Gadget Lab Podcast: CES 2020 Preview

Next week, we’ll be bound for the largest consumer electronics showcase of the season. CES starts on January 7 in Las Vegas, and we’ll be heading into the fray to touch, swipe, drive, cuddle, ride, and otherwise experience all of the latest gadgets the consumer tech industry wants to put in front of our eager eyeballs. On this week’s show, Michael Calore, Lauren Goode, and special guest Tom Simonite run through all the trends we expect to see at CES, from the practical (5G, smartphone tech, autonomous driving features) to the ludicrous (flying cars, AI refrigerators, internet-connected vibrators).

Show Notes

Read more about folding screens. Qualcomm’s 5G announcements came early this year. Read up on Honda’s augmented driving initiative. Mashable on the overabundance of men as CES 2019 keynote speakers, and the Verge report about 2018. Follow all of our CES coverage.


Tom recommends shopping offline whenever you can, especially for things like shoes. Lauren recommends The Morning Show on Apple TV+. Mike recommends the Oxo Compact Cold Brew Coffee Maker.

Lauren Goode can be found on Twitter @LaurenGoode. Tom Simonite is @TSimonite. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our consulting executive producer is Alex Kapelman (@alexkapelman). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.

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Michael Calore: Welcome to Gadget Lab. I’m Michael Calore. It’s the beginning of January, and in the world of consumer technology that means only one thing. It’s time to go to CES. It’s sad but true. Just as we finish ringing in the new year and enjoying our last sip of celebratory champagne, all of us tech reporters have to pack our bags and head straight to Las Vegas. CES 2020 starts next week on January 7. The massive consumer electronics convention takes over the whole city, filling all of the expo halls and the ballrooms with televisions, drones, VR headsets, electric cars, and so, so many AirPods knockoffs. Joining us today are WIRED senior writer Lauren Goode.

Lauren Goode: Hello. This is what my voice sounds like before I lose it next week.

MC: And WIRED senior writer, Tom Simonite.

Tom Simonite: Happy new year.

MC: Happy new year, Tom. We’re going to go around the room and talk about all the news we’re expecting to see at CES 2020. Lauren, let’s get started with you. What is the big trend that you’re watching for at CES this year?

LG: I’m going to be looking at lots of foldy, twisty, bendy things and also what I call disappearing design, but what some companies are referring to as burdenless designs.

MC: Oh, tell us more.

LG: I think we’re going to see a lot of this in personal devices at CES and beyond throughout 2020. So this is not a new concept at all. Typically, if you kind of go back into the history of consumer electronics briefly, and indulge me, you sometimes see these cycles of new products coming to market. They disrupt our lives and our experiences, and then the engineers and the designers who make them work to strip away some of the more bulky or unsightly features associated with these products. So I chatted with one designer who pointed out that TVs went through this cycle back in the ’60s and ’70s when they first really came to mass market. The earliest ones had lots of knobs, right? And they were big and bulky. And then, you know, they slowly evolved into these seamless black boxes, and we control everything with our remotes. And the TV itself has no very obvious buttons or protrusions on it. And then we all sit there and fumble with the remotes and say, how the hell do we work this thing? Because at some point when you strip away that much design, they actually are quite confusing.

But we see this happen a lot. And so now we’re starting to see this happen with personal devices. Things like laptops and phones and tablets, where they’ve become an essential part of our lives. But the designers who make them are looking at ways to strip away unnecessary buttons or ports or camera bumps and things like that. So folding phones definitely fit into this, because what phone makers have put out there are this idea that you have two devices, your laptop or tablet, let’s say in a phone, and they’re melding them into one and trying to make the seams and the hinges disappear.

Last year we saw Samsung’s Galaxy Fold and Motorola’s new Razr, and I think we’re going to see more of these at CES. For example, Royole or Royole—I’m not quite sure how you pronounce this—but they’re a Chinese company that made one of the earliest folding phones, called the FlexPai. They’re teasing that they’re going to show off their next-generation thing at CES. So that’s one example. Other things that we might see more of are disappearing camera lenses or camera bumps. We’re going to have more information about that on this weekend, so be sure to go check that out. And then there’s even been a report that in the year 2021, Apple might be looking at eliminating all phone ports and going entirely wireless. So you wouldn’t even have a charging port anymore. That’s just, you know, a rumor that’s based on one analyst report.

