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CES 2019: Of robots and beehives — a look at what stood out

It’s easy to think of CES as a magical, fairy-tale land that exists only for a few days.

The whole thing is basically “Brigadoon” with less singing and more $30,000 massage chairs.

And with around 180,000 attendees, it’s roughly the size of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Now that it’s disappeared into the ether for another year, here’s a look back at some of what stood out.

Least surprising trend: the rise of the machines

Skynet jokes were flying fast and easy, thanks to robots of every shape, size and purpose imaginable. Delivery robots. Laundry-folding robots. Boxing robots. Ping pong-playing robots. Robots to help you sleep. Robots to purify your air. Robots that just want to be hugged. Robots to play with your pets. Coming to CES 2022: robots to play with your robots.

Biggest battle: Amazon’s Alexa vs. Google Assistant

In a trend that could spell even greater doom should the world of “A Quiet Place” ever come to pass, these two are waging a war to make anything and everything voice-activated. Based on the tech available at CES, soon you’ll be talking to your shower, toilet, oven, refrigerator, pressure cooker, bicycle, lawn mower and eyeglasses. And to think, just a few short years ago, that same behavior would have landed you in an institution.

Least intimidating tech: Mui

You can get news and weather updates, send and receive messages, and run other smart devices from this home control hub. What’s so special about that? It’s literally a block of wood with a swipe-to-activate digital display.

Most terrifying development, non-robot division: flying Uber

The company whose business model is built upon one of the three things your mother always nagged you about — along with not running with scissors and always wearing clean underpants — is readying customers to make the leap from getting into a car with a stranger to getting into a flying car with a stranger.

Biggest about-face: Apple plays nice (sort of)

Apple not only never attends the convention but also often tries to steal its thunder. Still, CES 2019 kicked off with a large sign on the side of the SpringHill Suites near the Las Vegas Convention Center that touted the iPhone’s privacy features. Apple’s virtual presence grew to include surprising announcements that consumers could access iTunes via upcoming TVs from Samsung, Sony, LG and Vizio without the need for Apple TV. The tech giant wasn’t nice enough to actually show up — but baby steps.

Least expected beneficiary of new technology: bees

You can be angry at an individual bee or two, but the rapid decline in their worldwide population could prove catastrophic. Winner of a CES Innovation Award, BeeLife’s self-powered CoCoon beehive combats climate change inside the hive while providing a defense against bees’ greatest predator, the Varroa mite. If you save the bees, you save every plant they pollinate and you save the world. Also, more honey barbecue wings for everyone.

Most trusting attendees: visitors to the Orig3n booth

The genetic insight business offered free lifestyle tests that had crowds streaming by to drop vials full of their DNA inside large bins. Have any of these people ever seen “CSI”? You guard those DNA samples with your life until you’re slapped with a court order.

Most promising sign that we might avoid the seemingly inevitable subjugation by robot overlords: La Crosse Technology

The Wisconsin-based company showcased some of its wares above a banner that simply and succinctly stated what they were: analog clocks.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

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