"AI has ruined one CES, and it'll get worse". Where did the real products go?

HP Sprocket printers including Panorama
(Image credit: Future)

I have been very fortunate to be coming to this wonderful tech show here in Sin City for a number of years, and even during the “Covid CES” where I think me and about 17 people turned up I always had lots of different items to talk about. Products stood out just by walking past almost any booth, if you found it interesting or not, you would know exactly what it was about. 

Fast forward to CES 2024 and it's a completely new ball game. AI has taken over so much that nearly every stand leads with AI. Sure has its uses but the term has almost blurred the lines of what a product actually is and what it does, even some of the little guys and gals in Eureka Park have jumped onto the bandwagon so much, the wheels are bound to fall off. 

Just for clarity, Eureka Park is a section of CES deep in the basement of the Venetian where small start ups are showing off their kit. I like it. It’s where some of the most fantastic tech is and even if the product doesn't make the big time it's pleasing to see industry move innovation forward. 

And it’s here where I see the problem. A few nights ago I went to dinner with a lady I met at the bar. No giggling at the back, yes it happens in Vegas. We talked about tech and the smartly dressed lady told me she has her own AI startup and, based on her explanation, I was trying to figure out just how she expects her company to make money. 

To be fair she does have an app available in Apple's App Store (or whatever it's called, I love you Android users) with around 5,000 subscribers right now. I mean she's competing with some major players here, and even ten times that as a source of information feeding her AI machine won't compare with the amount the big boys have access to.

The other thing is, if that's the career where the university leavers are going – AI – it does beg the question "Who is going to make actual products that are actually needed to sustain them in the first place?"

We had dinner together that night with her colleagues and friends (if she's reading this, you are super smart and wonderful, keep going) are I can’t help feeling these are the exact things we did in the 90s with the internet boom, I think companies will get hurt and the way CES has built AI up this year it will only add fuel to the fire. 

In turn my concern for CES this year is that (while I have no real to back this up yet) it certainly feels like the big companies have fewer actual solid products to announce, and the small guys, looking at this, are following to keep being relevant in an AI driven world.

Then CES will cease to be interesting because we don’t need to come all the way to Paradice to listen to endless backend process marketing talk. Just make me a text adventure game, with AI. Now that's something I could get behind. 

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Dan M Lee
Pro Travel and Adventure Photographer, Educator and Author

Dan M Lee is a professional travel and adventure photographer who has shared his knowledge with hundreds of individuals through his in-person wilderness photography training and thousands more through his writing. That includes a book, Creating Photography: The Professional Edge but the way to get involved is to join him on an expedition via kodiakphotoworkshop.com.

Dan has a broad range of photographic interests – and tech enthusiasm – which he can trace back to his first job, while still at school, in a photography shop in England. He has since been lured across the Atlantic to New York City where he undertakes commissions for numerous publishers.

His extensive traveling means he can be out of his home for more than half the year, which has also seen him develop an interest in smart security systems.

He is also a regular on the Not The Gear and The Grumpy Photographer podcasts.