back to article CES 2017 roundup: The good, the bad, and the frankly bonkers

It's that time of year again, when over 100,000 people cram into the Las Vegas Convention Center to show off the latest in consumer electronics gizmos, make deals, and exchange interesting viruses to get the inevitable conference cough. This year's CE has been about par for the course – dull keynotes, some interesting gadgets …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The jeans, and jean shorts, come with builtin chips and a vibrating gizmo on each side that rumble to direct the wearer"

    They are missing the obvious place to put the gizmos. A friend in the 1970s used to wear her denim jeans without panties because she liked the effect of the large inner seam when moving. She used to ride her horse bareback in all respects too.

    1. James O'Shea Silver badge

      so... nothing came between her and her Calvins, eh?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Thumbs up for the gratuitous Brooke Shields reference. She was 15, I was 10, the atlantic separated us, nothing happened, quelle surprise.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >"The jeans, and jean shorts, come with builtin chips and a vibrating gizmo on each side that rumble to direct the wearer"

      "At the roundabout, go straight ahead..."

      A surprisingly popular direction.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Still, now you can follow some girl staring at her ass and then claim you're just getting satnav directions...

      1. h4rm0ny
        Paris Hilton

        And now she can legitimately tell you to get lost? ;)

    4. Tom 7 Silver badge

      A friend of mine found his girlfriend modifying the pillion seat of his motor bike for better grip when cornering. Best use of gaffa tape ever apparently.

  2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    Re: AirBar

    "But it's a cunning invention that is unobtrusive and very useful."

    I'm not saying that it isn't nifty and usefull, but it's too much like the HP-150 from 1983 to be a new invention.

    1. Down not across

      Re: AirBar

      'm not saying that it isn't nifty and usefull, but it's too much like the HP-150 from 1983 to be a new invention.

      I still have couple HP-150s with the HP2647A no less :-)

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: AirBar

        Whilst it might have some niche use cases, there are other ways to achieve much of the same functionality, often with additional advantages.

        - The MacBook screen can be mirrored to a tablet with 3rd party software.

        - Individual tool pallets on macOS can be controlled from an iOS app, depending upon the software.

        - For extended use, the location of a Macbook's screen isn't ideal

        - For for hand and finger gestures correlating to certain parts of the screen (for presentrations, for example) a Leap Motion controller could be suitable.

        - Use a Windows PC instead. This gives less distance between the user's finger / stylus and the pixels, thus reducing parallax error. Also, stylus import will be more nuanced and accurate. The same advantages can also be had by:

        - Use a Cintiq touchscreen monitor in conjunction with the MacBook, or a standalone Citiq tablet.

        - Use an iPad Pro with stylus

        I'm not saying that the AirBar doesn't have a place, but it isn't without competition from existing ways of doing much the same thing. That is why I was surprised to read that a lack of touchscreen was a 'consistent complaint' amongst Mac users. It's also worth noting that the company Modbook - who turned Macbooks into touch screen tablets - hasn't posted any 'News' on their website since November 2015... lack of demand, I assume.

        1. joed Silver badge

          Re: AirBar

          I'd say that touch is major detriment of any new PC. Not sure why anyone would like to suffer on Mac

      2. elbow

        Re: AirBar

        2647 APL terminal? Drool.

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: AirBar

          2647 APL terminal...

          In a previous life, I modified the code in the Data General D200 video terminal to support the APL character set (including overstrikes). It became a (Special Systems) product. Not many were sold.

          I learned APL in university, solely to avoid having to do reams of multiply/adds in my Linear Algebra course. Once you've taken the determinant of one matrix, the fun kinda goes out of the process...enter APL. The next year, they offered an APL version of the course.

        2. Mpeler
          Paris Hilton

          Re: AirBar - HP2647

          Does it support HPWord? (or have the ROMs?)

      3. Mpeler
        Pint

        Re: AirBar HP150

        I have an unopened, shrink-wrapped copy of HP NewWave :)

        Thanks for the memories. I had to convince some of my FAMs that the 150 was corporate standard as opposed to the MACs, etc. The laughter (even if only thought) is still echoing in my head. Having said that, the touchscreen, like a lot of the tech coming out of the old HP, was ahead of its time.

