Thursday, September 21, 2023

CES loses touch and feel

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It’s pretty dead along the Las Vegas Strip right now, but to be fair it’s also around 3 a.m. Pop anytime via the great WorldCams site and take a look. Internet video is about as close as any of us are going to be in Vegas this week, even if it’s CES®, the conference formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show.

Last year, you may remember, Fortune chaired a conversation with Waymo CEO John Krafcik, who told Adam that the company’s fleet of autonomous Pacificas and other vehicles had reached 20 million miles. Since then, the company has raised massive outside funding of $ 3 billion and opened its robotaxi service to the general public in Phoenix, although it has yet to expand the taxi fleet to new cities.

This year, we are staying at home for a virtual brainstorming on green technologies with Schneider Electric innovation director Emmanuel Lagarrigue, founder of DBL Partners Nancy Pfund and national security expert Amos Hochstein.

As for me, there will be no walking the aisles of the crowded Las Vegas Convention Center and other venues to see the latest and greatest technology. The effort of taking miles and miles of real-world product displays and presentations and somehow integrating them into a virtual conference will most likely lead to much less coverage, a focus on the biggest brands and an even stronger desire to return to in-person conferences. Longtime technical columnist Ed Baig, who has attended many more times than I have, put it best in his essay about CES 2021:

Watching a picture from a wall mounted 8K TV that I can’t afford anyway, it’s not the same as marveling at the thing a few feet away, maybe (wink) with a cocktail in hand. I will miss looking, touching and feeling other products that I would normally write about from the showroom, film a video, or decide to review later. Often times these are fun or wacky things that will never see the light of day. Or something that by its very nature draws a crowd, like the resurgence of sex toys at CES last year.

Yet we persevere. Over the weekend, Lenovo released its new entry in the smart glasses raffle, named the ThinkReality A3 glasses. The lack of “handy” areas where journalists can take a first “test drive” of new gadgets is probably CES in person’s biggest loss for me. Lenovo says the A3 glasses allow you to see a few full Windows desktops thrown in the air in front of you. Keeping projected virtual desktops crisp and detailed, but not shaky or jerky, seems like a feat. We’ll have to wait a bit longer to find out if they were successful this time around.

So stay tuned for more CES coverage as seen from my laptop screen.

Aaron Pressman


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