But yeah, we’re starting to see these rectangular glass slabs actually evolve so that they just become these glass slabs.

MC: That’s wild. I can’t wait for that.

LG: Yeah, well I mean one thing to consider is not only usability, like I said earlier, think about your TV and how many people get confused now by TV interfaces, because they just either can’t figure out the remote or they can’t figure out where something is in the TV. So you have to think about accessibility, and when you start to strip away some of the more obvious features of a device, you also have to think about accessibility. If, you know, there are people who are vision-impaired or hearing-impaired, and they’re accustomed to having certain buttons act as signposts for how to use a device, or the tactile feeling is what guides them through a device. You have to make sure you’re designing things so that you’re not alienating a certain type of customer.

MC: Yeah, like people who like to plug in headphones.

LG: And that too.

MC: Now Tom, you are not attending CES this year. Lucky you. We are very, very jealous. But the topics that you cover here at WIRED include things like machine intelligence and facial recognition and surveillance, all of which will be well-represented at the show in Vegas. So what is the big trend in your space that we should watch for?

TS: Well, Mike, you just gave it away when you said facial recognition. I think that’s going to be everywhere at CES this year, and it’s going to start at the gate. If you’re attending CES, you can choose to have your face logged to make it quicker to pick up your badge this year. Once you get inside, pretty much every camera on every device will have something going on, maybe facial recognition. It’s going to be very common. One of the keynotes this year is from Delta, the airline. They are going to talk about how at Atlanta airport, you can use your face as your boarding pass. We’re going to see tons of home security devices that will recognize the faces of your family and friends and flag strangers when they appear in your home.

Facial recognition is having this strange moment where it’s become very cheap for companies to put it into that product, and so it’s appearing in places and spaces and in forms that we haven’t seen before. So it used to be maybe the police would use facial recognition only on really serious investigations, but now it can be built into your doorbell. We’re also going to see it appearing in health care devices. There’s a—Black & Decker has a robot called Pria, which dispenses pills when it recognizes your face. Think of it as a kind of an automated drug dealer, really. It has these creepy, blinky, blue eyes.

So facial recognition is going to be everywhere. I would hope that there will also be some conversations at Vegas about what this means for privacy and maybe some of the uncomfortable things that come with facial recognition. When we go out in public or go to a private space, we’re used to thinking that we’re anonymous. We’re not really, right. We can be recognized out in public. Someone could follow us, but when a computer is tracking your face, tracking your movements, making a log of it, that starts to feel different. And so we need to think about privacy and security and things like that.

MC: Yeah, so welcome to the future with all of the uncomfortable conversations that it will bring.

LG: Tom, it’s interesting you mentioned Delta, because recently I was on a flight. I was boarding a flight, I think it was a JFK, and I noticed that Delta had a sign there that said now you can check in with your face or board with your face. I forget the exact language. And what’s interesting is I use Clear, which meant at some point I did give over my biometrics to this company and that they have them on file now. And that’s what I use to get through security at the airport. But I hesitated when I saw that Delta was using facial recognition and thought, I would really love to know more about where that data is going and where it’s being stored and how my data is being used in the future. And I kind of have a similar thought about walking into CES knowing there are so many, I mean, thousands of cameras around. But it gives me pause to think, oh but now they’re using facial recognition technology. Like that just feels like it’s the whole other level.

TS: Delta’s use case is very interesting because it perfectly illustrates the tensions here, which are between convenience and privacy. So the reason that Delta and other airlines are really interested in using facial recognition in the airport is, they want to get more people through check-in faster so they can move more flights. And that’s kind of aligned with what passengers want as well, right. The airport is the worst part of the journey, so you want to get through that fast. And on the other hand you have all these questions you mentioned. Do you think you would opt to pick up your CES badge using your face? It might save you some time in the line in a very busy week.

