The best CES products cut through the fog of marketing hype at the Gadget Show in Las Vegas to reveal innovations that… It can improve life.
The worst can harm us, our society and our planet in ways that are so “inventively bad” that a panel of dystopia experts described themselves as “the worst in show”.
The third annual competition, which no tech company wants to win, announced its decisions on Thursday.
“From lawnmowers that can be easily hacked to $300 earbuds that will fail within two years, these are the products that put our safety at risk, encourage wasteful overconsumption, and normalize privacy violations,” says the group of consumers and privacy advocates judging the awards. . The contest has no affiliation with CES or the trade group that He runs the show.
They made choices based on how bad the product was uniquely, the impact it could have if it were widely adopted, and if it was significantly worse than previous versions of similar technology.
Judges represent groups including Consumer Reports, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and… The right to repair Calls iFixit.
Your card is dangerous
Automotive technology It is a big focus every year at CES. Two awards were given to automaker BMW, one of which involves a partnership with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant.
Powered by a large language model — the kind of AI system behind chatbots like ChatGPT — Amazon says Alexa's “car expert” will be able to provide “quick instructions and answers about car functions in a more human, conversation-like way,” even acting on your behalf.
Being able to ask Alexa to open the front door or turn off the porch light seems convenient.
But what if it was expressed by a violent ex?
“We have seen an increasing number of horrific stories where people, especially women, trying to escape abusive domestic situations end up using their cars as vectors for stalking and abuse,” said Worst in Show judging panel from Cindy Cohen, executive director. For the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
“Alexa and BMW — and frankly all the car companies racing to turn our cars into tracking devices — need to make sure victims can stop this,” she added.
BMW Group spokesman, Jay Hanson, said that the company designed and provided the voice assistant with privacy in mind, and customers have the freedom to choose whether they want to use it or not.
“BMW and Amazon share a strong commitment to maintaining customers’ trust and protecting their privacy, including giving them control over their data,” he said in an email on Thursday.
BMW is also showing off augmented reality glasses designed by Xreal that are supposed to overlay useful information and virtual objects you'll see in front of you while driving. Another judge called it a “recipe for distracted driving” that could also pave the way for the future of view-obscuring advertising.
The augmented reality experience demonstrated at CES was a showcase of “potential use cases” that could help or entertain people, but reducing driver distraction remains a core principle of what BMW offers customers, Hanson said.
German audio electronics maker Sennheiser showcased the fourth generation of its Momentum True Wireless earbuds, which are usually known to last a while.
But iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens says the latest $300 earbuds are a “brand betrayal” because they're too disposable, with three separate batteries that will likely fail after a few years and can't be easily replaced.
“Start selling batteries and issuing repair instructions,” he wrote. “Then make it easy to replace the battery.”
Sennheiser did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Who asked for more grocery ads?
Nathan Proctor, national campaign director for US PIRG, a consumer advocacy group, chose the new video ads on Instacart's website as “worst in show.” “AI powered” shopping cart..
General Mills, Del Monte Foods and Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream are among the companies that will advertise on the carts during an upcoming trial period at West Coast stores owned by Good Food Holdings.
The cart, equipped with cameras and sensors, has a screen that will share real-time recommendations based on what customers place in the cart, such as advertising ice cream if a customer buys cones.
“It uses historical shopping behavior to push junk foods you've purchased before,” Proctor wrote. “Grocery stores are packed and navigating promotions is exhausting, and I question the rationality of everyone who thinks we should make it worse.”
Instacart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Robotic vacuums and macro devices
The “Worst in Show” award in cybersecurity went to China-based Ecovacs.
Robotic vacuum cleaners aren't new, but Paul Roberts of Secure Repairs says the new Video feed hack.
The “worst in show” environmental impact went to one of the onliners Food technology devices It was shown at CES 2024. Revolution Cooking's $1,800 “microwave” combines a microwave and a convection oven, but such trendy gadgets are usually short-lived and encourage people to ditch simpler appliances they already have, according to Shanika Whitehurst From Consumer Reports.
“Adding electronics to perfectly functioning devices dramatically increases their environmental impact, requiring enormous amounts of resources and energy,” she wrote.
Revolution Cooking and Ecovacs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Matt O'Brien covers technology and artificial intelligence for The Associated Press. He is based in Rhode Island and focuses on how AI technology is built and the people it affects.
“Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst.”