The Sphere looking like a giant pink furry playful monster with the city in the foreground and the black sky behind. The monster has big eyeballs that were moving around.

My View of CES 2024

Steve and I are back from a fun-filled week at CES in Las Vegas. I’m sure you’ve heard the huge announcements from the show like transparent television screens, but Steve and I will be bringing you the smaller and often much more practical and useful innovations we saw at CES.

If you haven’t followed our coverage before, let me tell you a little about how we experience the show. CES usually starts mid-week, but we get into town the weekend before because the press events start before the show ever starts. There are three press events: CES Unveiled, Pepcom, and Showstoppers.

These press events aren’t held in the giant convention center halls; rather they’re held in hotel ballrooms with a curated group of vendors. This gives the press an efficient way to go booth to booth and learn about the products the event holders think might be of interest. Some of the press events are better than others but each helped us find interesting products.

People ask me after CES, “What’s the biggest wow you saw at CES?” And I can’t really answer that question because it’s not about the big wow for me. It’s about interesting solutions to real challenges, whether it’s an inventive charging station, a way to protect your back when lifting heavy objects, or a better way to navigate walking if you’re blind.

Since we were in Vegas, we did take in one show – it was called “Postcards from Earth” and it was at the new Sphere Theater. The Sphere is crazy – the entire outside is a giant 366-foot-tall spherical dome that’s also a display. Throughout the day and night, it displays all kinds of imagery (which is quite distracting when you’re driving by it). I got a shot of it when it was a giant furry pink playful-looking monster!

The Sphere looking like a giant pink furry playful monster with the city in the foreground and the black sky behind. The monster has big eyeballs that were moving around.
The Sphere Theater

The theater itself is incredible. Think IMAX on steroids. The entire inside of the sphere is a giant screen, the sound system is phenomenal, and you also feel vibrations and even wind during the show. I know I’m not doing it justice, and we decided to just enjoy the experience rather than try to capture it. I put in a link in the shownotes to a video explaining all about the engineering behind it: The Insane Engineering Behind MSG Sphere Las Vegas.

From a social aspect, CES is a real joy. You’ve heard Sandy Foster on the podcast many times, and the live show audience knows her as my wingwoman. What you may not know is that the reason my blog posts are (mostly) typo-free, thank Sandy as she’s the one who proofreads every single one of them.

Sandy lives in the Las Vegas area, so every year we attend CES, we work out a way to have breakfast with her. After breakfast, a fun coincidence happened. Our daughter Lindsay and her husband Nolan just happened to be staying at the same hotel, so they came to breakfast just to meet Sandy which was super fun.

Allison Steve Lindsay Sandy Nolan.
Lindsay and Nolan got to meet Sandy

We ended up going back to Sandy’s house to see her crazy-cool sewing machine she uses for her amazing quilts, and to play with her lovely dog Chouchou. I often talk about what I didn’t realize I would gain in my life when I picked up a microphone nearly 19 years ago, and our close friendship with Sandy is a perfect example of what’s happened.

Sandy Teaching Quilting Techniques to Steve.
Sandy Teaching Quilting Techniques to Steve

The other fun thing from a social aspect is that we get to meet up with other fellow Apple podcasters. This year, we hung out with Dave Hamilton and Pete Harmon of the Mac Geek Gab, and Chuck Joiner and Norbert Frassa of MacVoices. Norbert runs the cameras while Chuck is the “on-air talent”. It was great fun to meet for breakfast each day, then go our separate ways during the day, and come back with tales of adventure for the evening sessions.

Dave, Chuck, Norbert, Steve, me, Pete at breakfast at the Pantry in the Mirage. I have a gross plate of half-eaten food in front of me which annoys me!
Dave, Chuck, Norbert, Steve, Me, and Pete

We even got to have dinner with Victor Cajiao one night. If you’ve been an Apple podcast listener for a long time, you’ll remember he used to host the Typical Mac User podcast. It was so great to see him after so many years.

Chuck Norbert Victor Steve Allison around a fancy dinner table.
Chuck, Norbert, Victor, Steve & Me

We also got to hang out with Tom Merritt of the Daily Tech News Show. Tom interviewed me after the CES Unveiled event (which you’ll hear in this show) which was great fun. Another night after a press event, Tom, Chuck, and Norbert hung out in a bar and spoke philosophically on subjects of great import.

Steve Tom Allison in a white-walled press booth.
Steve, Tom and Me

Another great personal and professional connection that we enjoy at CES is with Steve Ewell, executive director of the CTA Foundation. The CTA Foundation is affiliated with the Consumer Technology Association (the folks who run CES), and the grants strategically improve the lives of seniors and people with disabilities. You may remember hearing Steve on Chit Chat Across the Pond back in 2017 when he told us all about the CTA Foundation on episode #479.