LG: See, but what you’re describing is that compromise between value and potentially privacy or security. And CES, thankfully, I only go to once a year, so I would be less inclined I think to use that versus maybe my preferred airline, which I’m on fairly regularly and could expedite the process. I don’t know. Are you going to use facial recognition at CES when you check in this year, Mike?

MC: Let me think about that for a second. Hell no.

LG: OK. Why is that?

MC: It’s just the fewer people, databases, whatever, that have my biometric information, the better.

LG: There you go. I think you just made the case for why we don’t want that much facial recognition technology floating around without—at least without being wholly aware of it and its consequences.

MC: Yeah. The thing that I am tracking this year, that I know is going to be a big trend there, is 5G. Now we’ve been talking about 5G being a big deal at CES for a couple of years and I think last year was its big moment, where it was on absolutely everybody’s lips. And it will be again this year. We’ve seen a couple of 5G capable phones come out. We’ve seen some chip sets released recently that are going to give phones 5G capability. But CES is not really a phone show. I think that there’s—there probably won’t be big phone announcements. Most of the companies that make phones, we’ll be saving those for MWC, which takes place in Barcelona in February. We will see some phone concepts. But really I think most of the 5G news that we’re going to get next week is going to be around infrastructure. A big boring word like infrastructure at a consumer show.

But it’s true that, you know, we’re going to have to rely on all of the companies that make the hardware that make 5G work to really step it up this year. So we’re going to see 5G technologies being demonstrated for things like smart cities, devices for traffic management, air quality management, making cities more energy efficient, making it easy for people to find their way around the city. These are all things that 5G can help accelerate. Also, self-driving-car technology. With all of the automated vehicles on the road, they need to speak to each other in order to operate safely, right? And to not crash into each other and to, you know, occupy the lanes more efficiently. So 5G technology is high-bandwidth communications over short distances. So it’s exactly the kind of thing that self-driving cars can benefit from. And not only self-driving cars, but self-driving buses and shared transportation.

Those are all things that are really going to be reliant on 5G capability being better than it is right now. So we, I think, you know, we should expect to see a lot of that stuff happening at CES. Now the carriers and the phone companies have really been selling 5G as a consumer story over the last couple of years, and it isn’t really. Like we have seen some 5G phones, but they’ve been sort of bulky. We don’t really know how much battery that’s going to take to control those 5G modems. And also, Apple hasn’t done anything around 5G yet. So it probably won’t really truly be a consumer story until we get to the point where Apple is saying like, OK, we’re going to make a 5G phone. And they really won’t do that until the networks are in place—the wireless networks, Verizon, AT&T, they’ve built out their networks. You can get 5G on every street corner. That’s when it really becomes a consumer story. Until then, it’s an infrastructure story.

LG: I think you’re totally right. It’s a very unsexy way of looking at it, but until we see the proper infrastructure in place, and they’re actually integrated systems, integrated chip sets and modems, not just like little backpacks you’re attaching to your existing phone or 5GE networks, which are 4G networks that are given a little bit of a boost. That’s, you know, that’s really—we’ll start to see the real 5G stuff happen.

MC: All right. We’re going to take a quick break, but when we come back, we’re going to talk about some of the weirder and wackier things that we’re excited about at CES this year.

MC: Welcome back. Now, speaking of technologies that might be a little bit sexier, Lauren, why don’t you tell us about the other thing you’re looking at this year.

LG: I really set us up for that one. OK, so last year there was a bit of drama at CES 2019 on the sex-tech front, as our former WIRED colleague Emily Dreyfuss wrote last year. There was this robotic vibrator called the Osé. It looked like a gray robotic penis, and it was initially given a CES innovation award. Then, later, it ended up being excluded from the show because it didn’t fit into an existing product category. And apparently it also offended some folks at the CTA, which is the Consumer Technology Association that puts on this big annual show, which called it immoral and profane. Now there was a lot of backlash to this, because there are plenty of women’s health products at CES each year, and for whatever reason these other products are deemed more appropriate.

