Startups take the limelight at the CES 2016

The CES gadget show has begun catering more heavily to startups hoping to break through the noise. The startups will help fill a gap left by many of technology's biggest names, who have been no-shows for some time. That roster includes Apple Inc, which has skipped the show since the 1990s, Microsoft Corp, which abandoned its keynote slot after 2012, Google's parent company Alphabet Inc and Inc. The Consumer Technology Association that runs CES is aiming for attendance this year at or below last year's record 176,000. Shawn DuBravac, the CTA's chief economist, argues the show's maturity is a good thing because its focus has shifted over two decades from the "technologically possible'' to the "technologically meaningful.'' In other words, it's no longer about a robot that can walk up steps. It's about robots that actually mow your lawn. CES is first and foremost a venue for promoting the tech industry, and sometimes the hype falls flat. 3D screen technology unveiled at CES in 2010 went from the next big thing to a mostly unused feature. Netbooks introduced in 2009 took a back seat to the iPad released a year later. And concepts such as the smart home have taken a really long time to materialize.

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