CES 2018: What the Gadget Fest Looks Like in ‘the Year of A.I.’
Yet the clear darling of this year’s show was not a gadget but the growing amount of artificial intelligence software helping these products run. The race between Amazon and Google to be the go-to service for integration of consumer products was on full display. In many booths, signs prominently advertised that products worked with Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa. The smart home, car and TV all seemed to have been touched by Amazon or Google.
“It’s the year of A.I. and conversational interfaces,” said J. P. Gownder, an analyst for Forrester Research.
Zipping along the convention floor were robots yielding a host of skills. One robot, Loomo, top, doubles as a hoverboard and a companion that can take photos. Another robot, iPal, above, serves as companion to older and younger users. Designed by AvatarMind, the $1,500 humanoid robot can remind elders to take medicine or greet children at the door.
Sony’s new robot dog, Aibo, also stopped conventiongoers who took time to rub their hands on its hard-surface head.
Google’s presence was easily identifiable with activation centers, games and presenters walking around the convention floor, but Amazon dominated the arena by the sheer volume of products that worked with the Alexa voice assistant, like robovacuums, light dimmers and even mosquito zappers.
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This year’s event featured more than 4,000 exhibitors, including 800 start-ups, and covered more than 2.6 million square feet.
Home appliances like coffee makers, vacuums, ovens and even the cat litter box also received an A.I. upgrade. Samsung’s smart refrigerator, which was on display, allows consumers to control other home devices with their voice and a large touch screen.
The Mercedes-Benz User Experience, known as MBUX, one of many vehicle systems showcasing connected car technology, was a crowd favorite. The in-vehicle system includes a touch screen and understands voice commands
On Wednesday, the power went out for a large portion of the convention center for more than an hour. Many attendees mocked the irony of a giant electronics show lacking electricity.
An earlier version of this article misidentified one of the robots on display at the CES trade show. It is Loomo, which doubles as a hoverboard and a companion that can take photos, not Nimbo, a different robot that works as an intelligent security system that can be programmed to patrol specific routes.