Generative AI fever was expected to sweep through tech land and dominate CES, the year’s premiere consumer electronics trade show in Las Vegas this week. But you’ll have to wait another year, industry observers said. Instead, a handful of new gadgets showcased the potential for artificial intelligence to take on a broader range of tasks. Some aim to simplify people’s lives by automating tedious tasks, such as cooking or cleaning. Others aim to improve health and safety, while others aspire to turn humans into better fighters or athletes.
One of the most prominent examples is a robot called Jibo, a small, white device that aims to help people stay physically and mentally active like fitness trackers. It has a touchscreen and sensors that monitor heart rate, breathing, steps taken, and sleep quality to recommend activities such as walking or meditating. It also tracks the user’s movements and can respond to voice commands to answer questions.
Other examples of the latest uses of AI include a headset that lets people see the world through their own eyes using 3D virtual reality, a robotic arm that can grab objects in a room, and a camera that can see in low light and capture blurry images. Tech companies also showcase AI-powered smart speakers that let people control their home entertainment systems by voice.
Aside from these gadgets, many other technologies are on display. These include augmented reality software that can overlay information onto the real world, wearables that use voice recognition to keep track of personal data, and assistive technology that lets people who suffer from speech impairments speak with natural voices again. Several sessions are being held to address the ethical use of AI, including discussions of issues such as data privacy and job displacement.
Several auto-related innovations are on display, including BMW and Mercedes-Benz’s partnership to build self-driving cars and a concept car that uses e-ink to change colors as the vehicle travels. Tech companies are also showcasing new computer chips designed to handle the heavy lifting of AI, meaning that more of this work is done locally on a device rather than in remote cloud data centers.
Despite the absence of many big-name players because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s show has attracted 130,000 visitors. It’s up from the 115,000 who attended in 2022 but still well below the 171,000 who visited in 2020, just before the pandemic began.
While some of the biggest names in the electronics industry are skipping CES this year, plenty of smaller firms aim to jump on the AI bandwagon. The new products they introduce hold out the promise that they will make life better for consumers by eliminating repetitive tasks and freeing them up to spend more time on fun stuff.