Cool startups at CES 2018: Will this AI tech make it in the real world?

I skip most of the high-end exhibits at CES in favor of Eureka Park, where little startups are getting their - often - first exposure. Here's some of the cool stuff I found on the show floor, in the first of a series.

Best of CES 2018 for business: ZDNet and TechRepublic journalists weigh in

Best of CES 2018 for business: ZDNet and TechRepublic journalists weigh in

CES 2018

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Big companies may spend upwards of $2 million for a booth at CES. But I like to haunt the cheap seats in CES's Park, where tiny companies take tiny booths and their wares. We'll never hear from many of them again, but remember, even , , and were once tiny startups .

surprise this year: the number of non-consumer - B2B - startups. Companies that promise to automate taking inventory in your warehouse, or that enable blockchain-based supply chain . CES is outgrowing the consumer part of the electronics industry.

's a rundown of interesting stuff I saw.

Artificial Intelligence

Lots of companies are on the AI buzzwagon. The ones I believed might have something real were focused on relatively dumb AI that reduce drudgery. promises that its AI system will look at your unstructured corporate data - all those .ppt, jpg, and other files - and put them into a giant table to make the filenames and types searchable. offers what it calls the "world's 1st hybrid assistant". This is not for consumers, but for companies and groups that frequently. It's a hybrid of AI and human intelligence that offers help on reservations, information, appointments, and translations. says it makes creating chatbots as easy as writing. Based on Erlang, it enables businesses to create dozens of chatbots to engage with prospects and customers. I signed up for and may try it to review it. is an AI-assisted chatbot coach. It doesn't advise or give answers, instead it asks questions to help you reach your full potential. Their technology is to help you , and as they say:

We built an language engine system so that during your conversations it can help you take a step back from a challenging situation, and find a more useful or objective way to think about it.

Again, the above are all enterprise applications, which probably means they would pricy for individuals, even if they were available. But AI needs a large data corpus to learn from, so the emphasis on use makes .


With nation-states and well-financed criminal gangs hacking everything and everyone, security remains an active area. Several companies were showing products for consumers that weren't , but promised security. says it

. . . protects an number of Internet-connected devices from malware, passwords, identity theft, spying, and more.

is an established company with a good track record, not a startup, and the seeks a premium price plus a subscription. But if security is important to you, it may be worth every penny. is another box getting funded on Kickstarter, which is focused on offering a highly secure that allows you to access your home network from anywhere. They gave me a review copy, and I'll be reviewing it soon. offers a consumer firewall and an for network operators, so the latter can build security into their . The consumer box offers a firewall, VPN, and more to protect a home network.

Sylink offers a 3-in-1 box that performs , firewall, and VPN functions. It is aimed at small businesses, but there is no pricing info on their web site.

The Bits take

There are at least two stories here: CES expanding into business and enterprise products; and, the promise of AI to improve our lives and our security. The jury is still out on how these early AI implementations will actually perform in the real world, but the promise of AI is real.

I'll be continuing this series on CES startups later this week. Stay tuned!

Courteous comments welcome, of course. The wicked flu making the rounds laid me - despite a flu shot - which is why this is late.