The Worst in Show 2024 Losers Are In!
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The Worst in Show 2024 Losers Are In!

At the Consumer Electronics Show every year, manufacturers pitch their products hoping to convince us that they have invented the future. But will their vision make our lives better, or lead humanity down a dark and twisted path? 

Welcome to the third annual Worst in Show awards!

Our panel of dystopia experts have reviewed this year’s batch of hype and have… concerns. From easily hackable lawnmowers to $300 earbuds that will fail in two years, these are products that jeopardize our safety, encourage wasteful overconsumption, and normalize privacy violations.

Our judges considered five questions to select the category winners:

  1. How bad is this product?
  2. Are the problems with this gadget innovatively bad?
  3. What is the global impact if the technology is widely adopted?
  4. How much worse is this than previous iterations of similar technology?
  5. How much do the negatives outweigh the positives?

Without further ado, see the video below or read on for the Worst in Show picks for 2024:

Privacy: Amazon’s Alexa and BMW

Selected by Cindy Cohn, Executive Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation

Photo: BMW Group

To Amazon’s Alexa and BMW: for their partnership to extend creepy tracking—and with it, the potential for domestic abuse—to our cars. As Mozilla has demonstrated, the decision to turn cars into smartphones on wheels is a privacy nightmare.

We have seen an increasing number of horrific stories where people, generally women, who are trying to escape abusive domestic situations end up having their cars serve as tracking and abuse vectors. The auto industry knows this happens, and they’ve leveraged the fear to scare you away from local repair shops.

Now, Amazon and BMW are bringing Alexa, and all of its tracking and power over critical parts of our homes, into our cars. Even the CES examples are creepy—imagine your ex doing this from the car: “Alexa, unlock the front door.”

Alexa and BMW—and frankly all of the car companies who are racing to turn our cars into tracking devices—need to ensure that victims can turn this off. Until they do, the Worst in Show award goes to Amazon and BMW.

Security: Ecovacs X2 Combo Vacuum

Selected by Paul Roberts, Founder, Secure Repairs (

The CES Worst in Show award for cyber security goes to the China-based smart vacuum maker Ecovacs, which unveiled its X2 Combo vacuum—an update of its Deebot X2 Omni robot vacuum—at CES.

So why the Ecovacs? What we have here is an autonomous, mobile in-home surveillance device equipped with cameras, microphones, LiDAR, voice recognition features, and AI models used for object identification. 

A device harvesting that amount of sensitive personal data from your home better have top-shelf security, right? Wrong. 

A presentation on the closely related Ecovacs Deebot X1 in December at the Chaos Communications Congress in Hamburg, Germany by researchers Dennis Giese and Braelynn Luedtke revealed that the vacuums were easily hackable. User data collected by the vacuum—possibly including images—is stored, unencrypted, on the device. An Ecovacs mobile app that provides secure access to a live video feed on the robot vacuum can be easily bypassed. The researchers also found that the Ecovacs factory reset feature does not fully erase all information from the device. 

After gaining root access to the Deebot X1 in around 30 minutes, the researchers found plenty of “low-hanging fruit” security-wise—and evidence that developers were taking shortcuts and deploying insecure and vulnerable code on the company’s devices. Their research suggests that the cybersecurity of these powerful, sensor-rich smart home devices should be a cause of deep concern for consumers and wins the Deebot X2 Combo this year’s “Worst in Show” for cybersecurity. 

Environmental Impact: Macrowave from Revolution Cooking

Selected by Shanika Whitehurst, Associate Director for Product Sustainability, Research and Testing, Consumer Reports

Photo: Revolution Cooking

This year’s environmental disaster is the Macrowave from Revolution Cooking. It’s an internet connected microwave and convection oven, complete with a touchscreen and an $1,800 price tag. The concept is flawed: adding electronics to perfectly functional appliances dramatically increases their environmental impact, requiring vast amounts of resources and energy. And new special-purpose kitchen appliances are just stuff that we don’t need. 

Trendy short-lived gadgets like the Macrowave will encourage people to trash other perfectly working appliances. The energy benefits of infrared cooking are greenwashing away the real impact of manufacturing new devices. And this smart gizmo has too many points of failure. As Haje Jan Kamps of TechCrunch says, “Why does everything need to be smart and connected?”

Repairability: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 Earbuds

Selected by Kyle Wiens, CEO, iFixit

Photo: Sennheiser

If you spend $300 on a set of headphones, you expect it to last. Particularly if it’s from Sennheiser, the stalwart brand known for bulletproof, long-lasting over-the-ear headphones.

Unfortunately, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 earbuds are a betrayal of the brand. Just like almost every other True Wireless earbud, these contain three separate batteries. The bud cells will fail after two years of regular use. Sennheiser does not sell replacement batteries, and internet forums are replete with people complaining that the company won’t repair them.

Shame on you, Sennheiser. Headphones should not be disposable. You can and should do better. Start by selling batteries and releasing repair instructions. Then work on a new design that makes the battery easier to swap.

Enshittification: BMW XREAL Air 2 HUD

Selected by Cory Doctorow (Sci-Fi Author, Electronic Frontier Foundation and

Photo: XREAL

The American Dialect Society selected enshittification as their 2023 Word of the Year, and so it’s only fitting that we add this new debut category.

From the company that brought you Dieselgate and the $12/month steering wheel subscription, BMW brings you the XREAL Air 2 heads-up display. This is a recipe for distracted driving. And it will provide endless temptation to BMW’s executives for enshittification with ads obscuring your vision and add-on HUD features requiring microtransaction-style fees.

“Who Asked for This?”: Instacart AI-Powered Smart Carts

Selected by Nathan Proctor (National Campaign Director, USPIRG)

Photo: Instacart

We see 10,000 ads per day, but that’s not enough for Instacart! Their new “AI-powered” shopping cart with a display screen tracks what you buy and shows you curated ads … er “experiences” to “connect” with brands. It uses historic shopping behavior to push junk foods you’ve bought before.

Grocery stores are overwhelming and navigating promotions is exhausting, and I question the sanity of whoever thought we should make it worse. 

These Companies Can Do Better

Technology shapes our world, but it is not fundamentally a force for good. The products we celebrate need to be held to a high standard. They should better our lives, protect our privacy, and safeguard the environment. They should be built well, and support a repair ecosystem so they can stand the test of time.

This year’s Worst in Show winners can do better.

If you’d like to do something about this, tell the Federal Trade Commission. They’re considering Right to Repair rules and are accepting comments through February 2.

If you have questions for the judges, please contact

Worst in Show is not affiliated with CES or the Consumer Technology Association.