CES 2024 in Las Vegas: AI takes center stage at the consumer tech showcase – USA TODAY

Perhaps CES 2024 – the consumer technology trade showcase that’s about to take place in Las Vegas – should be called “CE-AI-S.”
Artificial intelligence is a headline in just about every new gadget and tech tool announcement here this year, from cars and clothes to robots, laptops, bikes, shoes, speakers, and yes – even all those new flagship TVs that get unveiled here annually.   
The show officially started on Tuesday, but we arrived early to get a jump on the AI avalanche and first hands on several of the buzzier products, including LG’s new translucent, see-through TV screen, Shift’s latest Moonwalkers X robot shoes, and a handful of new at-home robots that promise to be as helpful as they are cute. 
TVs take center stage at the industry’s biggest consumer electronics show every year, and LG’s Signature OLED 4K 77-inch see-through screen is the one everyone’s talking about. It’s translucent, as in you can see right through it, even when there’s something on the screen. 
A darker film rises from the base at the touch of the remote, turning it into a gorgeous next-generation, more “normal looking” 4K TV too. Watching it in action resembles the way transition sunglasses go from clear inside to darker when you go outside in the sun. Because OLEDs – organic light-emitting diodes – can be printed on any surface, the screen is basically a transparent piece of glass no wider than a smartphone. 
The set’s base is wider because it houses all the speakers and other important TV tech guts – but it’s still sleek and futuristic looking – the kind of set that would spark TV envy in any neighborhood on the planet. It’s also wireless, thanks to LG’s Zero Connect technology, which we first showed you during CES 2023. That means you can actually put this new screen in front of a window without blocking the view. 
Why would you want a see-through screen? Because having a giant black box on the wall is so 2020. Now, it’s there when you want it and not when you don’t. LG says they expect it out later this year, but there is no word yet on pricing. 
Not to be outdone, Samsung also teased the “world’s first transparent MicroLED display,” but it seems a bit further out from hitting the consumer market. Two of the demo units had tinted glass, while a third looked totally clear in its frameless display. 
The Samsung set I spent even more time checking out, though, is their new flagship 65-inch QN900D Class Neo QLED 8K set with brilliant picture quality and mind-blowing sound that the company says is thanks to the latest AI Gen 3 processors tucked inside.
Samsung also says it’s the “slimmest, most premium 8K TV to ever hit the market,” delivering enhanced 8K upscaling and promising to sharpen low-resolution content to “OMG – I feel I’m right there in real life” – ultra-high resolution. One example? It automatically detects the type of sport you’re watching and uses deep learning to help you track the specific kind of ball on the screen with “crystal clarity.” There is no word yet on pricing or release date. 
Strapping on a pair of Shift Robotics Moonwalkers X’s new robotic “AI Informed” shoes felt like taking a step into the future. They look kind of like super high-tech roller skates, but each magnesium platform that you Velcro your own shoes onto has it’s an operating system that controls a drive train. The smart shoes communicate with each other to keep you steady and sailing ahead – up to 7 mph – or about 3 times faster than normal. 
You don’t skate. You don’t glide. You don’t do anything except walk, heel-to-toe. There’s no real learning curve. To speed up, you just take a bigger stride. To slow down or stop, you just … slow down or stop. On-board regenerative brakes slow you down and bring you to a smooth standstill, similar to how the brakes work on most electric vehicles. 
Each “shoe” weighs about 4 pounds, so they’re heavy, but they make you move so much faster that you end up taking fewer steps overall. A company spokesperson says this is a big deal for the 6 million people who work in warehouses and distribution centers in the U.S.  
Shift Robotics has been testing robot shoes at IKEA’s flagship store in Sweden and says they’ve helped boost productivity by around 250% in some cases. People who normally walk about 30,000 steps per day have been able to do the same amount of work even faster, with just 1,300 “skeps.” (I just made that word up – it’s skate+steps, and I think it should be what we call this new mode of techy- movement.) I can also see this for end-point commutes or even the e-bike crowd, who feel the need for easier speed. 
The company has not announced the price yet, but they expect to ship Moonwalkers X before July of this year. 
Electric vehicles are back in full fleet this CES, including the new Helix ultralight eVTOL from Pivotal. It’s a fully carbon-fiber, 348-pound “almost” flying car concept, but without wheels. It takes off vertically, like a helicopter, and can fly for about 20 minutes or 20 miles at speeds around 60 mph. It soars to altitudes between 400 and 1,200 feet, and you don’t need a pilot’s certificate to fly it, but the company does train you extensively before takeoff. 
Who might buy this kind of futuristic flying machine? The company says ranchers, aviation pioneers, former pilots, adventure-seekers, and Silicon Valley types who can afford six figures for that last leg of their commute are among the people pre-ordering it. A $250 deposit gets you in, but the actual price tag starts around $190,000. 
We’re about to go play with some cute little robots from Samsung and LG and will have a whole lot more to show off from the Super Bowl of consumer tech. Be sure to keep checking back here for the very latest. 

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