CES is where the tech industry rings in the new year. Each January, just about every corner of the industry shows up with announcements and previews that set the stage for the year to come.
Monday’s press conferences brought Nvidia’s RTX 4080 Super, Samsung’s rolling robot projector, MSI’s Steam Deck competitor, and a whole lot more. Tuesday’s additions included this Rabbit R1 AI gadget that is ready to run your life from one small box, an OLED monitor from Asus that’s foldable and portable, and the debut of Honda’s sleek Zero series EVs.
Apple set the stage for virtual reality news by announcing a launch date for the Vision Pro headset, while smart home companies are trying to organise the tech that’s popping up everywhere. A wave of new laptops, tablets, and handhelds powered by mobile and AI-friendly chips is just starting to hit, and the latest battleground between LG and Samsung is focusing on transparent televisions.
The show floor officially opened on Tuesday, January 9th, and runs through Friday, January 12th, in Las Vegas, Nevada. As always, The Verge’s team is on the ground covering the event’s biggest news. You can tune in below to follow what we shortlisted as top 10.
CES 2024’s AI drive via Intel
A few months after Intel’s CEO announced plans to put AI into “everything,” we’re starting to get a clearer picture about where it will go first. Today, the company announced its AI-focused chip for the automotive sector or, as Intel describes it, “the first-generation AI-enhanced software-defined vehicle system-on-chip.” Intel also announced the acquisition of an energy management company and a new effort to standardise battery power for electric vehicles.
Intel has been locked in a race with Nvidia and AMD to corner the market in processors and other hardware needed to fuel the AI boom. Now, it’s shifting to AI PCs, arguing that AI is more secure when running on a personal computer as opposed to over the internet.
The companies also compete in the automotive sector, fueled by the belief that the car is the next great software platform. Intel’s new automotive chips are designed to enhance in-car experiences, such as navigation, voice assistants, and vehicle controls, said Jack Weast, vice president and general manager of Intel Automotive.
“We are bringing the AI PC to the car,” Weast said in a briefing with reporters last week. He followed that up with a bit of a reality check, saying, “However, we can’t just put a PC in a car. We know that automakers need to be able to re-architect their vehicle, as I mentioned, to be software defined.”
Vehicles that have Intel’s AI chips will have better voice assistants, improved video conferencing capabilities, and video gaming options for rear-seat passengers, the company promises. Rather than fumble with multiple menus and submenus to turn certain features on, you could just tell your car to do it.
Improved safety features, like driver monitoring systems for hands-free driving, are another possibility. A car with Intel’s AI system could even “proactively enable” safety features that the driver has already turned off.
Walmart’s Drone Delivery debuted at CES 2024
Walmart is expanding its drone delivery program to 1.8 million more households in Texas. The retailer says its drone deliveries now cover 75% of the population in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, all thanks to partnerships with drone startups Wing and Zipline.
Walmart launched its drone delivery program with Zipline and DroneUp in Arkansas in 2021 before expanding it to more states in 2022. The newly expanded service in Texas allows customers living within 10 miles of a participating Walmart to get items delivered to their homes via drone.
Since there is a weight limit, customers can only have smaller products like cold medicine, birthday candles, and even a carton of eggs delivered. Walmart says deliveries arrive in 30 minutes or less, with some reaching customers’ doorsteps in as fast as 10 minutes.
In 2023, Walmart partnered with Wing, which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, to deliver to 60,000 more homes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area from two different stores. But this marks its biggest expansion yet, adding 30 more towns and municipalities within the Texas metroplex.
The program also now uses drones from both Wing and Zipline to make deliveries in the area, both of which are approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly drones “without a dedicated observer being able to see the drone at all times.”
“Zipline is excited to enable Walmart’s vision of providing customer delivery so fast it feels like teleportation,” Zipline co-founder and CEO Keller Rinaudo Cliffton said in a statement. “We’re excited for folks across Dallas-Fort Worth to experience delivery that is 7x as fast, zero emissions and whisper quiet.”
So far, Walmart has completed over 20,000 successful drone deliveries. Wing says it will start delivering to new locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area “in the coming months” and expects to complete the expansion with Walmart within the year.
CES 2024’s talking point; Rabbit R1
The Rabbit R1 is a surprisingly nice little handheld gadget. Rabbit’s not shipping its new AI-powered R1 device until March, but the company just launched it officially today at CES. I got a few seconds with founder Jesse Lyu’s device, which didn’t do much thanks to crappy hotel Wi-Fi.