This year when we connected with him before the show, he invited us to go on a tour with a few other folks where he would highlight some of the more interesting tech in the disability space. The CTA Foundation held a contest and the top five of the submissions were given a free booth at CES and those are the companies we learned about on the tour. Steve and I circled back and did in-depth interviews with two of those companies, Glidance and VisionAid. I’ll leave you with that teaser for a future episode when you’ll get to hear those interviews.

Steve and I did actually go to the real show floor, and while it’s pretty cool to see the crazy big booths with amazing new TV technology and crazy concept cars like the Honda Saloon and Space Hub, I still like the smaller press events better.

Honda Saloon with one gull wing door open to a crazy height. the car is black and sleek with lots of reflectiosn from the lights and a crowd behind it taking photos.
Honda Saloon
Honda Space-Hub. A boxy van with an all glass roof, high doors. it's on a spinning thing and it says Space-Hub behind it with the new silly logo.
Honda Space-Hub

Speaking of Honda, I have to say I’m disappointed in their utter lack of progress in coming out with an electric vehicle. I bought my first Honda in 1978 and we stayed exclusively in the Honda Motor Company family of cars until we sold our last Acura to buy our Teslas. I felt like they showed off the Saloon (a really cool-looking racy futuristic car) and the Space Hub (a dorky-looking futuristic van) just as a way to say, “Hey! Look over here! Don’t notice it’s 2024 and we still don’t have an EV!” They are still promising the Honda Prologue SUV, but it says “early 2024” on their website so it’s still just a dream. They even made a big deal that they changed the “H” of the Honda logo. Ok, enough ranting about Honda.

The convention was in the North, West, and Central halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center, as well as the Venetian Convention Center. Believe it or not, we actually went through all of those halls!

One of the weird things about the booths at the convention halls is that nearly every booth was filled with people who were not authorized to be on camera with the media. It’s kind of baffling really. In an interview you’ll hear on this week’s show, you’ll hear me talking about the cars from a Vietnamese company called Vinfast. I’ll tell you about two of their shipping vehicles, then one coming early this year, and finish with a concept truck from Vinfast. But what you won’t hear is anyone from Vinfast talking.

They agreed to let me talk to them and get a bunch of details like range, price, and probable delivery times, and then I had to remember those stats and regurgitate them while alone on the mic. You know I script my show, and there’s a reason for that – it’s because I find it difficult to keep a lot of details like that in my head.

At one point Steve had recorded me talking about one of the cars, and the woman feeding me the info told me to do it again because I made too many mistakes. Can you imagine the gall? I did do it again because it was a bit clumsy, but afterward, she tried to get me to do it again. She had some suggestions on ways to make it sound better from a marketing perspective. I looked at her and said, “Oh sweetie, I don’t work for you and I’m not in marketing.” She backed off after that.

While it took us nearly an hour to find the two folks who helped feed me information and do the video and audio for the show, what happened after I was done recording was even more interesting. I was approached by a gentleman from Vingroup, the parent company of Vinfast. He asked me if it would be ok if he interviewed me. I couldn’t think why he’d want to do that, but I agreed.

It turned out that he wanted to get my viewpoint on how a Vietnamese company could better penetrate the US market. He asked questions about what the most important things were to US customers and questioned me on the priority of those different features of the car. He also asked about pricing and I explained that they will have an uphill battle because their cars won’t be eligible for any of the Federal tax credit incentives that US car manufacturers enjoy.

Right now you can get up to $7500 off of an EV if enough of the car’s parts, its materials, and the battery are from the US. If not enough is from the US, the credit drops to $3750 or even $0. The math is pretty hard to follow. For example, the cars made by Tesla have enough different components and material technology that only the Performance Model Y and Model 3 are eligible for the $7500 credit and the two lower models only get the $3750 credit.

In any case, it was really fun to have my brain picked by the gentleman from the Vingroup, and I told him I’d connect him up with Bodie Grimm of the Kilowatt Podcast because he’d probably have a lot more insight than I do on the subject.

Overall the show was exciting, fun, and exhausting. We learned a lot, we made some good contacts, and we had a great deal of fun with our friends. Most importantly we got 34 interviews we’ll be playing over the coming months that we think will bring you lots of cool things to learn about.

3 thoughts on “My View of CES 2024

  1. CLETUS HEAPS - January 13, 2024

    Sweet. Looking forward mot the. reviews

  2. Tim - January 14, 2024

    That was a very interesting article. I’m glad you enjoyed CES this year – that had to be more interesting and fun for you.
    BTW, your proofreader missed that it was the Honda “Space-hub” not, as the article said, “space-bus” – but we knew what you meant. Very good

  3. podfeet - January 14, 2024

    Thanks, Tim! She catches typos but not entirely incorrect names! Fixed now.

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