Strip show

Better known for casino hotels like Caesar’s Palace and the Venetian, the Las Vegas Strip is abuzz with innovation this week.[1]  It hosts the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) where LG has revealed wafer thin televisions and listening refrigerators while Samsung is attempting to regain the ground it lost when its Galaxy Note 7 embarked on a series of lithium-fuelled explosions last year.

Technology geeks have been thrilling to gimmicks such as anti-snoring devices, vibrating shorts and levitating speakers.  Personal care is high on the agenda with a smart toothbrush that sends videos of the dim recesses of their dental array to the user, for purposes left unspecified but referred to by the inventor as of general benefit to oral hygiene.

There is also a smart hairbrush that will retail at a modest £160 and provide feedback to its user on their brushing technique, while those without enough hair to benefit from the smart brush will be able to boost their follicles with an infra-red ray-equipped helmet.

The big story of CES has been the unveiling of the Faraday electric vehicle, FF91, unashamedly competing with Tesla’s Model S.  The SUV raced against a Bentley, a Ferrari and a Model S and did exhibit superior acceleration.  Jia Yueting, the electronics entrepreneur who has invested heavily in the development of the FF91, describes the car as a new species, claiming that it will prove as disruptive to the automotive world as the iPhone did to the mobile telephony sector.

All is not completely rosy in the garden, however.  The FF91 was originally supposed to dazzle spectators at last year’s CES, its manufacturing facility in Nevada is as yet unbuilt, the company has been leaking senior personnel and Mr Jia’s continued backing is in doubt, as his own finances are rumoured to be ‘stretched’.[2]  The prototype even suffered a technical embarrassment at the end of the display.  So, for now, its principal achievement is that it has knocked one second off Tesla’s record for reaching 60mph from a standing start.

Tesla, meanwhile, is as undaunted as ever by competition and by the latest figures revealing production problems and underperformance on vehicle delivery in the final quarter of 2016. The company has used its soapbox at CES to announce that its manufacturing facility in Nevada is starting production. [3]