CES 2020 preview: Ivanka Trump, Amazon, pizza robots, and more as GeekWire heads to Vegas

Amazon had a huge booth dedicated to Alexa at CES in Las Vegas last year. The company may have an even bigger presence this year. (GeekWire Photo / Nat Levy)

Get your best walking shoes ready, load up on the Emergen-C, and pack extra batteries — it’s time to go to CES.

GeekWire will return to Las Vegas next week for the Consumer Electronics Show, tech’s annual circus that attracted 175,000 people last year and provides a glimpse into the devices and services we’ll be using — and won’t be using — in the future.

Most of the wacky and ridiculous tech we come across on the epic CES show floor won’t ever make it on store shelves. For example, robot ping pong players; self-driving luggage; curved TVs — fun to look at and maybe try out, but not likely to hit the mainstream.

And I just got a CES pitch in my inbox with this subject line: “Meet Your Future Humanoid Robot Yogi.” You get the idea.

In an ironic moment, the lights went out on the CES show floor in 2018. (GeekWire Photo / Nat Levy)

Tech giants such as Microsoft, Google, Apple, and others have increasingly opted to announce new products at their own private events, versus doing so at a place like CES.

But CES still does provide a pulse on what tech trends are driving the industry forward.

“CES won’t have every major gadget that will matter this year, but it is a place to see where the electronics industry is going,” The Verge wrote in its preview.

Some of the themes we’ll be tracking this year include the 5G rollout; smart home appliances; transportation; and voice assistants. Both Amazon and Google have ramped up their presence at CES in recent years to tout Alexa and Google Assistant, and 2020 should be no different.

“We have a lot in store for CES this year,” Amazon wrote in a blog post detailing its CES plans for Alexa, Alexa Auto, Fire TV, Dash Replenishment, Ring, and more.

Amazon is one of several Seattle-area tech companies that will be at the show. Microsoft has cut down its activity over the years — Bill Gates was once a mainstay at CES — though it is already touting some Windows 10 PCs and other products debuting next week with partners such as Lenovo and Dell.

Seattle startups will be in Vegas, too. Picnic, the up-and-coming Seattle company using automation to disrupt food production, is bringing its pizza-making robot to CES and will actually serve food to attendees. HaptX, which makes virtual reality gloves and robotics and just raised $12 million, will be demoing its latest tech. Health tech startup Sensoria will debut “the first end-to-end knee replacement surgery experience.”

As usual, there will be some big-name speakers. Ivanka Trump headlines one of the featured keynotes, “The Path to the Future of Work,” sharing her vision for “technology’s role in creating and enabling the workforce of the future.” Her appearance is already drawing criticism.

Other speakers include Samsung’s HS Kim, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, and Delta CEO Ed Bastian.

This year’s event also comes as tech companies face more regulatory pressure and general criticism.

“CES is traditionally devoted to the worship of novel tech,” Ina Fried wrote in Axios. “It will be fascinating to see how the show copes with today’s changed environment, in which the public is increasingly interested not just in seeing new gadgets, but in how new products affect security, privacy and human rights.”

If you’re headed to CES, let us know! Email me at taylor@geekwire.com or reach out on Twitter.

Stay tuned for more coverage — you can track all our CES stories here.

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