So those might be breast-milk pumps or, I can’t tell you how many times, you know, I get approached by the consumer-packaged-goods companies that are like, come try our facial wand to make your complexion better through tech, you know. Like there’s all that stuff. But female pleasure was a taboo topic last year. So last July, the CTA sent out a policy update. They said that CES 2020 would include tech-based sexual products on a one-year trial basis. This is like you’re being, like, sent away to boarding school for a year, and your parents are like, don’t get in any trouble and then we’ll see how long this lasts. But this’ll be part of the “health and wellness” product category” And there is one stipulation, which is that the products have to be innovative or include new or emerging tech to qualify. So this is, this is not your 2010 vibrator here people.

OK. So we’ve been receiving a lot of pitches for this stuff, you know, smart, bendable, bullet vibrators. We also got a note from the founder of a male-sex-tech brand who says that CTA’s new policies discriminate because it doesn’t permit products that have anatomically correct parts such as mouths or human genitalia. So I don’t know what that means for Fleshlight fans, but basically we’re going to be seeing a lot more of this tech at CES this year.

Of course, I mean, I think some people will just be writing about it because of what you said earlier. It’s quite literally a sexy topic and people tend to click on these things. But I think it’s also worth having the conversation about how this, in some way, may signal an evolution of women’s roles at CES. Not just the products that are being showcased at CES, but attendees, speakers, panelists. You know, traditionally—I’ve been going to CES for 10 years now, and I don’t have exact numbers on the breakdown of attendees the past few years—but traditionally it’s a pretty male-dominated show and a lot of the products there are geared towards a traditionally male sort of audience.

And we’re seeing that start to evolve. I think around 2013 was the year that the Consumer Electronics Association said they were, you know, banning “booth babes.” And so sort of elevating the role of women and how women were participating in this show. Last year, the CTA made a point to say that more than 35 percent of all speakers and panelists were women or people of color. So they’re trying to be more inclusive. But as with any change, sometimes this can take a little while, and there may be some missteps along the way.

MC: All right, well, we look forward to you tracking the buzz of all the sex toys at CES this year.

LG: Yes indeed.

MC: Tom, what else are you looking at for this year?

TS: I would also like to talk about buzzing devices that go inside the body. Yes, I see you’re all there ahead of me. I’m talking about AI toothbrushes.

MC: Oh yes, yes, yes.

TS: Now, a couple of years ago, Colgate came to CES with a gadget that got a lot of attention. It was an AI toothbrush. It cost $100. Last year they were one-upped by Oral-B, which came along with the Genius X, $220 AI toothbrush. It’s called the Genius X.

LG: What genius spends $220 on a toothbrush?

TS: And how much smarter can the toothbrush get? I mean, everything has to get smarter, every year. I mean, genius level, that’s like, I mean as smart as Mike. Anyway, so this year, my only CES prediction is that we’ll probably see the Galaxy Brain toothbrush, from some brand or another come along. That seems to be the only place they have left to go, but the broader point is that AI has become this big theme of CES. All the companies have kind of, they tend to coalesce around some of the same marketing terms, and AI is one of them. And so you know toothbrushes, AI, toothbrushes. Sure. Why not? Another big AI showdown this year was between LG and Samsung. They both have new AI fridges this year, which are capable, they say, of recognizing the food inside the fridge so that if you’re in the grocery store an app will tell you, hey, you’re low on tomahtoes or tomatoes. I guess you can set the language region if you want.

TS: These products are kind of fun, good fun. Like if you’re going to CES, part of the fun of CES is, like, finding the weird products like the Galaxy Brain AI toothbrush. But I think so far the track record of just sticking AI into existing products like washing machines and toothbrushes and fridges has been not that great. They don’t always make great products. What would represent progress this year at CES would be if we saw signs that companies were starting to figure out how you designed some of these newer technologies into products and experiences that really, really deliver. So I think the technology has got a bit ahead of the product-design thinking. Sensors and algorithms have become cheaper and easier to stuff into every corner of every product, whether that’s kids toys, sex toys, or toothbrushes. But so far the industry is still figuring out, you know, how do you design a really great product around these new capabilities?