        Anyone remember Spectra-Physics? They bought 3D Systems in 1988 or so, to jump into the market for 3D printing. Sadly, neither the market, nor the (affordable) computing power to support the printers existed at the time...sigh...

  3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    Re: "AI"

    "If the IT industry wants to avoid AI becoming nothing more than a buzzword, it needs to pull itself together and stop over-egging the pudding."

    Way too late.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: "AI" -Way too late

      They were already doing it back in 1972 when some researcher advised the government that computers were already powerful enough, it was software that was needed.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Way too late."

      Totally Agree. Look at how the media just parrot off analysis without any critical examination in sight.... "Analysts have said"... (Its Like God Spoke....)

      http://www.rte.ie/news/2017/0104/842707-ai-set-to-be-biggest-tech-trend-of-2017/

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cruise ship IoT wearables

    El Reg seems to have overlooked the cruise ship wearable IoT tokens. With 3,560 passengers and 1,346 crew - what could possibly go wrong?

    This will allow passengers to:

    Unlock their cabin doors automatically as they approach

    Find the location of friends and family onboard the ship

    Pay for merchandise without using cash or a credit card

    Navigate from one place to another on the vessel

    Connect guests to a gambling platform accessible around the ship

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-38504219

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Cruise ship IoT wearables

      Just perfect for those nonagenarian who only want to perfect their bridge scores ...

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cruise ship IoT wearables

      Surprised this took so long. This is fundamentally the same tech that theme parks have been using for a good few years already now. In Disney they're branded MagicBand. I got a look at some of the tech that underpins its backend a couple of years ago. It is both awesome and terrifying at the same time, given how strongly it's targeted at children. Think real-time command centre overseeing the location/profile/spend/estimated mood etc. of every single person in the park, on one big wall-sized screen.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cruise ship IoT wearables

        The Disney MagicBand seemed to me to be a way to get customers to part with extra money for their park ticket... (from about $13* through to $26* depending on whether you want a boring one or one with a picture of Elsa, Anna or maybe Olaf. (* Plus tax, as a reminder for those of us who live on the right hand side of the sea of madness).

        If you're visiting Disneyworld from abroad, you'll usually get "Fastpass+" functionality thrown in for free with your credit card sized ticket, which has the same RFID chip built into it as the Magicband. You can then pay for your ticket to be cloned to a Magicband if you can't be bothered to take your ticket out of your pocket to enter the park or use the Fastpass queues, or can't be bothered to take your credit card out of your pocket at the tills of the overpriced shops.

  5. YeahRight

    Well...

    Satnave jeans for wimmin are justifiably getting ridiculed for being patronising nonsense. But... Satnav that nudges the wearer in the right direction might have a lot of uses. Fitted to a helmet, jacket or safety gear it could be a winner in hostile environments where holding a screen might not be practical.

    I ride motorbikes and it might be preferable to having a satnav on a wobbly handlebar mount

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      I quite agree

      The smart jeans are naff, or at least their suggested use. But haptic feedback from satnav is a brilliant idea. I seem to remember seeing something last year about shoes with it fitted. And haptic feedback works even when audible instructions are impractical.

      How about when you're wandering through a big, strange city? Holding expensive phone in hands is recipe for robbery. Or you're carrying things in both hands? Or if you're blind - guide dogs avoid obstructions, but they don't usually respond to "take me to Nando's". How about police, military or James Bonds trying to silently approach a target? And @YeahRights biking and cycling of course.

      Someone could make serious money with a bluetooth gadget that hits in the shoes, or on the wrist or wherever.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Haptics for directions/navigation

        They already have a bluetooth device for this you are looking for - any sort of earphone will work MUCH better for navigating without your phone, because directions aren't always left or right. Plus it is helpful to be told in advance "turn left in 500ft" so maybe you decide to cross the street one block early because the 'walk' sign is already lit in that direction when you go by. You could connect only one earbud if you want to still hear what is going on around you, or simply one use one of the Jawbone type phone ones that go in only one ear.

        Haptics for directions is far too limited to be useful, unless there are all kinds of weird signals you have to learn like "double vibrate left shoe means left turn soon (for some definition of 'soon') but not yet", "three quick vibrations both shoes means you've gone past your destination, do a 180 and walk in the other direction", etc.

