CES 2016: The Trouble With Trotters

What do Hunter S. Thomson, Philip K. Dick, and L. Ron Hubbard all have in common? For starters, they all use an initial in their names, and anyone who does that is obviously trying hard to appear to be intellectual. More important, I think they would all have enjoyed attending this year's CES.

The CES is the best of times. It is the worst of times. It is everything to all people. It is nothing. It will make your wildest dreams come true. It will crush your dreams. Mainly, the CES is 170,000 people jammed into booths, hospitality suites, and shuttle buses who will determine whether you will buy a blue 3D TV next Christmas, or a red one.

Actually, 3D TVs are old news. At some long-ago CES, they dominated the discussion. At CES 2016, the discussion was dominated by drones. Literally. Every time you started to discuss something, a drone would fly overhead, hover, then crash into your face. That is a drone's way of saying, “Look at me! I am the most important thing at the show this year!”

Trust me – the air was thick with drones. It was so bad that many companies floated balloons over their booths with steel cables hanging down, hoping that the drones would crash into the cables instead of people's faces. The British did the same thing to defeat Nazi V1 flying bombs. Of course, it would be insensitive of me to compare drones to weapons of mass destruction. But I digress.

The other Big Thing at CES 2016 was VR. As you know, VR stands for Nausea Inducing. This technology is incredible. Here's how it works: someone puts goggles on you so you can't see anything. Then they hit a button and suddenly you are base jumping off Half Dome and you naturally flail your arms around, much to the amusement of the non-VR people standing around and watching. Then you feel sick, stumble over the chair in front of you and fall down, which is also very amusing. Then, adding insult to injury, a drone flies into your face.

Of course, the Really Big CES 2016 news was reported by Bloomberg News and other news outlets. Changzhou First International Trade Co.'s booth at CES was raided by federal marshals. They seized an alleged knockoff hoverboard as well as a sign and fliers. Apparently the company's one-wheeled Trotter seesaw skateboard was remarkably similar to the Onewheel, a self-balancing (and recently patented) electric skateboard made by Silicon Valley startup Future Motion. Future Motion obtained a temporary restraining order in federal court against Changzhou, and the case will now wind its way through the courts. It would be really cool if the lawyers rode Trotters around the courtroom while arguing the case.

So in conclusion, this was a pretty good CES. For Christmas, you will get either a drone or a one-way ticket to the fast lane off Half Dome. If you get a Trotter for Christmas, just make sure you return the product registration so federal marshals will know which house to raid.