Consumer Electronics

Live Blogging CES East: The Best (Fake) Gadget Show Ever


Live Blogging CES East: The Best (Fake) Gadget Show Ever

Photo illustration by Shawn Hasto; Photos: Getty Images

Editor’s note: As the Consumer Electronics Show, a massive annual gadget gathering, kicks into high gear today in Las Vegas, we asked three well-regarded tech analysts to stay home and imagine the CES of their dreams. What follows is an entirely delirious and totally fictional live blog. Enjoy.

9:04 a.m.: The first big show on the main stage today is Consolidated Global Industries (CGI), the consortium behind many of the world’s favorite gadgets and the world’s largest lessor of tunnel-boring equipment. The company is one of a wide range of competing tablet-makers at CES this year, from Fujian Heavy Industries to Fu-shuan Large-Scale Industrial. We’re expecting to see a slate of new Android tablets from them, along with their biggest-ever flat-screen TV and a few surprises along the way.

9:10 a.m.: Trivia about CGI: In the U.S. their rubber gaskets are sold as Doritos Loco Taco shells. CEO Gary Li was named as one of Pacific Tunnel Boring and Android Handset Monthly’s top 50 Ecosystem Influencers. A midsize Chinese device developer, the company has 11 million employees in eight locations and is the majority stakeholder in Spain.

9:15 a.m.: Still no Li. During quiet moments, if you listen carefully, you can hear the sound of Android fragmenting. Security has ejected the seven attendees who did not have Macbook Airs in their laps.

9:17 a.m.: A dubstep remix of a Vanness Wu single is playing, and people seem excited. The subtitled lyrics on the screen translate to “My heart is moved by container ships across the ocean of your love.”

9:20 a.m.: Li enters and begins with the customary Android vendor apology.

9:22 a.m.: “This year, CGI is focusing on YOUsers. That is our theme.”

9:28 a.m.: A video montage by will.i.am (possibly his hologram; hard to tell) about “YOUsers” is played, ending with Malala Yousafzai and Pitbull saying “YOUsers” in unison. Li returns to the stage to introduce Gary Lee, U.S. head of marketing.

9:30 a.m.: “Over the past seven years we have built a pipeline to the Earth’s core. We extract the very heat of the planet and turn it into our Cobra processors, based on the ARM architecture. Today we’ll show you how the Cobra 6 enables things you’ll find at just about any CES demo.” Exciting.

9:32 a.m.: Lee brings out a large spool of cable. “This is the charging cord for all of our devices. You plug it directly into the earth one mile down.” Lee also explains coming changes for his company’s cable connectors: “Each charging cable is unique to your device, through the power of 3D printing.”

9:33 a.m.: This is a bit of a rebuilding year for CGI after their rough CES in 2013, when their flagship Bluetoothbrush was declared confusing and their launch of a perfectly spherical TV failed to create the expected demand for perfectly spherical programming.

9:37 a.m.: Lee: “Starting with our new tablets, we will be progressively downgrading our devices to older versions of Android over time, eventually converging all of our users on Windows 3.1, which, let’s face it, was the best.”

9:40 a.m.: In a brisk series of slides, CGI shows off a 7-inch tablet, a 10-inch tablet, a 12-inch-long tablet that’s just 2-inches wide (called The Wand), a phone in each of these sizes, an Etch-a-Sketch, a clipboard with a piece of string tied to it to hold a pen, some old Readers’ Digest Condensed Editions, a Kindle DX, another 7-inch tablet from a different division of the company, a 6½-inch tablet for emerging markets, a Robbins Main Beam 11-foot-diameter tunnel boring machine, and a stack of 43 index cards held together with a binder clip.

9:50 a.m.: Lee introduces a new smartphone case that not only charges your phone but also allows you—or the ones you love—to set limits on how much you can use it. Every time you try to swipe the screen during a blackout period, the case administers a mild electric shock and posts an unflattering picture of you on the social-media outlet of your choice. He just brought Mila Kunis out and shocked her. Awkward.

9:55 a.m.: Next up is Jerri Leigh, vice president of Living Room. She is carrying a rolled up tube.

9:55 a.m.: The rolled-up tube is actually—wait for it—an 11-foot-long flexible flat screen. “This,” Lee says, “is YOUtube.” The assembled tech trade press squints and murmurs in confusion. A trademark violation siren just went off in the back of the hall.

9:56 a.m.: A Google/Boston Dynamics Big Dog trademark-enforcement robot just leapt onto the stage and carried off Leigh. Wonder what this means for Android?

9:57 a.m.: A visibly shaken Gary Li returns to the stage. “Welcome to the year of YOUsers,” he mumbles. Offstage, the Google (GOOG) Big Dog barks.

9:59 a.m.: Unusual ending for a presser, but impressed that they got it all in in less than an hour. Back out to the hall.

10:15 a.m.: It’s not CES without big gaming announcements, so we tried to pay a visit to the gaming pavilion. It seems to be exactly the same as the 2012 gaming pavilion but obscured by thick clouds of flying garbage and millions of seagulls. We were unable to enter the swirling trash tornado, but an X-Box rep did stagger out, bleeding heavily from what looked like beak wounds, and declined to comment. Looks like MS is being cagey about its new platform again. Nintendo (7974:JP) just posted an enormous poster outside the hall that said SORRII. Strange name for a new platform, but so was Wii.

10:35 a.m.: Our team took a quick stroll through the Hall of Connected Wearables, a converted aircraft hangar where teams from around the world are showing off the latest innovations in technology that attaches to users. Here are some highlights:

• The GiveUp is a new LED wristband, created by the Barbarian Group in collaboration with YUM! Brands (YUM), that always displays an arrow pointing you to the closest KFC.

• An entire row of wearables for your feet. From Vibram, the company that makes the shoes with “fingers” for each of your toes, an acquaintance app that alerts people when a Vibram wearer is within 100 feet.

• The enterprise market for head-mounted computing devices is looking more promising now that Obamacare mandates that employers pay for birth control.

• Google is directing its global coterie of chefs to help work on the next frontier after Wearables, in an effort they’ve named Lunchables.

Omni Consumer Products of Delta City apparently has a significant presence at the show, but their wearables seem to be targeted at the civic market and are being shown off only in private demonstrations in their hotel suite.

Samsung Electronics’s (005930:KS) Galaxy Gear team is here, showing off the company’s flagship smartwatch. There have been reports of a bug that causes the watch’s clock app not display the hour hand, but company representatives said: “Nobody’s battery has lasted long enough for that to come up.”

11:20 a.m.: Are wearables the future? We don’t know for sure. We stopped by the booth of Vnsh, the makers of a Kickstarter-backed “abridged reality” wearable headset that deletes any aspects of reality you don’t personally like or approve of. When we tried them on, the entire conference hall disappeared. We still haven’t found a way back.

Tomorrow: We look at the new LG Electronics (066570:KS) Panamax TV, which is so large it functions as a container ship. Plus: Seriously? Drones?

Ford is a programmer and the creator of SavePublishing.com.
Dash is co-founder of Activate and ThinkUp.
Foster is a writer and programmer who lives in Maine. He writes the daily internet news roundup Today in Tabs.

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