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Controversial CES Products Unveiled: Consumer and Privacy Advocates Reveal the "Worst in Show"

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is known for showcasing groundbreaking innovations that have the potential to revolutionise our lives.

However, amidst the glitz and glamour, there are products that have raised concerns among consumer and privacy advocates.

These advocates have come together to unveil the "Worst in Show" products, highlighting the potential dangers they pose to our safety, privacy, and the environment.

The panel of self-described dystopia experts, consisting of representatives from Consumer Reports, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and right-to-repair advocates iFixit, judged the products based on their unique flaws, potential impact if widely adopted, and how they compared to previous versions of similar technology. Their aim is to shed light on products that could jeopardise our well-being and normalise privacy violations.

One of the major recipients of criticism was carmaker BMW, which received two brickbats for its automotive technology. One of the concerns raised was BMW's partnership with Amazon's voice assistant, Alexa. While the idea of having an Alexa "car expert" sounds convenient, there are worries about the potential for abuse. Cindy Cohn, executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, highlighted the risk of cars being used as tracking and abuse vectors, particularly for victims of domestic violence. The judges called on BMW and other car companies to prioritise victim safety and provide the option to disable such features.

Another product that drew attention was the fourth generation of Sennheiser's Momentum True Wireless ear headphones. Despite being known for their durability, the latest $300 earbuds were criticised for their lack of repairability. iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens labeled them a "betrayal of the brand" due to the difficulty in replacing the three separate batteries that are likely to fail after a few years. The judges urged Sennheiser to prioritise repairability and make it easier for consumers to replace the batteries.

Instacart's "AI-powered" shopping cart also faced scrutiny. Nathan Proctor, the national campaign director for U.S. PIRG, singled out the cart's new video ads as the "Worst in Show." Equipped with cameras and sensors, the cart displays real-time recommendations based on customers' purchases. However, Proctor raised concerns about the cart pushing junk foods based on customers' past shopping behavior, exacerbating the challenges of navigating promotions in grocery stores.

In the realm of cybersecurity, China-based robot vacuum-maker Ecovacs received the "Worst in Show" award. The company's X2 Combo was criticised for its potential to invade privacy through its combination of cameras, microphones, LiDAR, voice recognition, and computer vision. The judges expressed concerns about the lack of encryption, leaving the device vulnerable to hacking and unauthorised access to personal data.

Lastly, Revolution Cooking's $1,800 "macrowave" received the environmental impact "Worst in Show" award. This appliance combines a microwave with a convection oven, but consumer advocate Shanika Whitehurst of Consumer Reports highlighted the negative consequences of adding electronics to functional appliances. This trend not only increases the environmental impact but also encourages the disposal of perfectly good appliances.

  • Consumer and privacy advocates reveal the "Worst in Show" products at CES.

  • BMW's partnership with Amazon's Alexa raises concerns about privacy and safety.

  • Sennheiser's latest earbuds criticised for their lack of repairability.

Source: AP NEWS

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