The good, the bad, and the bizarre from CES


January 8, 2020

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You can’t spell success without “CES.” But CES also rhymes with “BS”… and yesterday, CES seemed to be a mixture of trash and treasure. We’ve got yesterday’s best, worst, and ugliest below — and we’ll be back with another recap tomorrow. Today:

  • CES featured connected bath mats and Avatar-themed EVS
  • New York state proposed a public Venmo without the fees
  • More spilt milk signals the downfall of American dairies

Have a great Wednesday.

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The Hustle Daily Email

The best — and most bizarre — from Day 1 of CES

The Consumer Electronic Show (CES) kicked off its first full day yesterday in Las Vegas. As usual, the event featured the best, the brightest, and the most bizarre tech out there. 

Here are 3 trends we noticed on Day 1:

1. Car culture is still in the fast lane

The cars of the future may not look like your mom’s Mazda (and they may not guzzle the same gas). But judging by yesterday’s hype, car culture isn’t going anywhere.

  • Electric cars were everywhere. Established automakers like Audi and Mercedes-Benz showed off sleek new electric designs, but so did less-established car companies like Fisker, Faraday, and Byton.
  • Even Sony made a car, a shocking reminder that the future of automaking is wide open. But the Japanese electronics giant’s electric Vision-S raised a lot of questions (Sony didn’t make it clear if it plans to put the car into production).
  • An Avatar-inspired car from Mercedes-Benz was a glowing, blue symbol of self-driving hype. The scale-covered, steering wheel-less Vision AVTR (for Advanced Vehicle Transformation) ride recognizes the driver’s pulse and breath and moves sideways like a crab — but there are no plans to put the glowing blue beast into production.
  • And fancy in-car entertainment systems were a good reminder that self-driving cars will also usher in a new era where cars aren’t just vehicles but also mobile entertainment centers that have giant screens (see Byton’s 48-inch screen) and myriad infotainment features (see partnerships with Amazon and Accuweather).

2. For better and for worse, everything is connected now 

Technological improvements have made it possible for almost anything to be connected to the internet. But while some smart objects can be wonderful (e.g., the ones that improve accessibility for disabled folks), others can be worrisome (e.g., the ones that dish out personal data).

Some of the most noteworthy connected objects:

  • A razor that’s AI-powered and Bluetooth (The Next Bic Thing)
  • A toothbrush that maps your mouth (Plaqless Pro
  • A toilet-paper dispenser that delivers toilet paper via app (Rollbot)
  • A trash can that ties up its own garbage (Townew)
  • A bathmat that weighs you and tracks health (Mateo Bath Mat)
  • A pillow that analyzes your snoring patterns (Motion Pillow 2)
  • A fake kitten that purrs but has no head (Petit Qoobo)
  • A ball that… just rolls around after you? (Ballie)

3. We’re not sure why, but bendy screens are a big thing now

For years, flexible screens have been treated like a Holy Grail for electronics companies. And whether or not people actually want them, the flexy tech has finally arrived: 

  • Intel unveiled the Horseshoe Bend, a foldable tablet
  • Royole Mirage created a smart speaker with a wraparound screen
  • TCL also unveiled a foldable tablet 
  • Lenovo made a ThinkPad that folds 
  • Dell’s created Ori, which is — you guessed it — a foldable tablet 
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Municipal planning just got reeeeeeal techy

During a press conference at CES 2020 (where else?), Toyota announced plans to build a tech-topia at the base of Mount Fuji. 

Woven City will be a “living laboratory” for Toyota and other companies — it’s open to partnerships — to test innovations.

Will I get my own Rosie?

Actually, yes. Homes will come with robots that handle basic household tasks. Other Woven City highlights include:

  • Embedded sensors to connect buildings, vehicles, and people
  • Only autonomous, zero-emission cars and trucks permitted on primary thoroughfares 
  • Homes built with sustainable materials and powered by a mix of solar energy and hydrogen fuel cells 

Toyota plans to break ground in 2021 and expects about 2k residents — mostly Toyota employees and their families. 

And if you want in, but don’t want to move to Japan…

You’re in luck. Google subsidiary Sidewalk Labs plans to build a smart city in an underused area of Toronto. Some vital deets:

  • Plans include a mix of high-tech residential, retail, and office spaces designed to solve issues like waste disposal and traffic congestion
  • Collected data will become a public asset
  • Development would be overseen by a governmental group called Waterfront Toronto

It’s worth noting that, historically, company towns have been problematic.

During the Industrial Revolution, coal companies established communities that basically ensured they owned everyone’s a**. It might be true that every cloud has a silver lining, but there might be something else lurking behind THE cloud.

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Lawmakers are lobbying for the creation of a ‘public Venmo’

New York state lawmakers proposed the creation of a “public Venmo” system that could offer underbanked New Yorkers a digital payment option. 

It would be like Venmo… but without the fees

A team of politicians and a law professor drafted a bill proposing what they called an Inclusive Value Ledger (IVL). 

  • Like Venmo, this system would allow users to store money digitally and transfer money to other users.
  • Unlike Venmo, this system would not charge fees for instant bank transfers or credit card transactions.

Under the plan, the state of New York would issue digital wallets to all individuals (and businesses) in the state, giving everyone in New York the ability to spend their money without transaction fees or delays. 

Currently, many New Yorkers rely on expensive services like payday lenders or check-cashing services to access their earnings — but the IVL would prevent New Yorkers from losing money to these services, which are often exploitative.

If New York’s plan passes, it could be a model for the rest of the US.

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The Hustle says…

The week’s halfway over. Take a well-deserved break with this game. Objective: Find the invisible cow (…?)

*This is a sponsored post.

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Listen to the episode now: Apple / Spotify / Google Play

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