But it’s a really nice-looking little device! The buttons feel good, the orange glows super bright, and the whole package is surprisingly light. Rabbit’s vision is huge, and sprawling, and will be hard to pull off.
Mercedes-Benz’s interactive musical in-car experience at CES 2024
People love to play their music while driving, but unless you’re some sort of wizard with control over time and space, rarely does the beat actually match up with the rhythm of acceleration and steering. Mercedes-AMG aims to change that with a new “interactive musical experience” that it’s created along with musician and entrepreneur Will.i.am.
At CES this year, the automaker announced MBUX Sound Drive, a new feature that uses sensors and software to link music to driving. It’s hard to describe, but Mercedes says it’s composed musical tracks to pair with regular functions like recuperation, acceleration, steering, and braking, turning the whole car — as Will.i.am puts it — into its own “orchestra.”
Mercedes envisions this working in several different ways. For example, soothing music would start playing when the windshield wipers are turned on — in essence, matching inclement weather with lo-fi beats for driving. Meanwhile, an EDM beat would get progressively faster as you accelerate down the highway.
In the era of electric vehicles, music and other diegetic sounds become more heightened thanks to the absence of an internal combustion engine. But while some try to fill the void with fake exhaust through external speakers, others are aiming for something more pleasant. The Fiat 500e, for example, uses classical music as its automatic low-speed sound, which is legally required to alert pedestrians and others who are visually impaired.
But if Bach or Will.i.am aren’t your most played artists, have no fear: Mercedes says it wants Sound Drive to be an “open music platform” so any musician can create their own auditory soundscape for driving. Using the company’s MBUX operating system, artists from around the world are invited to “create tracks” for a variety of driving functions. Imagine telling someone you’re an aspiring Sound Drive musician or that you composed the windshield wiper beat.
Sound Drive will be available to owners of Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes-Benz vehicles equipped with the second generation of the MBUX system starting in mid-2024. The feature can be downloaded via an over-the-air software update. Pricing information was not immediately available.
Sony PS5’s new colours at CES 2024 for the gamers
The PlayStation 5 “slim” is barely a couple months old, but Sony is already preparing to release new sideplates for the console. And the company is showing off a trio of those new color options — blue, silver, and red — here at CES 2024.
The side covers will start at $54.99 when they go on sale in the near future. Unlike the standard white PS5 slim, these don’t have the glossy / matte split between the top and bottom plates.
Sony’s playing it fairly safe with the colors here, but they all looked pretty eye-catching on the show floor. This red is certainly more “red” than the cosmic red accessories for the original PS5. The PS5 slim continues to come either with a disc drive or as a digital-only version.
But the detachable design of this drive, which can be purchased after the fact and added to the digital model, has no doubt simplified Sony’s manufacturing process and helped to bring costs down. Last month, the company announced that PS5 sales have surpassed 50 million units.
Honda debuted its new Global EV series at CES 2024
Honda announced a new global electric vehicle series, dubbed Honda Zero, presenting it as an antidote to the recent trend of “thick, heavy” EVs seen on the road today. Honda says it will introduce its first model, based on a sleek, sedan-like concept called the Saloon, starting in North America in 2026.
In addition to the Saloon, Honda also introduced a boxier van-esque concept called the Space-Hub. The concepts are meant to demonstrate Honda’s lighter approach to EV development, riding atop a “thin” vehicle architecture with a low floor that’s meant to accentuate aerodynamics.
“Thin” and “light” are two of the three principles, the third being “wise,” that Honda says is guiding the development of the Honda Zero EV series. The automaker stressed a start-from-scratch engineering approach to the lineup, including a new H-mark logo that it says will be featured exclusively on its next-generation EVs.
How exactly Honda plans to achieve this new weightlessness in its next-gen EVs is still unknown. Many of the EVs hitting the US market this year are big, heavy SUVs and trucks, complementing a broader trend in car buying that has seen some companies stop making sedans altogether. But Honda seems to be suggesting there’s another way, especially around smaller, slimmer, and more lightweight vehicles.
Honda, of course, is also partnered with Sony on the design and development of the latter’s Afeela electric car, which was first introduced at CES last year. The Afeela is also coming to the North American market by 2026, though there’s no word on how it connects — if at all — to the Honda Zero lineup.
The Honda Zero series will be sporty, borrowing performance-enabling designs from the automaker’s Formula 1 racing experience. Honda is also aiming for optimum battery efficiency through its use of e-Axles, a system consisting of a motor, inverter, and gearbox that converts electric power into energy for driving.
