The virtual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas has kicked off, with dozens of unusual and expensive gadgets on show – although without the usual crowds.
Among the best bizarre gadgets so far are a $3,000 (£2,220) pet flap that connects to your smartphone and a luxurious bathtub that connects to Amazon Alexa.
Normally, CES attracts tens of thousands of technology fans and executives to the strip and hotels such as Caesars Palace and the Venetian.
This time around, nearly all the developments and launches at the show are being done online.
‘Be prepared to lose all your money’
The Financial Conduct Authority has re-iterated its warnings that digital coin investors should be prepared to lose all their money, after Bitcoin hit new highs of more than $40,000 over the weekend.
The FCA warned cryptocurrency speculators they “should be prepared to lose all their money”, Sam Benstead reports.
It comes as the FCA extends a deadline for UK cryptocurrency firms to abide by money-laundering and anti-terror financing rules. The new rules had been due to come in from Sunday, with firms signing up to a new register. But the FCA has yet to process dozens of applications, leading to a six-month reprieve.
‘I’ve made £100k’
Of course, while the coins may be risky, some people have managed to cash in and make a quick buck from Bitcoin’s 50pc jump in December alone. You can read Telegraph’s Money’s interviews with some of Bitcoin’s winners here.
$3,000 pet flap connects to your smartphone
Pet tech often grabs the headlines at CES, and this year the standout product looks to be a pet flap that connects to your smartphone – and will set you back a princely $3,000.
The myQ Pet Portal launched at this year’s CES. The digitised pet flap turns your boring analogue hole-in-the-door into a fully automated and responsive pet entry system. You replace your door with a specially designed pet door that slides open and shut.
Cameras and a smart collar for your pet let you check when it wants to go in or out, and you can unlock and lock the door after it.
Payments firms cut off Trump campaign
Stripe, the US payments processing company, has also moved to cut ties with US President Donald Trump and his campaign. The Wall Street Journal reports Stripe has cut off Trump’s campaign website, adding it to the list of tech companies blocking the US President that includes Facebook and Twitter.
Amazon warned Parler over violent posts
Over the weekend, Amazon warned Parler its moderation plans to prevent calls for further violence in the wake of the riot at Capitol Hill last Wednesday fell far short of its requirements. It came as some Parler users, amid calls for Amazon to cut the site loose, suggested Amazon should also be targeted.
“Recently, we’ve seen a steady increase in this violent content on your website, all of which violates our terms,” Amazon told Parler, according to BuzzFeed News. “It’s clear that Parler does not have an effective process to comply with the AWS terms of service.
“[W]e cannot provide services to a customer that is unable to effectively identify and remove content that encourages or incites violence against others.”
Parler was paying Amazon as much as $300,000 per month for online hosting, BuzzFeed reported.
Parler goes offline
Parler, the social network that is popular with supporters of Donald Trump, has gone offline after being removed from Amazon Web Services, Apple and Google’s Play Store.
The social network, which has positioned itself as a “free speech” alternative to Twitter and Facebook, admitted it may have to shut down entirely after being blocked by big technology companies in the wake of the storming of Capitol Hill last week.
Its chief executive John Matze said it could be offline for some time as payments providers and other software vendors also called off contracts with Parler.
“We will likely be down longer than expected,” Matze said, “This is not due to software restrictions – we have our software and everyone’s data ready to go. Rather it’s that Amazon’s Google’s and Apple’s statements to the press about dropping our access has caused most of our other vendors to drop their support for us as well.”
James Titcomb has the full story here.
Bitcoin price drops 12pc from record high
Away from CES: The price of digital coin has dipped after a record-breaking run to more than $40,000 (£29,600), falling around 12pc from its peak in Asian trading on Monday. Bitcoin fell as low as $33,500, while digital coin Ethereum also dropped as much as 20pc.
Here’s something from CES that would make a welcome distraction from this year’s constant fear and doom. CES is always full of no shortage of weird technology, and this year will be no exception. So meet, the Kohler Stillness voice activated bath.
This tub uses Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa to respond to your commands, adjusting the lighting or even adding a smooth fog across the bath for ultimate zen. In order to take this bath, you will need to part with at least $8,698 (£6,444) according to the Verge.
What to expect from CES today
The first round of press events and showcases will get started, virtually that is, in Las Vegas. This year, there will be less of the glitz (and garishness) of the strip and hotels, but still plenty of tech companies vying for attention.
Today, the main events are reveals from LG, Bosch, Samsung, Intel and lastly Sony. But this is what has been on show already:
LG’s bendable screens
Can’t decide between a regular gaming screen and an immersive curved one? LG has video game players in mind with its 48-inch gaming TV that can swap from flat to curved at the push of a button.
Transparent TV screens
The South Korean company has also given a sneak peak at transparent TV displays, such as this one attached to a smart bed. The 55-inch TV screen emerges from the foot of the bed to provide a display for entertainment or morning updates.
Five things to start your day
1) The roadblocks in the way of Apple’s driverless ambitions. The iPhone-maker has long maintained an interest in autonomous vehicles, butexperts doubt we will see an ’iCar‘ soon.
2) Apple and Amazon dump Parler. The two tech giants cut off the “free speech” social media network from their services, after Parler was among those sites used to organise last week’s riot in Washington D.C.
3) The consequences of Trump’s Twitter ban go beyond the President. Some 74m people voted for a man who no longer has a place on Facebook and Twitter – and a sizeable proportion of them will now look elsewhere.
4) Algorithm that calculated vaccine priority order missed key groups of people. A member of the committee advising Government vaccine strategy said the data used by the algorithm had limits.
5) Losses spiral at Travis Kalanick’s British takeaway kitchen start-up. FoodStars is operating ‘dark kitchens’ across London, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham.
Coming up today
Later today, Verizon Chairman and chief executive Hans Vestberg will kick off CES 2021 with a keynote address focused on 5G as the essential tech of the 21st century.