The Jakarta Post
Director James Cameron (right), who directed 'Avatar', gestures toward the Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR concept car, an 'Avatar'-themed vehicle, during a keynote address at CES 2020 at Park Theater at Park MGM on Jan. 6 in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was the world premiere unveiling of the vehicle. (Agence France Presse/David McNew)
Tech nerds who make the pilgrimage to the world's biggest gadget show, the Consumer Electronic Show (CES), from Jan. 7 to 10, in Las Vegas, Nevada, certainly expect to catch a glimpse of the latest ultra high-definition flat screen television or try out the most innovative virtual reality games.
But two subjects that drew the biggest attention right after the opening of CES 2020 on Tuesday were the unveiling of the Mercedez-Benz Avatar-themed concept car and the controversial appearance of United States President Donald Trump's daughter, Ivanka, on the tech conference's main stage.
Unveiled on Monday and displayed at the convention floor until Thursday, the Mercedez-Benz Vision AVTR, drew the biggest crowd, which marveled at its breathtakingly futuristic design. Avatar director James Cameron, who helped design the concept car, made an appearance during the unveiling of the prototype vehicle, together with Mercedez-Benz chairman Ola Källenius.
During a moment leading up to unveiling of the car, a band of 10-foot-wide remote-controlled Avatar butterflies flew over the audience, prompting gasps and excitement from the audience.
The most striking part of the futuristic car's design were 33 mechanical scales placed on the entire rear end of the Vision AVTR, which Mercedes-Benz called "bionic flaps". The company says the flaps can give the impression that the car is a living being and that they could be used to communicate with people outside of the car.
The Avatar-themed Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR concept vehicle is world premiered at the Daimler keynote address by the head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Ola KŠllenius, during the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Jan. 6. CES is one of the largest tech shows on the planet, showcasing more than 4,500 exhibiting companies representing the entire consumer technology ecosystem. (Agence France Presse/David McNew)
The Vision AVTR also has spherical wheels that can rotate to move sideways and diagonally. The company says the design of the wheel was inspired by the “seeds of the Tree of Souls” from Cameron's 2009’s Avatar.
The car lacks a steering wheel but in its place, Mercedez-Benz designers put in an oval-shaped controller that vibrates up and out of the center console to meet the passenger's hand.
Mercedez-Bens designed the Vision AVTR with the aim of being sustainable, using graphene-based organic battery cells that don’t require rare earth minerals as well as using recycled plastics and vegan leather for its interior.
“We’re aiming at carbon-neutral vehicle production, growing the share of electric vehicles sold and, finally, having a carbon-neutral new passenger car fleet by 2039. We want to address this in a holistic way. That includes driving our suppliers and partners to comply with our objective of carbon neutrality.” said Källenius,
Meanwhile, those who expected the appearance of Ivanka Trump at the CES floor to be met with protest were disappointed as the keynote address by President Trump's daughter proceeded without a hitch in a packed ballroom of the Venetian Hotel, located only a few blocks away from Trump Hotel, one of her family’s properties.
Shortly before Ivanka delivered her speech, dozens of journalists line up outside the ballroom, which was quickly filled. Security guards quickly blocked all entrances leading to the ballroom once her presentation was under way.
In her presentation, which was moderated by Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which organizes CES, Ivanka touted her father’s program to retrain American workers and to look for new ways to bring people into the workforce.
Trump said there were concerns among employers about a lack of skilled workers. "There are 500,000 unfilled jobs in the US manufacturing sector and more than 7 million unfilled jobs across the country because companies can’t find workers with the right skills," she claimed.
When asked about immigration, especially on the issue of allowing highly-skilled workers to fill American jobs, Ivanka said the government’s policies should be revised to allow highly educated non-citizens to live and work in the US. She was quick to add, however, that: “It can’t displace the investment that needs to be made in marginalized, unskilled Americans.”
Days before her appearance at CES, tech writers expressed their opposition toward the possible appearance of Ivanka at the tech show, arguing that she had no qualifications other than the fact that she was the daughter of a US president. Many had taken to social media to get the hashtag #boycottCES2020 to trend.
For tech geeks who want to stay away from policy discussion or politics, CES remains the best place to follow the latest trends in electronics, gaming and the entertainment industry.
This year, the biggest hype came from TV makers' attempt to display top-notch high-definition models aimed at helping customers get good-quality streaming services.
Big names like Samsung, LG, Sony and Skyworth unveiled new super flat 8K high-definition screens that can project more pixels for the massive screens.
Some of these products don’t come cheap. Skyworth's new 75-inch Q91 with 8K graphics will be priced at US$5,999 in the US.
Tech experts have predicted that 2020 will be the year when 8K display will go mainstream.
Also expected to deliver a keynote address at CES this year were founder of new streaming service Quibi Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman.
Quibi (short for “quick bites”) is expected to launch on April 6 with shows delivered in sub-10-minute episodes, and is targeting around 7,000 episodes in the first year. The company plans to charge $5 monthly for a version with ads and $8 for an ad-free service.
Quibi has recruited some of the biggest name in Hollywood to produce for the short-form service, including Guillermo del Toro, Antoine Fuqua, Steven Spielberg, Sam Raimi, Jason Blum, Steven Soderbergh, Trevor Noah, Catherine Hardwick, Anna Kendrick, Doug Liman and Peter Farrelly.
Also announced at CES is a new partnership between self-driving mapping company Here Technologies and Japan's Mitsubishi corporation.
Through the partnership, Here is expected to play a role in various strategic initiatives in Japan and other markets in Asia Pacific, which include deploying Here technology in several projects to address customer needs in transportation and logistics and other industries.
“Our joint partnership is proof of how different data sets enabled with location intelligence can drive growth, cost efficiency and innovation for customers across multiple industries,” said Here Technologies CEO Edzard Overbeek.
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