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Hackernoon logoCES 2019: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly by@paulbars

CES 2019: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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@paulbarsPaul Bars

Disclaimer: I’m not writing this post to rip on anyone. It’s simply to reflect my sentiments and those that I’ve heard from other attendees. I really enjoyed my three days this year at the event. There is so much to see and experience that it’s really hard to compact it all in a short stay.

Some of the major themes of this year were 5G, autonomous vehicles, Alexa and Google Home enabled devices, and AR/VR products.

“Whoa” — That was CES’ tagline in 2017 and it lived up to it. This year, I feel as if “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” fits better.

The Good

Apart from seeing the latest in tech, some of the main reasons thousands of people come each year is to network, meet with suppliers, and scope out the competition. Given that the event is so spread out across the Las Vegas strip, many attendees are barely able to see it all.

Below are seven products that made me say “Whoa”, but also must-see recommendations for those with limited time.

Bell Helicopter

One of the most talked about attractions was the Bell Nexus, a five-person hybrid-electric powered vehicle with six tilting ducted fans. We’re expected to be see Uber use these for commercial operations hopefully around 2023.

Intel, Alibaba, and WRNCH

Intel, in partnership with Alibaba and WRNCH have announced at CES that they will developing 3D athlete tracking for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The data will be processed from video, so no wearables needed.


In 2018, Nokia sold back Withings to Éric Carreel that they bought in 2016 for $191 million. With a few products set to launch in 2019, the Move ECG impressed me the most. It’s an analog watch that allows you to record an electrocardiogram and share it with your doctor. Most ECG monitoring devices used by hospitals are clunky and unreliable. Many patients that experience AFib are often dismissed by doctors due to not being able to show any data. Withings’ Move ECG could help change this.

LEFT: Withings Move ECG | RIGHT: Dan Cooper interviewing Éric Carreel, CEO of Withings

BMW Motorrad

This video was posted by the Vice President of BMW Motorrad Americas on LinkedIn and it received a large number of negative comments surrounding the uselessness of a autonomous motorcycle. Mainly about how it takes away the pleasure of riding.

Video by Michael Peyton, Vice President of BMW Motorrad Americas

As a rider myself, I can understand where the negative sentiments can come from, but I feel as if the ones who feel this way are closed minded. Besides being able to balance a wheelie, there are many use cases for this tech. The two major ones that come to mind are being able to connect with other autonomous vehicles on the road to prevent accidents. The second would be rider assistance. Let’s say you’re riding a touring bike for a long distance and you’re falling asleep. If the motorcycle were to detect this, it could bring the driver safely to a stop.

Curved, Folding, and Flapping Screens

Royole, Sharp, LG, and maybe a few others showcased bendable screens. Again, there have been a few mixed reviews with this one, but I think this innovation is necessary for future advancement.

The selling point for LG’s roll up TV is for those that don’t want a black mirror in their living room or those that live in a home with floor to ceiling windows.

LG’s OLED TV R rolls into it’s built in 100 watt soundbar.

Impossible Foods

Impossible Foods unveiled at CES their Impossible Burger 2.0. This plant based meat has everything you would want in a burger without the negative parts. It has all the protein and iron you want, but without the cholesterol, same amount of fat, or calories.

Impossible meat is not limited to burgers. You can cook anything you would already do with ground beef. This includes tacos, chili, casseroles, lasagna…

Audi and Mercedes

Two of the coolest looking concept cars of the show were Audi’s Aicon and Mercedes’ Vision EQ Silver Arrow. It’s not the first time these vehicles have been seen by the public eye, but they were for me and many others at CES.

The Bad

Cliché Copy

Every exhibitor claims to either be “Game Changing” or better yet, “Changing the Game”. A bit cliché if you ask me. Other words on the list that you should tell your copywriter not to use:


“Making the world a better place”

So Mo Lo


I went through the Vuzix demo where they have you use the glasses in “real life” applications. Two issues I had with the glasses were the focus of the image on lens (it took a while for them to be clearly legible), and second, there seems to be a lag when detecting and interacting with objects.