LG: What kind of challenge do companies face when they’re not giant software companies like, let’s just say Google, right, that has at its fingertips all of this data and has been working on AI for many years now? Let’s say you are a CPG company or another smaller tech company, and you’re trying to infuse AI into your product. I mean, what’s their chance of success really in making that product smarter through AI, through software?

TS: I think they faced very big challenges. And one illustration of that is if you look at Samsung and all the efforts they’ve made in recent years to try and compete with Google and others on software, I think they’ve really struggled. They have the Bixby voices assistant, which is really not great compared to Alexa or Google assistant. And if you’re a smaller consumer gadget company, then the challenge is even greater. That automated drug dealer pill dispenser I mentioned comes from Black & Decker, and they ended up teaming up with a startup to do the software side of things. I guess that’s the only option they thought they had.

But that startup is not going to be able to deliver the best AI tech. You may see it change though as the technology becomes cheaper and more accessible. And that might introduce this shift that I was saying we need to see with better design thinking around these things. So it may be that those smaller consumer gadget companies have the design thinking needed to make the AI fridge really work or needed to make the AI toothbrush really work but they don’t have access to the right technology yet. As it gets cheaper, maybe we’ll see it trickle down and things will start to gel together more.

LG: Gel. I see what you did there. Toothpaste, gel. Paste or gel? Are you a paste or gel person?

MC: Paste. Gel? Ugh. Powder.

TS: Tooth powder.

MC: All right, so the last thing that we’re going to talk about is transportation. I am really excited to see what’s going to happen in the realm of transportation at CES this year. Particularly because for the last few years, CES has felt like a full on car show. You have all of the big companies, Audi, BMW, GM, Honda, Toyota, Ford. They’re all like making huge announcements. Some of them are even showing off cars. This time, it really feels like a lot of the big car announcements have already happened. They’ve happened at private events in the fall or at the big auto shows that happen in the summer or in the early fall of last year. Also, GM canceled its annual CES press conferences here and is not debuting a new car. So in years past, the Chinese EV makers have used CES as a launching pad for their big play. Like there is a electric SUV a couple of years ago. But this year China’s EV market is really going through a lot of changes.

It’s slowing, both because of trade tariffs and also because the Chinese government is stepping back the subsidies that they give to electric vehicle manufacturers and to electric vehicle buyers. So all of that said, there is still going to be some transportation things on display at CES. For example, Hyundai is expected to show off a flying car on Monday. I have no idea what that entails, but if you can imagine a flying car. Yeah, we’ll see, I guess. Honda is also showing off something they’ve called the augmented driving experience, which is really interesting. Their idea is that humans are not quite ready to give up the steering wheel yet. So they’re making an experience that sort of simulates that you’re actually driving, even if the car is being driven automatically. And there’s a switch so you can turn on automated driving, and you can turn it off with a switch and still feel like you’re, you know, holding the steering wheel and driving.

They also have this new concept for a steering wheel, which is really interesting, where you tap it twice to turn the car on, and then you sort of push the steering wheel forward to make the car go and you pull back on the steering wheel to make the car slow down and stop.

LG: It’s like a videogame.

MC: It is. It’s like they want to turn driving into a videogame, which is really interesting. Also, I think we’re going to see a lot of tech around vehicle automation of course. But you know, not fully self-driving cars, like those are already, yeah, we have those already. But I think we’re going to see people who have cars that are either like partially automated or even companies that haven’t done much for automation, show you some automation features. Things like parking assistance or emergency braking, like sensors that slow down your car when there’s an accident or a slow car in front of you. Ah, collision avoidance, technology like that.

MC: Also, I think there is a trend away from private car ownership that a lot of companies are planning for, and they’re planning for that by moving into more shared transport or public transport. And CES has traditionally been a place where companies show off concepts for what the future of shared transport looks like. Like we’ve seen a flying taxis before. I think we’re going to start seeing things like automated buses, you know, automated shipping. A lot more of that is going to start making its way into CES. Even though it’s consumer show, it’s a chance for a company to show a concept on a really, really big stage.

