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At CES 2020, technology is still the hero

You didn’t have to look far for stories of techpocalypse in 2019: Hackers were taunting children through compromised surveillance cameras, deepfakes undermined our perception of reality, and the vape pens we thought were saving us from cigarettes turned out to be killing us, too. Whoops.

But as 2020 dawns in Las Vegas, the story at CES, the world’s largest technology conference, doesn’t look so grim. In this patch of desert where fantasy and reality blur, technology remains the untarnished hero. The 4,500 exhibitors here either missed the memo that technology is supposed to unravel civilization, or simply don’t believe it.

And in the stifling cynicism of our time, it’s a welcome breath of fresh air.

Yes, the corridors of the Las Vegas Convention Center are crawling with Gucci-suited scammers, fast-talking PR flacks, and fist-pounding corporate buyers barking into Bluetooth headsets. This year, someone even thought it was smart to put a clueless White House puppet on stage. The skeptics have plenty to feast on.

But I’m making an effort this year not to lose track of the true believers. They still see problems in society, and they still see technology as the solution. They’re not ready to throw in the towel and run back into their caves.

They’re showing off solar panels that can generate clean drinking water with sunlight and air, discreet monitors to help caregivers keep tabs on aging relatives, hearing aids that isolate a speaker’s voice using A.I., and more.

History tells us many of these efforts will fumble or outright fail. The cute, green $100 laptops we thought would save the world never really did. The calorie-tracking bracelet we thought would revolutionize fitness never quite worked well enough. And I’ve yet to see anybody walking around with a 3D-printed ear.

But the true believers have their victories. Thomas Serval showed up to CES 2014 with Kolibree, an A.I.-powered toothbrush that gamifies oral hygiene for kids. He dreamed it up when he struggled to get his daughter to brush her teeth, but saw how she gravitated toward his phone. “I said, how I can take his addiction and turn it into a good thing?” he recalls. Kolibree went on to rack up accolades from dentists and consumers alike. Parents of autistic children write to him to tell him how it has improved one of the hardest parts of their daily routine. Colgate licensed it, and now it’s all over the globe.

“Every new technology has always a dark side,” Serval concedes, “but blaming tech for being the source of our weaknesses is not really understanding who you really are. If you don’t go out; it’s your own fault. It’s not your phone’s fault.”

For CES 2020, Serval is back with Mateo, a smart bath mat that reads your weight every day as you stand in front of the sink. Using machine learning to study minute changes in your weight and posture, it can even be used to detect when someone is prediabetic, or at the onset of Alzheimer’s.

This will be my 13th year at CES. I’ve attended every year since I was able to order a $14 Budweiser without a fake ID, and I’ve experienced every phase of regard for the entire affair: Elation, exhaustion, disdain, and now, weirdly, optimism.

Today, I drive a plug-in vehicle that steers me back into my lane if I veer out, my home automatically turns down the thermostat and locks the doors when I’m away, a pocket-sized phone allows me to effortlessly connect fact-to-face with friends and family thousands of miles away. Many of these technologies first arrived as awkward prototypes at CES. They didn’t work right at first. They cost too much. And then we figured them out. Today, all of them make my life, and maybe even the world, a little better.

Tech can absolutely suck. We all stare at our phones too much, social media is making teens more depressed, and A.I. could put a lot of people out of jobs. We can’t ignore these problems. But if tech created them, wouldn’t it be nice if it could solve some of them, too?

I think it can, and at CES, I’m not alone.

“Will we grow to the right level of maturity to deal with this, or will we stay eternal children?” Serval says of the skepticism surrounding tech right now. “I’m still optimistic.”

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.


Take your Linux skills to the next level with this 12-course training bundle, just $69

