers are already planning for the next event. Some, though – including the BBC's North America technology correspondent Dave Lee – may of course need a little reminding.
Skip Twitter post by @DaveLeeBBC
Saw a poster for “CES 2020” and thought it was cute they were future gazing… then it dawned on me that 2020 is NEXT YEAR
— Dave Lee (@DaveLeeBBC) January 10, 2019
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That's right, Dave. See you then!
Read and watch all our CES coverage at bbc.com/ces2019