MC: The other side of this, of course, is mobility, right? Last-mile transit. So things like electric scooters, personal transport devices. Electric scooters were everywhere at CES last year and they really sort of dominated in 2019. We saw a bunch of companies put out electric scooters and, you know, Uber and Lyft got into the electric scooter game by buying companies and putting electric scooters inside the same app that you use to hail a car. Well this year, I think the big thing that we’re seeing is electric mopeds. So maybe people aren’t comfortable riding a scooter. Maybe they’ll want to sit down and cruise around on a privately owned electric moped. So I think we’re going to see a lot of those this year. It’s going to be a transportation free-for-all, even though it won’t all be about electric cars for the first time in however long we can remember.

LG: I really feel like CES will have reached a transportation peak when we’re at the point where at the end of the week you can just summon an automated EV. It just, I don’t know, maybe you like shout at it and it rolls up to you. It recognizes you through the facial recognition technology that Tom has spoken about earlier and then you just get in the car and you fall asleep in the backseat and it drives you home. Like home. Like seven hours from Vegas to San Francisco, and you’re just catching up on sleep the whole time.

MC: As long as the little robot is there to dispense the pills that I need to fall asleep after a week at CES, I think I’m happy.

LG: Exactly.

MC: All right, well let’s take a quick break and when we come back we’ll get to our recommendations.

MC: All right. Welcome back, everybody. It’s time for recommendations. Tom, you are our guest. Why don’t you go first?

TS: Why don’t I do that? Thank you, Mike. My recommendation is to buy things offline sometimes, which is something I tend to forget. I needed some new running shoes over the winter break and even started doing some online research. I discovered that running shoes have got way more complicated since I bought a pair. In the end, I went into an old-school shoe store to buy a pair, where I was ably assisted by a man called Tim, who had a ton of expertise about running shoes. He got me to walk across the room, to observe my gait, felt the shape of my feet, and was able to very quickly, you know, recommend some shoes that felt really good. I tried them out on the street outside and ran up and down. And very quickly ended up with a pair that I’m pretty sure I would never have found if I had bought them online and sent a bunch back. And the whole experience made me think there’s probably a lot of stuff that I buy online that it would be more efficient, maybe more environmentally friendly, to buy the old-school way: in a store.

MC: Yes. You’d have to make a list, though, because I think buying a new bath mat I’m just going to go to the internet. I’m not going to go to the Bath and Beyond store.

TS: That’s true.

MC: Sorry.

TS: It doesn’t work for everything. But I think that now that ordering multiple things and returning them has got a lot easier—you know, the ecommerce platforms have made it so easy to order six pairs of shoes and then send them all back. And that pushes us to buy stuff online that maybe it doesn’t make sense to do that. That was the lesson I took from that.

MC: That’s a very good recommendation.

LG: Yeah, it’s a really good one. And also in some way you probably became a bit of a loyalist now to that shoe store or that brand if they have a chain because you had a positive experience there, which is what I think even online, you know, direct-to-consumer commerce companies are trying to establish now. They sometimes open up these popups or these brick-and-mortar stores, because they want the foot traffic and they want people coming in and having a good experience like the one you had. So then you’re like, I’m just going to go to the store. If you’re lucky enough to have one close to you, of course.

MC: Yes. And they should all hire Tim, the shoe salesman.

LG: Yeah. Good job, Tim.

MC: Lauren what is your recommendation?

LG: Our man Tom is going to be running a lot this year. My recommendation is The Morning Show on Apple TV plus, which is Apple’s $10 per month new streaming service for original content.

Now, Mike, you might remember, it might’ve been a couple months ago now, maybe a couple, maybe a few weeks ago. It was definitely last year. My gosh, because that was so long ago. I almost panned it—last decade—I always panned the show right on. I came on, you said, what’s your recommendation going to be today? And I said, you know, I started to watch The Morning Show on Apple TV+, and I’m a few episodes in and I don’t really like it. And then I thought to myself, well, it’s probably not fair to, I’m no TV critic, but it’s probably not fair to pan something without really fully experiencing it.

