Tech show could have used a bit more wow

The Signal - - MONEY - Jef­fer­son Gra­ham

LAS VE­GAS – The $19,000 high-end float­ing bath­tub from Ja­panese man­u­fac­turer Toto was cool, but a cut­tingedge tech gad­get? Not re­ally.

The mam­moth technology con­ven­tion for­merly known as the Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show was stacked with home and bath prod­ucts this year. Though a new Kohler toi­let is blue­tooth-en­abled and lets you flush by ask­ing Alexa to do just that, it was hard to lump these ap­pli­ance up­grades in with some of the tech­no­log­i­cal leaps that re­ally make a mark in our lives.

Af­ter all, this show gave us VCRs, Blu-Ray and DVD play­ers, the Ring video door­bell and those gi­ant TVs.

The story that over­shad­owed ev­ery­thing else was the ri­valry be­tween Ama­zon and Google to get their con­nected speaker technology into as many prod­ucts as pos­si­ble, from speak­ers, stoves, re­frig­er­a­tors and even a shower to re­spond to your wishes.Yes, the cat­e­gory has been around for a few years, but like it or not, based on what we saw on the show floor, vir­tu­ally ev­ery new tech product you’ll be buy­ing in the com­ing months and years is go­ing to re­spond to your voice.

We like the rush to bring voice to prod­ucts, although the idea of spring­ing $1,200 to ask Alexa to turn on the shower just isn’t in our vo­cab­u­lary. (Ask­ing the stove to heat up, if it doesn’t add hun­dreds of dol­lars to the cost, seems plau­si­ble.)

Be­yond the em­pha­sis on ap­pli­ances, we could have used fewer old prod­ucts at a show that should be cel­e­brat­ing the new.

When the Con­sumer Technology As­so­ci­a­tion, the or­ga­nizer of the show, hands the Nis­san car com­pany an In­no­va­tion Award on the eve of the show for the elec­tric Leaf car, you know CES is in real trou­ble. The Leaf was in­tro­duced in 2011.

What we wanted to see at CES 2018? Brand-new gad­gets that made us say wow. There were ro­bots, but they were lit­tle more than the brains of Alexa and the equiv­a­lent of an iPad for smiles. We saw old prod­ucts with func­tion (new Sony blue­tooth ear­buds that ac­tu­ally do what they’re sup­posed to, stay in your ear). But few CES 2018 en­trants pushed the en­ve­lope.

We love DJI’s new Osmo Mo­bile 2, a gim­bal steadicam for your smart­phone, to bring cin­e­matic qual­ity to your hand-held videos, but it’s a 2year old product. That said, DJI low­er­ing the price from $300 to $125 caught our at­ten­tion.

JEF­FER­SON GRA­HAM/USA TO­DAY

CES dis­plays Luka, a line of chil­dren’s ro­bots.

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