What to Expect at CES 2024

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The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicks off this week in Las Vegas, giving us a glimpse into the latest tech products and innovations. On a recent episode of the podcast This Week in Tech, host Leo Laporte and guests Christina Warren, Devindra Hardawar, and Amy Webb discussed their predictions and analysis for CES 2024.

-AI Everywhere 

AI and machine learning will be major themes across many CES product categories this year. As Laporte points out, even though Apple helped pioneer advanced AI chips in smartphones years ago, many Windows and Android devices are only now catching up with dedicated neural processing units (NPUs) for AI workloads. We'll likely see smaller gadgets boast about "AI inside" as well, from smart home devices to wearables. 

But Webb cautions that hype around AI could lead to disappointment, much like the "AI winter" of the 1980s when the technology wasn't ready for many of its promises. The panelists agree that AI right now works best as an aid or "co-pilot” for humans, not as a complete replacement.


-Foldable and Rollable Phones

With smartphone innovation plateauing, manufacturers are experimenting with radical new designs. Hardawar expects to see rollable phones that can unfurl a large screen and then retract for portability. There may also be foldable tablets and laptops on display. However, the functionality of these devices remains uncertain.

"Nobody needs this," Hardawar says of concepts like huge wireless TVs. The panelists agree that many experimental products at CES never make it to market.


-Faster Connectivity with Wi-Fi 7

While not as flashy as robots, improvements in Wi-Fi speed and reliability could have an impact on consumers. New routers and devices featuring the Wi-Fi 7 standard will be unveiled, promising less network congestion and interruptions, especially for video streaming. This could be a boon for real-time apps and gaming.  


-Quirky Gadgets and Toilets

Of course, CES always offers its share of novelty items and oddball prototypes. Laporte highlights smart toilets that can analyze your health through biomarkers in waste. There will also be offbeat gadgets like headphones utilizing MEMS mini-speakers for better bass, a robot pet sitter, and a custom physical keyboard for iPhone.

Webb sums up the endless novelty items as "a whole load of BS" amidst the more practical innovations. Still, CES 2024 seems poised to give us a glimpse into future tech while remaining anchored in the needs of today's consumers through upgrades like Wi-Fi 7. Stay tuned for more coverage as the show kicks off!

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