CES offers peek into tech future

“Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door” is the often-quoted paraphrase of a Ralph Waldo Emerson passage. It is also the guiding principle for businesses — both large corporations and startups with only a handful of employees — who are hoping to strike gold in the ever-burgeoning tech industry.

The annual Consumer Electronic Show is the stage where tech companies from around the world present the products they hope will catch the wave of worldwide public interest that now seems almost insatiable.

Nearly 4,000 exhibitors presented their wares for 160,000 trade industry visitors at the Las Vegas Convention Center and 10 other venues on or near Las Vegas Boulevard Jan. 5-8.

A dizzying array of products ranged from smart toilets to smart cars and included nearly pointless novelties and truly innovative designs with the potential to enhance or even save lives. The CES experience is one of sensory overload, and no visitor can really absorb everything that is on display. Below is a selection of notable products that made an impact in 2017.

So, back to the mousetrap. The patent for the classic flat, spring-loaded bar mousetrap we are all familiar with was granted to William Chauncey Hooker in 1894.

Inventors and engineers, as well as sadists of many stripes, have since designed mousetraps that electrocute, crush, impale, poison, stick (as in glue) and non-lethally ensnare rodents in an array of imaginative ways.

But what is the best-selling mousetrap style? It is the spring-loaded bar trap, slightly modified but fully recognizable as a version of Hooker’s classic.

Maybe that’s a lesson worth heeding for engineers and designers who are eager to advance technological products at an exponentially increasing rate into a competitive and discriminating world market.

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