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Who’s making early waves at COVID-dampened CES 2022

January 5, 2022, 6:08 PM UTC

CES 2022 technically kicks off today, but the action really started Tuesday.

Dozens of companies previewed their would-be hit products for the media, generating buzz ahead of the three-day event. Although COVID-19 looms large in Las Vegas—many companies, news outlets, and participants are skipping the event or attending online due to Omicron—it hasn’t stopped the annual death march of tech marketing.

Before the doors formally swung open to the public, here’s what caught our eye Tuesday:

Sony

The Japanese electronics behemoth disclosed three major developments, two squarely in its comfort zone and one well beyond it.

Sony confirmed it will produce a second-generation virtual reality headset that is compatible with its PlayStation 5 consoles. While the company released some specs, it didn’t disclose a release date, price, or design.

More strikingly, Sony unveiled its second electric-vehicle prototype and announced it would explore establishing a new company to commercialize its cars.

Back in its regular lane, Sony also detailed its new lineup of televisions, including the market’s first QD-OLED 4K TV.

Chip giants

Four of the semiconductor industry’s largest companies—Intel, AMD, Nvidia, and Qualcomm—made dueling pitches Tuesday about their upgraded chips.

Intel, in the second year of CEO Pat Gelsinger’s effort to stem losses to rivals, showed off the latest version of its 12th generation Core chip that it claims is “the fastest mobile processor ever.” (Apple and its M1 chip would surely like a word.)

Nvidia responded with new graphics chips for high-end gaming laptops, as the company aims to cut into the market share of Intel and AMD.

AMD doubled down on gaming during its Tuesday presentation, while Qualcomm reiterated its commitment to serving a broader array of sectors including automotive, augmented reality, and mobile phones.

Samsung

The Freestyle, Samsung’s two-pound, portable TV projector, ranks among the buzziest products so far at CES. The battery-powered device can turn any backdrop into a 100-inch screen capable of 1080p-resolution quality. The Freestyle, available for preorder at $899, also comes with 360-degree sound, Samsung’s smart TV platform, and quirky lighting options that will surely appeal to teens. 

Samsung also unveiled several more traditional TV and computer monitors, as well as a lower-cost version of its Galaxy S21 smartphone.

Deere

The famous green-and-yellow John Deere tractor is now fully autonomous, capable of navigating obstacles in a corn field and responding to directives from an app. 

While other companies already offer small pieces of autonomous agriculture equipment, the Deere development brings it to machines designed for large farms.

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Jacob Carpenter

NEWSWORTHY

That’s a lot of Bored Apes. Blockchain start-up OpenSea, which operates the world’s largest non-fungible token marketplace, announced a $300 million fundraising haul that brings its valuation to a stunning $13.3 billion, The New York Times reported Tuesday. The investment round further positions the four-year-old company as a leader in the burgeoning blockchain sector, where OpenSea runs an eBay-like system for buying and selling NFTs. OpenSea, which generates revenue through a 2.5% fee on every transaction through its platform, has facilitated nearly $15 billion in sales, according to DappRadar data.

Toyota’s No. 1. For the first time in 90 years, General Motors is not the top-selling automaker in America. Toyota sold more vehicles in the U.S. than any of its competitors in 2021, largely due to the Japanese automaker’s ability to weather the global semiconductor shortage better than many of its rivals. Toyota sold 2.33 million vehicles in the U.S. last year, edging ahead of General Motors’ 2.22 million. Executives at both companies expect General Motors will regain its crown this year, provided that semiconductor manufacturing ramps back up as expected.

The Xi crackdown marches on. The Chinese government unveiled new proposed regulations Tuesday that would require deeper regulatory scrutiny of apps that could influence public opinion internally, CNBC reported. The proposal lacks specifics about what content could come under additional review, and some language already exists in other laws and regulations. Still, the overarching proposal marks another step in President Xi Jinping’s campaign to tighten government control over domestic and foreign technology. 

Germans get in front of Google. Germany’s top antitrust regulator designated Google on Wednesday as a company of “paramount significance,” a distinction that allows government officials to issue earlier orders aimed at stopping anti-competitive practices by large tech outfits, The Associated Press reported. The designation does not require Google to make any immediate changes, but German regulators expect the decision will give them extra power in the future to proactively force changes by the California-based company. Governments across Europe have issued hefty fines and launched numerous investigations against Google and other large tech companies in recent years, but those reactive actions often take years to complete.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

The breeding ground for Jan. 6. Hundreds of thousands of posts flooded Facebook groups dedicated to denying the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, according to a new analysis by ProPublica and The Washington Post. Facebook, meanwhile, did not police many of the groups despite the failure of users to follow the social media platform’s rules on misinformation and inciting violence. Facebook officials continue to deny responsibility for the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by some Trump supporters, arguing that the insurrectionists, egged on by Trump’s false claims of rampant election fraud, are culpable.

From the article

Facebook groups swelled with at least 650,000 posts attacking the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory between Election Day and the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol, with many calling for executions or other political violence, an investigation by ProPublica and The Washington Post has found.

The barrage—averaging at least 10,000 posts a day, a scale not reported previously—turned the groups into incubators for the baseless claims supporters of President Donald Trump voiced as they stormed the Capitol, demanding he get a second term. Many posts portrayed Biden’s election as the result of widespread fraud that required extraordinary action—including the use of force—to prevent the nation from falling into the hands of traitors.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Bitcoin could pass $100,000 if it replaces gold as a store of value, says Goldman Sachs, by Anchalee Worrachate and Bloomberg

Tech founder is out after antisemitic, anti-vaccine email, by The Associated Press

Why better A.I. may depend on fake data, by Jonathan Vanian

Crypto is fully banned in China and 8 other countries, by Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez

False HIV results, miscarriage, and cancer diagnosis—the Theranos patients Elizabeth Holmes was found not guilty of defrauding, by Nicole Goodkind

The Federal Bureau of Investigative Journalists, by Andrey Spektor

BEFORE YOU GO

He’s baaaaack. You didn’t really think Adam Neumann would slink off quietly into the night, did you? The WeWork co-founder and former CEO, who oversaw the infamous implosion of the company’s planned IPO in 2019 and drew criticism for his erratic management style, is refashioning himself as an apartment landlord. Neumann and organizations tied to him have bought stakes in more than 4,000 apartment buildings, largely in the southern U.S., with a combined value of more than $1 billion. Neumann, of course, can afford these investments because he got nearly $450 million in cash and stock awards, plus the opportunity to sell $578 million in WeWork stock and refinance $432 million in debt on friendly terms, The Wall Street Journal reported in May 2021. 

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