There was a time when the Consumers Electronics Show, CES as it is lovingly called by whatever companies that are still in love with it, was considered the world’s biggest technology trade show. It was the place where tech companies will show the magical gadgets they were working on. Now, in 2019 CES, which is currently underway in Las Vegas, is a show that you can safely call an exhibition of gimmicks and gadgets no one cares about. In fact, the biggest news so far to come from CES 2019 has been the Apple billboard that trolls Android phone companies over privacy.
That billboard stretched across the side of Marriott hotel can’t be missed by anyone attending the Las Vegas Convention Center. It is positioned for the maximum impact, and it grandly declares, “what happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.” It has made the news in tech press across the world.
Sadly, of late whatever happens at CES also stays in Vegas. CES announcements making news? You can’t say it about any product that has been showcased at CES 2019 so far, and if it has not been showcased so far you can safely assume that the product is even a bigger vaporware — the one that makes no sense, will not likely release — than the ones that have been announced.
The CES 2019 is out of ideas. The CES has been out of ideas for the last 10 odd years. Most of the products and technologies shown at the show never come out and reach consumers
The world has moved on, but CES has not. And that shows in whatever companies are exhibiting at this show. The most exciting announcement so far has come from Samsung, which has showcased impressive Modular MicroLED TV that has a 75-inch screen built using a new kind of technology. The promise is that this technology will enable even thinner panels and TVs will look like painting. Samsung already has something like this called Frame TV but this one is even thinner. While this is an exciting announcement — are you feeling the excitement — there is no date yet on when Modular MicroLED TV will be available to consumers or at what prices. For now it’s just Samsung showing off.
The others are also showing off. But they are showing off in such meaningless way that you don’t even have to pretend that you are feeling excited. Everything is smart at CES… smart TVs, smart fridge, smart mirrors, smart toothbrush, smart drones, smart shoes, smart this and smart that. None of that is shipping right now, even in cases when the products are available for consumers they are either too expensive or so complex despite all their “smartness” they bore people. I don’t want to watch YouTube on my refrigerator so I don’t understand why companies keep demoing at CES their refrigerators that have a web browser built in it.
This is before we move into truly outlandish territory. Here, the CES 2019 is full of gadgets like Smart Wood. Smart what? A company called Mui has made a block of wood that has Google Assistant integrated in it, for what reasons is something no one can fathom. Then there Petcube 2 with Alexa inside it, so you can spy on your parrot — if it has not yet managed to talk to Alexa and turn it off.
Gosh, that is all I want in life, spying on my parrot!
There is Simplehuman’s mirror that has Google Assistant inbuilt. Mirror mirror on the wall, will you manage to ship at all?
There are razor thin laptops that run crappy software and come with a design that is an eyesore. There are more TVs that run more crappy software. There are headphones that are so smart that they do everything except producing decent sound, because that is so old fashioned. There are smart speakers that can’t play a song properly but will tell you the time if you ask it. There are smartwatches that claim to track your heart rate, your blood pressure, your mood, what you are thinking, are you being murderous or not? Don’t you want that?
The CES 2019 is out of ideas. The CES has been out of ideas for the last 10 odd years. Most of the products and technologies shown at the show never come out and reach consumers. It has become a show where companies go just to massage their egos, to showcase to a handful of nerds and tech journalists — who are nerds alright, by the way — a glimpse of fantasy. But just like all fantasies, the vision that these tech companies show of the future is also built in thin air. It vanishes as soon as the stalls at CES are unfolded and packed in trucks.