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Haptics for directions/navigation

          But... the earpiece could mess up that fantastically styled hair that was done with that fancy brush.

          In my experience with women, messing with their hair is a big NO-NO. Just don't go there. my current Mrs turns into {see icon} If I mess with her hair before she has shown it off to whoever.

      2. PhilipN Silver badge

        ...on the wrist or wherever....

        You mean like this one :

        https://happic.co

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: ...on the wrist or wherever....

          If it twerks...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I quite agree

        The BBC presenter seemed to suggest that placing two buzzers in one's pockets would allow the same effect and the ability to change clothing and replace batteries. Patent not pending dibs on flagging prior art for the USPTO.

      4. h4rm0ny

        Re: I quite agree

        Put it in the toe of your shoes. A small vibration there as you approach your turning would be noticeable and intuitive.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Well...

      I once met up with a slightly-built female acquaintance in a bar in a city she wasn't familiar with. She told me she didn't like navigating from her hotel to the bar whilst holding an expensive phone. And to be honest, for the amount of information she was gleaning from ( Forwards, Left, Right etc) a super-duper IPS screen was overkill; a few LEDS or the movement of hands on an analogue watch face could have done just as well.

      Haptic navigation isn't a bad idea, but putting it jeans seems strange idea to me. Putting it in a belt would be a better solution because:

      -A single belt can be worn with many different trousers. Hell, make the belt reversible with black on one side for formal occasions, another colour on the reverse for casual wear.

      -Belts are already routinely removed from trousers before the trousers are washed.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Well...

        A single belt can be worn with many different trousers

        Especially if it is black. I still have some fond recollections of a slightly-built female acquaintance of mine I was walking home after a night out my first year in Uni.

        She told me off to stop trying to be a hero and shoved me off to the side to crack the skulls of two 2m tall, 90kg+ gorillas in the subway (she was definitely slightly built - 45 kg, 1m 60cm). She did have a belt in the right color scheme. Nicely matching her ... err.. jeans..

        So if you are really uncomfortable with carrying, going, etc in a particular are either do not do it at all, or do it with the right person (even if that person is your dear self).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Well...

          "So if you are really uncomfortable with carrying, going, etc in a particular are either do not do it at all, or do it with the right person (even if that person is your dear self)."

          So what happens when said area is the ONLY way in or out of your neighborhood/complex AND there's no right person around?

      2. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Well...

        In cities I am unfamiliar with I have often used phone satnav just by listening to audio on headphones - fine for walking around, phone can happily be kept in pocket out of the way.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well...

      Never heard of speakers? Have them fitted to my flip lid so get instructions as I ride.

    4. John Presland

      Re: Well...

      Get a Garmin SatNav designed for a bike. Mine wrongly thinks the roads in my village haven't yet been asphalted and that when I go through the nearest motorway tunnel I'm actually driving across a field, but it doesn't wobble.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well...

        Or when lost in Italy because the road on the satnav map that it thinks has been built hasn't been finished yet.

    5. Esme

      Re: Well...

      I know a couple of folk with very poor eyesight that might well find that form of guidance output helpful. If the things can be asked directions by voice input, then jeans that can indicate which way to go might well have some kind of market. Just not the stated one.

      OTOH the beltidea is better for the reasons given (usability on other items of clothing, etc)

    6. Lobrau

      Re: Well...

      Good call. Would also be preferable to what amounts to mumbled directions from the bluetooth headset at speed and shouty ones when riding slowly.

  6. moiety

    The Project Valerie is way more practical than the Acer Predator, depending (of course) on what the final price point might be; but there's a fair amount of leeway there before they hit 9 bloody thousand. The screens don't pull out, by the way, there's "an automated deployment mechanism".

    You wouldn't want either one on your lap, fair enough, but my current daily driver is a gaming laptop that looks about as big folded as the Valerie thing and I never have that on my lap either

    Project Valerie site

    Acer Predator to scale. (Warning - the presenter's a bit shouty). It's an impressive machine, but gaming on the Valerie would be a much better experience if the internals can handle it.

