Greetings from Vegas: My Experience at CES

This week Devin, Kirsten and I have been running around in Las Vegas for CES to figure out what’s going on in the world of tech. Siri in particular could do with getting its act together, before it’s completely left in the dust by its competitors. Biggest news from CESSamsung’s Ballie, the spherical home robot first seen at CES 2020, has rolled back into the spotlight at CES 2024 with some trend-forward AI enhancements. Kyle reports how AI tools can easily manipulate ID images, creating deepfakes convincing enough to pass KYC tests. Plus, Alexa’s got a new AI model making it more opinionated and emotional.

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This week, Devin, Kirsten, and I have been immersed in the tech world at CES in Las Vegas. After covering over fifty stories, it’s clear that there’s a lot happening. As I drove to Las Vegas, I spent some time interacting with Alexa in my car and Siri on my phone, but it’s evident that voice assistants still have a long way to go. Siri, in particular, needs to step up its game before getting left behind by its competitors.

But enough about that, let’s dive into the biggest news from CES:

Samsung’s Ballie rolls on with AI enhancements

Samsung’s spherical home robot, Ballie, made its debut at CES 2020 and is now back in the spotlight at CES 2024 with some exciting AI upgrades. This bowling ball-sized bot now features a spatial lidar sensor, a 1080p projector for movies and video calls, and can even function as a PC monitor. It is controllable via voice and text, and can manage smart and non-smart home devices. It also offers features like reminders to water plants and access to remote medical services. However, details about availability and pricing remain undisclosed.

Volkswagen integrates ChatGPT into cars

Volkswagen announced at CES that it will be adding ChatGPT, a new AI feature developed in collaboration with Cerence and OpenAI, to its models equipped with the IDA voice assistant. This integration will start in Europe and allows drivers to ask a broad range of questions and complete tasks, although there are limitations regarding sensitive topics. Unfortunately, U.S. models won’t see this feature just yet, as it’s still under consideration.

Here are a few other noteworthy stories from CES:

  • Samsung’s new display innovations, including the “In&Out Flip” that folds in both directions and monitor-sized folding and sliding OLED displays.
  • Ultrahuman’s move into the smart home market with the “Ultrahuman Home.”
  • The Rabbit’s R1 Pocket AI, a device designed for everyday tasks like hailing a car or finding dining options.

The startup world has been a roller coaster this week

Carta, a cap table management company, caused controversy by attempting to broker shares of a startup without their consent. This bold move has raised concerns about trust and integrity in financial dealings.

Superpedestrian, once a promising player in the e-scooter industry, is now auctioning off over 20,000 scooters and shuttering its U.S. operations. Despite raising $125 million less than two years ago, the company struggled financially and failed to secure fresh funding or a merger.

In other startup news:

  • Nabla, a Paris-based startup, closed a $24 million Series B funding round for its AI assistant designed for doctors.
  • “Here,” a proptech startup that offers fractional investments in vacation rentals, announced the closure of its investment platform due to economic challenges.
  • Pitch, a startup focused on collaborative presentation software, is downsizing and bootstrapping after talks of fresh funding fell through and the departure of its CEO and co-founder.

The robots have been busy, too

A surprising AI trend that could change the game for financial institutions is the use of generative AI to create fake IDs. These AI tools can manipulate ID images, crafting convincing deepfakes that could potentially pass KYC tests.

Amazon’s Alexa is also embracing generative AI with three new experiences: Character.AI, where users can chat with fictional or historical figures; Splash, a voice-controlled song creator; and Volley’s 20 Questions game with an AI twist. Plus, Alexa now has a new AI model that makes it more opinionated and emotional.

In other AI news:

  • Get the inside scoop on Google’s new Gemini AI platform, featuring three versatile models.
  • Meistrari simplifies prompt creation and evaluation for large language models like ChatGPT.
  • Duolingo joins the AI race by trimming its contractor workforce by 10%.

Top reads from TechCrunch this week

Here are a few more stories that caught our readers’ attention this week:

  • The rise of mobile virtual network operators, thanks to new technologies such as Humane Ai Pin.
  • A cyberattack on Fidelity National Financial resulted in the theft of data from 1.3 million customers and a week-long shutdown.
  • Hertz is selling off a third of its electric vehicle fleet to buy gas cars due to lower demand and high repair costs.

Thanks for joining us for this week’s edition of Startups Weekly. Don’t forget to sign up here to have this newsletter delivered to your inbox every Friday.

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Max Chen

Max Chen is an AI expert and journalist with a focus on the ethical and societal implications of emerging technologies. He has a background in computer science and is known for his clear and concise writing on complex technical topics. He has also written extensively on the potential risks and benefits of AI, and is a frequent speaker on the subject at industry conferences and events.

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