Linux is by far the most popular open source operating system kernel on the planet. It’s found nearly everywhere, and is the heart of many desktops, smart devices, routers, TVs, Chromebooks, and Android phones.How much do you know about Linux? Not just from a deep technical standpoint, but from a casual user. Do you know there are open source alternatives to many of the popular paid programs you use on your Windows or Mac computers?RELATED: How to enable Linux apps on Chrome OSLinux-based operating systems are increasingly used in commercial computing environments, and that means demand for system administrators is at a constant high. Whether it’s Google, Amazon, Facebook, or someone else, companies are paying top dollar for experts in the field of Linux.If you’d like to get a better grasp on Linux for yourself, and maybe make a career out of it, you’ll definitely want to check out the Complete 2020 Learn Linux Bundle.Available for only $69 right now in the AndroidGuys Deals Store, it’s a 12-course online training bundle that’s valued in the thousands.The Complete 2020 Learn Linux Bundle is comprised of 110 hours of expert-led instruction. Broken into 12 specialized learning segments, each is designed to teach everyone, even a complete novice, with 279 helpful, step-by-step tutorials and hands-on examples.The Complete 2020 Learn Linux Bundle:Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8Linux Shell Scripting: BasicsLinux Security TechniquesLinux in the CloudLinux Command LineLinux for BeginnersCompTIA Linux+ (XK0-004)Getting Started with Linux (CompTIA Micro Course)Becoming a Linux System AdminBecoming a Linux Server AdminBecoming a Linux Power UserLinux Shell Scripting: AdvancedAvailabilityYou can purchase a lifetime license to the Complete 2020 Learn Linux Bundle for just $69, but only for a limited time. At less than 50 cents per hour, it’s the sort of investment that pays off at home and potentially work.Best SellersSave even more!For every $25 you spend in the AG Deals Store you get $1 credit added to your account. And, if you refer the deal via social media or an email that results in a purchase, you’ll earn $10 credit in your account.First Time Buying?If this is your first time buying, you are also eligible for 10% discount! Just be sure to subscribe for email updates.Free StuffNot looking to spend any money today? No worries. You can still visit the AndroidGuys section for freebies and pick something anyhow.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G, Galaxy Tab S7 5G, S7+ 5G now available at T-Mobile

T-Mobile on Thursday confirmed it will begin selling the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G, Galaxy Tab S7 5G, and S7+ 5G starting from September 18.Each of the devices can use T-Mobile’s 600Mhz, 2.5GHz, and mmWave 5G spectrum. In fact, the tablets mark the first to support 5G connectivity.T-Mobile will offer the Galaxy Z Fold2 5G online, over the phone, and in retail stores for $58.34/month for 24 months with a $599.99 down payment. The all-in full retail price of the unique folding smartphone is $1,999.99.As for the new tablets, customers can purchase both the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 5G and Galaxy Tab S7+ 5G for $30.00/month. The difference being that the former requires $129.99 down while the later requires $329.99 down. The full retail prices are $849.99 and $1049.99, respectively.Multiple Ways to SaveT-Mobile is offering a number of promotions around its new devices, giving subscribers ways to save on both the phone and tablets.Pick up one Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G and get a second for half off with 24 monthly bill credits when you activate a new line.Get $500 off the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G with 24 monthly bill credits and eligible device trade in.Learn more about the Galaxy Tab S7 5G and Galaxy Tab S7+ 5G at T-Mobile’s website.

Ampere Cell Wireless Charger and UV Sanitizer review

If you’re like us, you take your phone everywhere. Like, everywhere.We tend to get our handset out while eating, traveling, and even in the bathroom. Indeed, the more you think about it, the more gross it seems. And in a world impacted by a global pandemic, it’s even dangerous.If you are one of those people who takes their phone with them and never bothers to clean it — and let’s face it, that’s you — Ampere has a device that will change your life. While that sounds a tad drastic, it’s not really a reach.The Ampere Cell Phone Sanitizer, available for pre-order at just $79.95, is actually two devices in one. Part wireless charger, part phone sanitizer, it’s 100% vital in today’s world.What is the Ampere Cell?An expandable UV santizer and wireless charger hybrid device, it has four UVC LEDs inside and two 15W Qi charging coils on the outside.Open it up and place your phone inside and the Cell uses UV rays to kill bacteria off the surface of your phone. It kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses in only one minute. Or, place your phone on top of it and it will wireless charge any modern handset.UsageThere’s practically zero setup to consider with the Ampere Cell. All you have to do to get started is separate the base from the cover, place your item on the base, and press the red circle.When it turns green, it’s sanitizing, and after a minute when it turns red again, it’s done. It’s extremely quick and easy.We appreciate that the cover itself can be expanded and shaped to provide an angle. Whether portrait or landscape, it can be used as a prop to watch streaming video or keep an eye on notifications.Our only complaint is a minor one and that it does not actually come with the USB Type-C cable needed to power it. Understanding it was likely going to replace the charger we had on the desk, we were fine using our existing one. Ampere Cell 1 of 8 The Cell is slick, thin and small, so it is easy to carry around in a purse or bag. If you’re feeling stylish it comes in different colors, too. Because of its size and expandability we’ve used the Cell to sanitize jewelry, wearables, and other small items.The Ampere Cell is available to pre-order from Ampere’s website and is expected to ship in late October/November. Choose from red, black, and glow-in-the-dark.

LG Wing hands-on: A new kind of dual-screen (Video!)

The LG Wing is a new dual-screen device from LG. Can this take on dual-screen devices make it to the