CES 2019: ‘I feel my sanity draining away’

The LG screen wall is photographed by a smartphone userImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption The sights and sounds of CES can, at times, overwhelm

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.

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.

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?

Other tech that impressed included a flying drone bike for police – helpful for securing airports? – autonomous farm vehicles and a ride-on drone.

But CES is also home to the flat out weird. Every year, seemingly bizarre products jostle for attention, investment and potential future customers.

Image copyright Foldimate
Image caption Foldimate promises to tackle the back-breaking work of folding laundry

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.

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.

With gadgetry becoming ever more common in domestic situations, there was a surprising amount of cookery at the trade show.

More from CES 2019:

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.

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.

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.

That’s right, Dave. See you then!

Read and watch all our CES coverage at bbc.com/ces2019

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