Like several other automakers, Honda is planning on introducing more AI-powered features in its future lineup of vehicles. These features will collect data about driver preferences to present a more personalized experience as well as make route suggestions based on location information.
The Prologue SUV is set to reach customers this year, Honda’s first major effort to sell electric vehicles in North America since the oft-maligned Clarity. But while that car would look right at home nestled in with the CRV and Pilot, these new vehicles are designed for double takes.
Hyundai’s eVTOL stole the spotlight at CES 2024
The last time Hyundai brought an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) prototype to CES, it was 2020, and the South Korean automaker was talking bullishly about adding it to Uber’s forthcoming air taxi network.
Today, Uber’s air taxi network has been sold to another startup, the air taxi industry as a whole is still struggling to get a commercial service up and running, and Hyundai is unveiling a new “product concept” that it says will be ready for production by 2028.
Supernal, the automaker’s eVTOL division, says its S-A2 concept can cruise at 120mph and reach an altitude of 1,500 feet. It packs enough battery capacity for the type of 25- to 40-mile trips that helicopters commonly conduct between downtowns and airports for wealthy business types.
The company says its aircraft will “operate as quietly as a dishwasher,” emitting 65 decibels in vertical takeoff and landing phases and 45dB while cruising horizontally. By comparison, the average helicopter puts out between 96 and 107db. Next to eliminating pollution, noise reduction is the most common argument in favor of electric aircraft.
With eight tilt rotors and an egg-shaped cabin, Supernal’s concept looks similar to other air taxi prototypes we’ve seen, including those from Joby Aviation, Wisk Aero, and Archer Aviation.
Hyundai isn’t the only global company to see visions of small electric aircraft buzzing over cities. Stellantis, which owns Jeep, Chrysler, and Dodge, is committed to mass-producing air taxis for Archer Aviation. United and Delta airlines are also invested in the technology, as are Boeing and NASA.
Segway made the headlines via its e-Bikes at CES 2024
Segway e-bikes are now a thing. The self-balancing brand once hyped as “more important than the internet” has been so thoroughly milked of its value by Ninebot that it now covers giant batteries, lawn mowers, robots, 4x4s, and scooters that can’t balance themselves at all.
The new Segway Xafari and Segway Xyber electric bikes are pitched as off-roaders with GPS anti-theft, integrated alarms, automatic power adaptation, and integrated hub locks. On sale “late 2024” for a TBD price.
Gatik’s self-driving trucks at CES 2024
These self-driving trucks are getting smart tires. Gatik’s autonomous box trucks are going to be the first AVs on the road to roll on Goodyear’s ultra-intelligent data-collecting tires. Using its proprietary Sightline tech, the tires can measure their own air pressure, the amount of friction between the rubber and the road surface, the amount of tread that’s left, and the temperature of the air around the tire. This should help improve safety and efficiency, the companies claim.
Anker’s charging powerhouse lit up CES 2024
Anker’s flagship power station, the Solix F3800, is now shipping after raising almost $6 million on Kickstarter. It can be used independently to power a weekend away or scaled for whole-home backup. Prices start at $3,999 with general sales set to begin on January 9th.
The 3.84kWh Solix F3800 power station itself can be expanded to 26.9kWh of energy capacity after adding six of Anker’s 3.84kWh BP3800 LFP expansion batteries. It’s capable of producing up to 6,000W of dual-voltage (120V / 240V) AC output across oodles of jacks — enough to easily power just about any home device, including the air conditioner and water pump.
You can even connect two F3800 together for 12,000W of total AC output and up to 53.8kWh of capacity, but now you’re talking about a system costing tens of thousands of dollars.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, the average US home consumed 889kWh per month in 2022, or about 29.2kWh per day. So, a maxed-out Anker system (53.8kWh) holds enough stored energy to power an entire home for about two days, or much longer if you’re only powering critical devices like the fridge, freezer, sump pump, and a few lights.
The F3800 is designed to be portable with a telescoping handle and wheels. You can connect up to 2400W of foldable solar panels to the F3800 to create a semi-mobile 132.3 pound (60kg) solar generator to power your RV, boat, work shed, or tiny house from the unit’s built-in NEMA 14-50 and L14-30 ports. You can even charge your EV at 6,000W / 240V for a dozen or so extra miles of range in an emergency.
Anker offers a few kits built around the F3800 power station to keep the home up and running when the grid goes down, which is happening more frequently due to the rise in extreme weather. Each kit varies in cost, complexity, and the control it can provide over home circuitry.