Like many in the technology world, much of team Re/code has taken up residence in Las Vegas this week for International CES, the industry’s biggest gadget convention. Rather than bombard you with rewritten press releases of gadgets and stuff nobody will ever buy, we plan to pick just three things — themes, news, or something quirky — we think you should know about every day of the show.
Bigcos Show Off Big Stuff
The first day of CES has the biggest helping of press conferences from large companies. The lineup sounds like looking around your home or office and reading the logos on the computers, phones and TVs: Sony, Samsung, Asus, LG, Intel (no Apple, of course). Ina Fried gave a preview of Intel’s agenda in an interview with CEO Brian Krzanich last week. At night, there’s also a keynote from Audi AG Chairman Rupert Stadler, one of the many auto execs at the show, who are debuting the Open Automotive Alliance to promote in-car Google Android, among other developments.
Gadgets and Gizmos Aplenty
At a press preview on Sunday night, there were wearables, drones, and connected devices galore. Bikemaker Schwinn made its first electronic gadget, a turn-by-turn navigation device called the CycleNav with speakers and turn signals that can be mounted on the handlebars ($59, available in March). Withings has a new sleep aid system called Aura that shines psychedelic lights toward a bed that has been fitted with a sensor pad. ($299, due in the second quarter; have to wonder what happens to the light when people do that other thing they do in bed).
Netatmo’s June bracelet for women has a UV sensor that helps remind wearers to put on sunscreen ($99, also set for the second quarter; actually kind of pretty for a wearable). The new Belkin Crock-Pot can be turned on via iOS or Android app ($99, spring 2014). The RunPhones Intensity is a headband MP3 player that provides workout coaching directly in your ear, sans earbuds or smartphone ($149, April 2014). The Tao WellShell is a personal tracking device that you’re supposed to squeeze between your palms for strength (between $200 and $300 with no ship date yet; makes people look like they’re praying).
(Lack of) Mobility
Las Vegas during CES is notorious for its crowds and cab lines. With the city seemingly laid out to eat pedestrians, and conference events held all over town, there’s almost no way to hack the local transportation system. It’s all about taxicabs and the occasional shuttle.
Some techies may be surprised to learn that they won’t be able to use their regular smartphone apps to hail rides in Las Vegas. There’s no Lyft, no Uber, no Hailo. Uber is trying to rally outrage for its cause (of course), so when users open the app while in town this week they will see a pop-up that says “#VegasNeedsUber Attending CES 2014? Wish you could Uber?” and explains that hailing a ride isn’t possible because of outdated laws.
What Uber is complaining about is a Nevada law that mandates one-hour minimum rides and fares for towncars, which would make short rides super expensive. For me, what’s actually kind of fascinating about the issue is that Nevada is one of a few states that have biennial legislatures, meaning they only meet every two years — and the next time is not until 2015. So, it’s not that Uber is fighting an intransigent legislative body, it’s that the legislative body appears to be MIA.
Why didn’t Uber bring up the issue the last time around, in 2013? “Last time they met, Uber was not nearly the size it is now,” said spokesman Andrew Noyes.
Additional reporting, photos by Bonnie Cha and Lauren Goode.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.