Lots of ‘Smarts’ at CES

More than 7000 media represented registered for CES; interviews were a common sight.  Photo by Diane Taylor
More than 7000 media representatives registered for CES; interviews were a common sight.
Photo by Diane Taylor

At a New Year’s gathering, I asked the folks in attendance, “Who’s the smartest person you know?” The answers were slow in coming, but finally ranged from a CEO most of us knew to a Presidential candidate.

Next year, the smartest person we know may be a thing….judging from the products on display at CES 2017.

I was overwhelmed with the word “smart” attached to everything I saw – and I saw only a small part of the larger CES. The word “smart” was even attached to water bottles and garage hoists. So many items were in the smart category, I wondered if the future human brain will have any function at all except to stare at smart phone apps and choose the one that corresponds to the function one wants to perform. And of course, the app will talk to the future human brain and do its functions as in: “You haven’t drunk enough water today” or “Let the dog inside; he’s cold.”

Remember when folks used to leave one light burning or the radio on to fool would-be burglars that someone was home? Now with fancy electronics, one can turn on and off lights, feed the cat, learn the contents of a refrigerator and answer the door even when thousands of miles away from home. Interesting stuff? Yes, but can all these clever products survive?

Edwin the Duck has an app that includes games and sing-along songs. The duck can also serve as a night light and can tell Mom the temperature of a youngster's bath water.  Edwin was called "the world's first 'Smart Duck'.
Edwin the Duck has an app that includes games and sing-along songs. The duck can also serve as a night light and can tell Mom the temperature of a youngster’s bath water. Edwin was called “the world’s first ‘Smart Duck’.”
Photo by Diane Taylor

CES in Las Vegas is typically the largest show on the city’s convention schedule. Attendance numbers from 160.000 to 185,000 were part of the local news cycle. Demand affects prices. I sat next to a man and woman from an adhesives company in Philadelphia who made rather last-minute plans to attend CES. The more modest Strip hotels available to them were in the $400-a-night category on up. They ended up at a local motel paying “just” $200 a night.

The number of exhibitors at CES, at 3800 plus, occupy 2.4 million sq. ft. of Las Vegas convention space, roughly the size of 50 football fields. Buses are available to take attendees to and from convention halls and to and from hotels. Breakfast, lunch and evening events hosted by exhibitors are also part of the action, giving more income and employment to local Las Vegans. I sat with a women who reports for a Chinese news service. She noted that even the Chinese were hosting a special evening event at the Wynn Las Vegas for invited guests.

Cars made lots of news at CES, and this Shelby GT350 Mustang in the second-floor Sands Expo lobby attracted lots of attention. It features "the most powerful naturally aspirated Ford production engine ever&quot.  Photo by Diane Taylor
Cars made lots of news at CES, and this Shelby GT350 Mustang in the second-floor Sands Expo lobby attracted lots of attention. It features “the most powerful naturally aspirated Ford production engine ever”.
Photo by Diane Taylor

The media presence at CES is everywhere, and CES treats the media well with free breakfasts and lunches available in multiple media rooms across the convention.

I made brief visits Thursday and Friday to exhibits at the Sands Expo & Convention Center. The first visit was helped by rides from a friend. The second visit, made early in the morning, was made by me driving to the Venetian — and yes, parking was available (to my surprise).

The Consumer Technology Association has been sponsoring CES for 50 years. CES is an incredibly popular show drawing attendees from 150 countries. This is remarkable in one sense, that the folks at Apple do not have a display at the show. The Consumer Electronics Association tells us an estimated 20 percent of CES exhibitors didn’t even exist as companies three years ago.

The attached video features just a few of the exhibits at the Sands Expo & Convention Center.

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