CES officially kicked off on Thursday. So far, Amazon's Alexa has been the darling of the convention. What surprises does Friday hold? We'll update this post all day.

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LAS VEGAS ­– Friday brings the second full day of action on the CES show floor.

The technology trade show, originally a radio expo, has turned into a venue for high-tech automotive news in recent years. That focus ramped up this week with the introduction of a handful of new concept cars from companies including Toyota, BMW and Fiat Chrysler. The vehicles are designed to take advantage of developing software that allows cars to drive themselves, and some are pushing interfaces that let the occupant use voice commands to interact with the car.

Announcements expected Friday include speeches from the chief executives of chipmaker Qualcomm and Under Armour, the athletic clothing maker.

Our recap of some of the highlights from the show’s opening day lives here, and follow us here for the news from Friday.


Update: 11:17 a.m.

New PC designs show well at the party

CES is far from a computer-focused show. You’re likely to find more humanoid-looking robots on display on the show floor than personal computers.

But quietly, the PC is interesting again, and drawing some buzz here.

A new generation of laptops, and some creative desktop concepts, have breathed a bit of life into the market, particularly for those who can afford to shell out more than $1,000 for a device.

“There’s a lot of vibrancy” in the high end of the PC market, Sam Burd, who manages Dell’s PC group, said in an interview here. “You’re seeing a lot of innovation.”

That includes sleek hybrid tablet laptop two-in-ones (Burd says he’s seen “hundreds and hundreds” of hinge designs), gaming PCs, and all-in-ones that integrate a desktop PC with a monitor.

The industry is also tweaking the rectangular screens that haven’t changed much in the last decade. Curved screens, as in HP’s new entry in its all-in-one Envy brand, are in.

Dell, which went private in a megadeal in 2013, this week introduced the Canvas, a 27-inch touchscreen display aimed at creative types for writing, drawing or drafting.

“We see a future of more glass around people,” Burd said.

The Canvas shares some obvious similarities with Microsoft’s new Surface Studio, the integrated PC and monitor unveiled in October  also targeting high-end buyers interested in touch input.

Microsoft’s entry into Surface hardware in 2012 threatened to complicate the relationship between the world’s largest software maker and the companies that build computers running its Windows operating system.

But Burd said the overall effect has been positive for the industry by boosting excitement around Windows devices.

“They’re putting together some great devices, “ Burd said of Microsoft. “It’s good to see a lot more energy around the operating system. They’re helping to bring excitement.”

— Matt Day


Update: 11:06 a.m.

For retailers, collecting data is just the start

Retailers and brands are collecting a lot of data on their shoppers. But how should they use that knowledge to sell more stuff?

Jamie Gutfreund, global chief marketing officer at ad agency Wunderman, says retailers need to look beyond making a hard sell and find ways to make shoppers feel special.

Gutfreund spoke at a panel Thursday on how retailers and brands should navigate a changing landscape. It’s part of the CES gadget show in Las Vegas, which runs through Sunday.

Diaz Nesamoney is CEO of Jivox, which provides brands with personalized advertising and marketing. He says one of the biggest mistakes that companies make is pushing a product that an online shopper already bought instead of recommending something that is related.

The landscape is expected to get more difficult for brands to break through as voice-activated devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home give shoppers the convenience of reordering products they already know and use. Add to that smart refrigerators that send alerts to replenish items already in the fridge. Panelists say these gadgets will put more pressure on brands to further stand out.

— The Associated Press


Update: 8:51 a.m.

For sale: Tom Brady’s sleepwear

Under Armour wants to sell you Tom Brady’s pajamas.

An image of the sleeping New England Patriots quarterback adorns a giant wall in Under Armour’s booth here, where the athletic apparel maker is promoting a new line it’s calling Athlete Recovery Sleepwear.

The pitch: a special fabric in the jammies reflects “far infrared” waves back toward the body.

Take it away, marketing speak: “This helps your body recover faster, promotes better sleep, reduces inflammation, and regulates cell metabolism.”

The Henley shirt Brady is pictured in costs $99.99. Those with a tighter sleepwear budget might consider the t-shirt edition, for $79.99.

Pants, at $99.99, aren’t included.


Update: 7:17 a.m.

Microsoft isn’t building a speaker to rival Amazon’s Echo

Microsoft doesn’t plan to challenge Amazon.com with its own living room hub.

Amazon’s Alexa voice-activated digital assistant, and the Echo speaker that typically powers it, has been one of the stories of CES this year. The software is emerging as a major player in controlling the “smart home,” the growing set of Internet-connected devices from thermostats to washing machines.

Google recently released an Echo-like speaker, the Google Home, for its rival voice-activated software.

Microsoft is also in the digital assistant business with its Cortana. But the company says it won’t make an imitation speaker of its own.

Ryan Gavin, a manager who oversees Cortana, as well as Microsoft’s search engine and Web browser, said the company’s preference was to defer to other hardware builders to extend Cortana’s reach. Harman is building a Cortana-enabled speaker, Microsoft says, and the company has opened up the software for use by other companies.

Gavin dismissed the notion that Amazon, or any other company, could be building an insurmountable lead in the emerging platform of conversant software.

“We’re in the very early days in this space,” Gavin said. “We’re really playing the long game on this one.”

Gavin said Microsoft is trying to get its conversant software to master complicated tasks like understanding when to schedule meetings based on the contents of an email or a bit of conversation.

“That’s very different from telling a lamp to turn on and off,” he said.

— Matt Day