With a new year comes a new Consumer Electronics Show, or CES.
The show took over part of the Las Vegas Strip and Google ads were everywhere earlier this month during the event.
Sean O'Kane was in town covering CES for The Verge.
“One of the biggest things to take away from this year is there weren’t a ton of blockbuster announcements but we really did see a return to what you would call the roots of the show,” O'Kane told KNPR's State of Nevada.
By the 'roots of the show,' O'Kane said there were more actual consumer products you that might see on the store shelves or your favorite shopping site.
“We saw a lot of home accessories, wearable gadgets a lot of stuff that isn’t as far out in the future as I think we saw of these companies extending themselves to make them seem over the past couple years,” he said.
He believes it was a nice break from the kind of fanciful stuff that has been shown off in the past.
One thing he still saw a lot of this year was assistants like Amazon's Echo and Google's Google Assistant in everything from washing machines to cars.
O'Kane said last year it seemed like Amazon announced partnerships between Echo and hundreds of companies but this year it seemed like there was more of a balancing act trying to happen.
And many of the hardware makers like car makers and appliance manufacturers were trying to make sure consumers had a choice of Alexa or Google Assistant.
One of the hottest pieces of tech at the show this year was the self-driving Lyft car. O'Kane took a ride in the car, which you could order just like any other Lyft.
“We’ve seen these self-driving demos pretty much every year that we come to CES but this was the most advanced in terms of what a consumer might experience someday if and when they get a chance to hail something like a self-driving Lyft,” he said.
O'Kane said the way the car navigated some of the traffic in Las Vegas was impressive, but a driver still had to get the car out of the convention center parking lot and drive it through the dropoff point at Caesars Palace.
That wasn't the only tech that impressed O'Kane and his colleagues at The Verge:
"This company Synaptics showed up… with a smartphone with a fingerprint sensor under the display at the bottom of the phone. So, to see an actual, technological breakthrough be shown off at CES is a little rare these days."
"One of my favorite things, although I didn’t get to see it up close, was Aibo, which was Sony’s robot dog. It’s the perfect kind of technology that you instantly want and right after you want it you start asking yourself these really tough questions about what happens if I get really attached to this robot dog and then it dies?"
While tech giants like Apple and Google have their own conventions to show off what they're working on, O'Kane doesn't believe CES is going away anytime soon.
"It's the only place you can see all of these ideas in one place," he said.
For the smaller tech companies, they can bring what they're working on and show it to the masses.
Sean O'Kane, reporter, The Verge
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