So I took the time over break to finish this first season. And the first few episodes are indeed still awkward, but it gets a lot better. It develops a nice story arc. And I think that the program does a good job of exploring all of the nuances of #MeToo and sexual harassment and abuse of power in the workplace. And it really ends in a bang. So I was, shockingly, I guess, pleasantly surprised by how much I ended up liking the program. So I recommend giving it a try if you have Apple TV+.

MC: And how do I get Apple TV+ for free?

LG: You have to buy a very, very expensive phone, and then you will get a year free, I believe. And then maybe if you, I don’t know, they’re all deals floating around the internet. Maybe if you like had at an Apple card you might get, don’t quote me on that, but you can find bundles, but it typically involves just buying a very expensive iPhone.

MC: Right, or like doing the one-week free trial and then just blowing through the whole show in a week.

LG: Yes, you can do that too.

MC: All right.

LG: Highly recommend.

MC: My recommendation is a gadget. It’s something that I’ve been using quite a bit over the last month. It is the Oxo Compact Cold Brew Coffee Maker. Now I reviewed a coffee maker, a cold brew coffee maker from Oxo Good Grips. This is the company that you may know. They make a bunch of kitchen utensils, and they make things that plug in around your kitchen. They fully own the kitchen at this point. Oxo made this cold brew coffee maker that’s kind of like this big bucket with a 32-ounce carafe underneath it. And it’s neat, but it’s pretty large. I really like that one. They came out with a compact version of that one, which I’ve been using. It uses a 16-ounce carafe. So it makes 16 ounces of cold brew concentrate.

MC: It also requires less coffee than the larger ones. So you can make smaller batches more frequently and, when you’re done with it, it all packs together into a very compact, almost, dare I say, travel-friendly size. But it’s easy to store like in a cabinet or on top of the fridge, which is where I keep mine. So you put ground coffee in it. You fill it up with water. You let it sit for 16 to 24 hours in your fridge, and then you drop it on top of the carafe and the weight of the bucket sitting on top of the carafe opens a spring-loaded valve mechanism in the bottom of the bucket. And then the coffee drains into the carafe, and then you put a stopper on it, and you put it in your fridge. And you have lovely, cold brew concentrate in your fridge for three or four or five days, depending on how often you drink cold brew.

MC: It’s a really great contraption. I like it a lot, and it’s only $30, which makes it that much more appealing. I’m going to be writing a full review of this in the coming weeks, or maybe coming months. I don’t know. I’ve learned never to make promises about exactly when stories are coming out. But I am going to be reviewing it. But I can give you my recommendation now. It’s really just awesome, and it’s brand new. So it’s not available everywhere. You can get it on Amazon, but I don’t think you can get it through many stores right now. But soon to be everywhere, I’m sure.

LG: And are you bringing this to CES with you?

MC: No.

LG: Why not? You’re bringing any coffee maker to CES?

MC: Yes. My roommate and I are going to be doing a pour-over system every morning. So I’m bringing my electric kettle.

LG: Wow, I’m impressed.

MC: Yeah, how about that?

LG: How big is your electric kettle? Like do you have to check this?

MC: It’s approximately kettle-sized.

LG: OK. So is this like going in, I’m very intrigued by this. Is this like going in your carry-on bag, like next to your laptop?

TS: It has its own seat?

LG: Exactly.

MC: I’m going to make you carry it.

LG: OK. You are my editor. All right. I really walked into that one.

MC: Yes. Yes. Thank you for volunteering to carry my electric kettle. And thank you all for listening. That is our show for this week. Next week we will be recording an episode from CES, where we will follow up on some of these trends that we talked about today. And we’ll also be able to tell you all about the biggest surprises we saw at the show and the things that we could not have predicted. If you have feedback, you can find all of us on Twitter. Just check the show notes. This show is produced by Boone Ashworth. Our consulting executive producer is Alex Kapelman. And I want to thank again our guest, Mr. Tom Simonite, from WIRED. Thanks for joining us, Tom.

TS: Thank you for having me.

MC: And we’ll see you all next week. Bye.

LG: Bye.

TS: Bye.

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