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CEBIT dies as CES thrives

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An expo that once boasted the largest floorspace of any technology show in the world has officially died.

CEBIT Hannover, once the world’s leading showcase of industrial and computer technology, has been officially cancelled by event owner Deutsche Messe.

In what it described as “streamlining its event portfolio”, the organisation announced that  CEBIT’s industry-related topics will be integrated into Hannover Messe, “while also developing additional CEBIT topics into specialist events for decision-makers from vertical industries”.

It acknowledged that the “realignment” was “due to reduced space bookings for CEBIT 2019” as well as declining visitor numbers.

At the same time, however, CES in Las Vegas will boast the largest floor space in its 51-year history. From its humble origins as a spin-off of the Chicago Music Show – until then the mecca of consumer electronics – CES has become the launchpad for several dozen distinct product categories. CES came into its own after the 2003 collapse of the Comdex computer trade show, which had for some years been second only to CEBIT as the world’s most important tech expo.

Last year CES hosted a record 4,400 exhibitors over more than 2.7-million square feet and 11 official venues spread out across Las Vegas.

In contrast, both Comdex and CEBIT failed to evolve as the tech industry became increasingly digital – a fact acknowledged by the latter in its announcement:

“Technological developments within the digital economy have reduced demand for horizontal tradeshows such as CEBIT in recent years. Digitalisation’s innovative impact is particularly evident in the industrial application industries. As such, many of CEBIT’s traditional core exhibitors have turned to events targeting these industries to generate new business.”

“We are currently examining the digital market to determine which remaining CEBIT topics we will develop into new events,” said Dr Jochen Köckler, CEO of Deutsche Messe.

Deutsche Messe said it would continue to use the CEBIT brand at events abroad.

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CES: Most useless gadgets

The worst gadgets of CES also deserve their moment of infamy, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s fairly easy to choose the best new gadgets launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Most lists – and there are many – highlight the LG roll-up TV, the Samsung modular TV, the Royole foldable phone, the impossible burger, and the walking car.

But what about the voice assisted bed, the smart baby dining table, the self-driving suitcase and the robot that does nothing? In their current renditions, they sum up what is not only bad about technology, but how technology for its own sake quickly leads us down the rabbit hole of waste and futility.

The following pick of the worst of CES may well be a thinly veneered attempt at mockery, but it is also intended as a caution against getting caught up in hype and justification of pointless technology.

1. DUX voice-assisted bed

The single most useless product launched at CES this year must surely be a bed with Alexa voice control built in. No, not to control the bed itself, but to manage the smart home features with which Alexa and other smart speakers are associated. Or that any smartphone with Siri or Google Assistant could handle. Swedish luxury bedmaker DUX thinks it’s a good idea to manage smart lights, TV, security and air conditioning through the bed itself. Just don’t say Alexa’s “wake word” in your sleep.

2. Smart Baby Dining Table 

Ironically, the runner-up comes from a brand that also makes smart beds: China’s 37 Degree Smart Home. Self-described as “the world’s first smart furniture brand that is transforming technology into furniture”, it outdid itself with a Smart Baby Dining Table. This isa baby feeding table with a removable dining chair that contains a weight detector and adjustable camera, to make children’s weight and temperature visible to parents via the brand’s app. Score one for hands-off parenting.

Click here to read about smart diapers, self-driving suitcases, laundry folders, and bad robot companions.

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CES: Language tech means no more “lost in translation”

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Talking to strangers in foreign countries just got a lot easier with recent advancements in translation technology. Last week, major companies and small startups alike showed the CES technology expo in Las Vegas how well their translation worked at live translation.

Most existing translation apps, like Bixby and Siri Translate, are still in their infancy with live speech translation, which brings about the need for dedicated solutions like these technologies:

Babel’s AIcorrect pocket translator

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The AIcorrect Translator, developed by Beijing-based Babel Technology, attracted attention as the linguistic king of the show. As an advanced application of AI technology in consumer technology, the pocket translator deals with problems in cross-linguistic communication. 

It supports real-time mutual translation in multiple situations between Chinese/English and 30 other languages, including Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, Russian and Spanish. A significant differentiator is that major languages like English being further divided into accents. The translation quality reaches as high as 96%.

It has a touch screen, where transcription and audio translation are shown at the same time. Lei Guan, CEO of Babel Technology, said: “As a Chinese pathfinder in the field of AI, we designed the device in hoping that hundreds of millions of people can have access to it and carry out cross-linguistic communication all barrier-free.” 

Click here to read about the Pilot, Travis, Pocketalk, Google and Zoi translators.

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