    1. Down not across

      Project Valerie

      The Project Valerie is way more practical than the Acer Predator, depending (of course) on what the final price point might be; but there's a fair amount of leeway there before they hit 9 bloody thousand. The screens don't pull out, by the way, there's "an automated deployment mechanism".

      I'd actually quite like the Project Valerie as a work laptop. Finally enough screen estate without resorting to external displays.

      but gaming on the Valerie would be a much better experience if the internals can handle it.

      Given it has GTX1080 (and I would suspect CPU to be a beefy i7) I don't see why it wouldn't handle most stuff quite nicely.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: Project Valerie

        Not much use as a "latop" but seriously neat for a portable development machine. I recently needed a new daily-use machine and ended up with an MSI 'gaming' laptop, simply to get serious oomph, big SSD (and a 17.3" screen). I really like the idea of the Valerie screens.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Project Valerie

          I don't think that the Predator was designed to be practical! It's more a concept machine that will be sold in small numbers. For that reason, I don't Acer is taking the piss - gamers have lots of options, and so don't have to buy it, especially when they can get most of the experience for a third of the price.

          For those of you looking for a lot of mobile grunt but don't want a machine that looks like plastic Lamborghini made for 12 year boys, the Gigabyte Aero could fit your bill: http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=6176#kf

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Project Valerie

          One big problem - it is a machine for the right handed, touch pad in place of a numeric keypad and of course there is no numeric keypad.

          If they sorted those things out it would be the ideal unit when working in different companies offices.

          1. brotherelf

            Re: Project Valerie

            I'm sure the could fit in something akin to the old ThinkPad butterfly keyboard to fix that.

        3. Ogi

          Re: Project Valerie

          > Not much use as a "latop" but seriously neat for a portable development machine.

          I was going to come here to post the same thing. I know people in the oil and aeronautical defense industries, and they would love something like this. Especially as (AFAIK) no laptops support two extra screens in addition to the main one (at best you can add one external monitor, but my info might be out of date)

          They have their nice dual/triple screen setups at the office, but when they get shipped abroad to work in the field, you can only really take what fits in carry on luggage. So they usually have to make do with much less screen estate.

          The aeronautical guy used to have the "dual screen" fold out thinkpad from a while back, and he really liked it (although he said he wished it had full size second screen, rather than the portrait one). Apparently when doing some CATIA work you want as much screen real estate as you can get.

          As such there is a demand for things like Valerie. Think of it less as a "laptop" and more a "luggable computer", something that packs up nice and easy, but you can unpack it on a desk to use as a portable workstation.

          These people don't mind if it is an inch thick, as long as it fits into carry on, the extra weight they will survive (it will definitely be smaller and lighter than a laptop + 2 normal monitors & stands packed away) and usually they get decent expense budgets, so they could buy the machine if it is what they needed (saw one of them spend £10,000 on a desktop workstation, so no shortage of money for the right tool there)

          1. moiety

            Re: Project Valerie

            @Ivan 4 - The predator does have a numeric keypad...it's shown on the video and is on the underside of the touchpad...the whole unit comes out and you use whichever side you want. So you can have a touchpad OR a numeric keypad, but not both. I daresay the $10 or whatever for a mouse isn't going to add too much trauma after coughing up 9 grand for the machine.

          2. DaddyHoggy

            Re: Project Valerie

            Your info is a little out of date - My current work laptop is a GTX980M based machine - it will drive it's own screen plus two externals no problem - using NVSurround it will actually drive 3 matched external screens (but not the in-built screen at the same time) via 1x HDMI and 2x mini-DP

            I too like the Valerie and it's about the same weight (claimed 5.5kg) as my old Dell XPS M1730 (which had SLI 9800s in it, a power brick the size of a substation and a battery that was effectively only a UPS)

          3. Jeff Cook

            Re: Project Valerie

            I'll second the being able to have the extra screens when working remotely. Plus it would be fun to see the double-takes when firing up a project Valerie-type system at Starbucks when I get called on the way home because someone did something wrong and it has to be fixed ASAP. You can get two external monitors for a laptop but apparently it depends on the docking station (YMMV) so you're still stuck with one screen when you travel.

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