CES 2019: PEO­PLE WILL BUY MORE SMART STUFF, FEWER TVS

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The CES 2019 gad­get show is revving up in Las Ve­gas. Here are the lat­est find­ings and ob­ser­va­tions from Me­dia re­porters on the ground as tech­nol­ogy’s big­gest trade event gets un­der­way.

MORE SMART DE­VICES, FEWER TVS

What gad­gets will Amer­i­cans buy this year? Lots of “smart” de­vices for their home, ac­cord­ing to pro­jec­tions from a tech­nol­ogy as­so­ci­a­tion.

If that sounds a lot like last year, you’re right, but sales are still ex­pected to grow again in 2019.

The Con­sumer Tech­nol­ogy As­so­ci­a­tion ex­pects nearly 37 mil­lion Ama­zon Echoes, Google Homes and other smart speak­ers to be sold this year in the U.S., a 5 per­cent in­crease from a year ago. Mean­while, more than 29 mil­lion smart door­bells, ther­mostats and switches are ex­pected to be sold, a 23 per­cent in­crease from the pre­vi­ous year.

The num­bers were re­leased Sun­day, two days be­fore the CES 2019 gad­get show opens to at­ten­dees in Las Ve­gas. CTA runs the show, which is tech­nol­ogy’s largest trade gath­er­ing.

The group warned that its pro­jec­tions could change sig­nif­i­cantly if a trade war with China es­ca­lates. Much of the world’s elec­tron­ics are as­sem­bled in China, and the CTA has said that steeper tar­iffs could hurt the in­dus­try by mak­ing smart­phones or TVs more ex­pen­sive for con­sumers.

Other gad­gets ex­pected to sell well in 2019: wire­less ear­buds, smart­watches and drones. Fewer TVs are ex­pected to be sold, how­ever — 42 mil­lion units, a one per­cent de­cline from 2018.

To­tal U.S. tech rev­enue, which in­cludes video and mu­sic stream­ing ser­vices like Spo­tify, is ex­pected to rise 3.9 per­cent to a record $398 bil­lion this year, the CTA said.

STEER­ING WHEEL TOUCH­SCREEN

Ready for a smart­phone-like touch­screen on your car’s steer­ing wheel?

That’s the fu­ture ac­cord­ing to Chi­nese elec­tric car­maker By­ton, which is plan­ning to sell its first ve­hi­cles in China this year and in the U.S. in 2020.

By­ton CEO Carsten Bre­it­feld un­veiled the new driver in­ter­face sys­tem Sun­day at the CES 2019 gad­get show in Las Ve­gas. He says the wheel-mounted touch­screen on the com­pany’s first model, called the M-Byte, “will stand still while the steer­ing wheel ro­tates.” The crossover SUV also fea­tures a long dig­i­tal screen across its dash­board.

By­ton ex­ec­u­tives say they’ve met with le­gal au­thor­i­ties in var­i­ous coun­tries to en­sure the en­ter­tain­ment and con­trol sys­tem meets safety stan­dards. They say it’s safer than dash­board touch­screens be­cause the wheel’s al­ready in a driver’s field of vi­sion.

The ve­hi­cles are ex­pected to sell start­ing at $45,000.

GOVERN­MENT SHUT­DOWN

Even the world’s largest tech con­fer­ence is feel­ing the ef­fects of the U.S. govern­ment shut­down.

Or­ga­niz­ers of the CES gad­get show said Saturday that some sched­uled govern­ment speak­ers have can­celed their travel plans. The sprawl­ing con­sumer-elec­tron­ics show opens to at­ten­dees on Tuesday in Las Ve­gas.

Can­celed speak­ers in­clude Fed­eral Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion Chair­man Ajit Pai and at least nine other of­fi­cials from agen­cies in­clud­ing the Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion, the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion and the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity.

CES or­ga­niz­ers say Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Elaine Chao is still plan­ning to de­liver a key­note talk Wednesday on fed­eral ini­tia­tives to ad­vance drone tech­nol­ogy and self-driv­ing ve­hi­cles.

The par­tial shut­down be­gan Dec. 22, but some fed­eral work­ers re­main on the job if they per­form es­sen­tial ac­tiv­i­ties that “pro­tect life and prop­erty.”

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