Something that annoyed me as well was their ski demo. While wearing the glasses, you would watch a POV video of a person skiing and the Vuzix glasses displayed metrics and ski paths of the mountain. What’s wrong with this? I wouldn’t wear these glasses instead of ski/snowboard goggles… They should have maybe tried a different sport…


The only attraction at their booth was having to wait in line to test out their glasses. It’s an overpriced gadget with no real use case (yet). Priced at $999, not sure if they’ll be able to break even. The tech is good, but I didn’t learn anything more about the product than what’s already written on their website.

Focals by North

Just Bad Products in General

Need a floating weiner dog with built in speakers? Maybe. Is it CES worthy? Maybe not.

How about a turret gun with VR headset for your bedroom?

Big Clapper, a $4,500 clapping robot. Entertaining… for about 2 minutes.

Would you own this freaky Alexa integrated talking head?

Just in case you might be afraid of someone stealing your phone charger or dropping your phone in your toilet, these exhibitors at CES have got you covered.

The Ugly

What is the ROI of exhibiting? If you’re thinking of showcasing at this show, please put some effort into your presentation. Take inspiration from companies like Nikon, LG, and Sony.

Irrelevant Companies, Brands, and Products

Hello Kitty CD player? Electric razors? Seriously?

Although, I must admit, that Hello Kitty water dispenser would be a great item for parties… dispensing Vodka…

Sleeping at booths

I know it’s Vegas, and people like to go ham, but this is your time to shine. Sleeping at your booth is a big no-no in my books. I’ve attended and showcased at many trade shows. Regardless if I slept 3 hours or 8 hours, I manned my booth awake and focused. (Pro tip: Drink lots of water and Redbull).

First Impressions

Allstate and Visor X take the win for best first impressions.

I wonder if the letter “t” fell on anyone… I do hope Allstate had insurance…

Not exactly sure what’s going on here…

Hiring untrained temp workers

This one upset me quite a bit. What’s the point of attending this show if you don’t have any actual employees at your own booth? I understand if it’s not easy finding employees that speak English, but at least put the effort in training them. Most car manufacturers hire agencies or individuals to man their booths, and they provide weeks of training for them. They’re able to interact with show attendees and provide the relevant information needed about the products they are showcasing.

I understand if you’re a small company and might not have the budget to do so. Although should not have this excuse…

What happens after the show?

Where do you think the booths end up? Many of the exhibitors throw out their booths if CES is the only show they plan to attend this year. The means a ton of waste. Nothing seems to be recycled.

The same goes for SWAG.

I noticed so many booths offering tote bags. Sure, they are great for having your brand seen in the wild. But do you really need to have 2500 units made? How many will you bring back home? 2430?


I’m not sure what the rules for exhibitors are, but I would love to see show deals for their products. Nobody except for a few were selling their products. GoPro was offering $100 off their HERO7 Black which is pretty awesome.

I understand that it can get messy with logistics and inventory, but it’s also easy to do if you’re simply dealing with a POS and shipping directly to the customer.

This little added extra value could easily pay for the show expenses of the company. As I wrote before, what is the ROI of exhibiting at this show? For many of the exhibitors, I would guess it’s zero.

Final Thoughts

CES is a show and tell, but sometimes more show and less tell, or the other way around.

A lot of the products shown are useless, some booth attendants can be rude or unhelpful, and at times, you learn nothing more about a company than what’s already on their website.

CES 2019 did not show much innovation or improvements from last year. Some exhibitors had the exact same booth and products as last year (cough Garmin cough).

Regardless of all this, we’ll all be coming back next year. The show will continue to attract thousands from all over the world.

If you liked this article, please do 👏 and share it with your friends. Remember, you can clap up to 50 times — it really makes a big difference for me.


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