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France shows the world a glimpse of the future

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Parrot Bebop Drones fly at the booth of the French company Parrot in front of a "Je Suis Charlie" sign. Photo: AFP
16:37 CET+01:00
French tech startups are ruling the roost at massive tech fair in Las Vegas, representing a third of the total companies on hand and wowing visitors.
There's a distinctly French feeling at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas - which started on Tuesday - as a record 190 French startup companies are running their own booths and vying to attract investors and increase their visibility. 
 
This makes up around a third of the total startups at the Eureka Park venue, and only the US will have more at 42 percent.
 
The French interest in the five-day event has already turned heads in the tech world, with the Tech Editor of Yahoo in the US headlining that "France is absolutely crushing it" at the show.
 
"The winner of CES will be France," writes Jason Gilbert. "If you want a glimpse at the future, pay attention to the absurd yet magical gizmos coming out of France. Here in Las Vegas, at least, its technology minds are simply belting the competition."
 
This is no doubt thanks to more established startups like Parrot, Withings or Netatmo, but also from breakthrough hits such as the smart belt "Belty" (see pic below). This device comes with inbuilt electronics that automatically loosen or tighten your belt depending on what you're doing, while also working as a "virtual fitness coach". 
 
 
The French product is already making noise online, and getting rave reviews in the process and we shouldn't be surprised.
 
"In recent years at CES, French startups have dependably introduced products that have been the talk of the show," writes Yahoo's tech chief Gilbert.
 
"French entrepreneurs (“entrepreneur” is a French word, you know) have re-imagined the home computer, home gardening, and weight loss. Their products reliably blend ingenuity, cleverness, design smarts, and a vision of the future.
 
As another sign that France is taking the opportunity seriously, French guests at the show include Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron and Pierre Gattaz, the president of Medef (the French business confederation).
 
France's tech scene has been in fine form lately, with Paris ranked in October as the sixth best European city for startups and for scale-ups, according to the European Digital City Index for 2015.
 

(An attendee looks at the Activité Pop smartwatch by French company Withings. Photo: AFP)
 
"This high ranking is due, in part, to a well-developed venture capital industry and several world-class research institutions, together with an increasing number of co-working spaces and accelerators," the report noted. 
 

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It pointed out that the startup scene was aided by France Digitale and La French Tech, both of which work to promote the profile of French startups. 
 
France has scene some mega successes of late, most notably with car-sharing app BlaBlaCar, the current startup darling of the tech scene in Paris, which recently became the first French startup to be valued at over $1 billion
 
Gary Shapiro, the CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association which runs the Vegas show, has sung France's startup praises, noting that the choice of Paris as a host of the "CES Unveiled" show last year was "because of France’s proven reputation as a hotspot for startups and innovation".
 
The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which was launched in 1967, runs until Saturday. 

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