For the first time in its history, the world’s largest consumer technology show, CES 2021, was a fully virtual event. This meant that instead of hundreds of thousands flocking to Las Vegas, potentially millions of people could experience it from their own homes.
There were still all the big announcements, launches, and insights into upcoming technology and trends that we expect from the event every year. However, some things were inevitably different, because of the changing times we are going through.
Understandably, healthcare and safety technology was more prominent than ever in the past. Another focus was technology designed to help us adapt to working from home, homeschooling and our increasingly home-bound lives. But there were also ideas and concepts that look forward to a time when travel, socializing and parties are back on the agenda.
Here are some of the main trends I picked up, giving us a glimpse of the cool tech-backed toys, gizmos, and gadgets we can spend our money on now or in the near future.
One area of technology development that is strong this year is, of course, aid in the fight against Covid-19 and other potential pandemics.
Most famous for its gaming-oriented laptops and accessories, Razer doesn’t seem like a likely source of covid-busting tech, but they’ve put their expertise in hardware design into creating the Project Hazel smart face mask that combines UV sterilization capabilities. voice projection, and of course cool multicolored LED lights, in an n95-quality mask.
Smart thermometers were also a trend, including one developed by Kinsa that collects aggregated data from thousands of devices used in homes that can be used to detect and predict viral spread and outbreaks.
And LG had an autonomous anti-covid robot that uses UV-C to disinfect areas and surfaces that it will start using in schools, hospitals and workplaces early this year.
Remote and telemedicine is another strong theme this year, with Philips, Omron Healthcare and ICON.AI in South Korea demonstrating variants of the ‘remote health monitoring platform’. CarePlus.AI showed a system that can be used to monitor health and safety. of the older people in their own homes, who use AI to learn their routines and provide warnings if it notices unusual behavior. Another exhibitor, Nobi, has built similar functionality into its smart bedside lamp.
As virtual home visits are safer and doctors and other caregivers cope with heavy workloads, such devices will no doubt save lives in 2021.
For those who have yet to get outside, Targus has unveiled an anti-microbial backpack with anti-viral and anti-bacterial materials embedded in the fiber mesh to ensure you don’t bring unwanted visitors home.
Working and learning from home
One sector where activity and innovation have certainly exploded over the past year is working and learning from home. Everyone from furniture makers to computer manufacturers is looking for ways to get their engineering solutions into the millions of newly established home offices and classrooms that have become a part of our lives.
Need an office chair, but looking for something flashy now that their office chair is also living furniture? You might want to check out the X-HMT from X-Chair. In addition to being ergonomically designed to provide excellent support, it has built-in heating and massage functions – which X-Chair says is a first for an office chair – to keep you warm and relaxed while you work.
Other areas of innovation include bringing OLED technology to the computer monitors we stare at for hours every day, courtesy of LG.
The funny and embarrassing things that can happen when we accidentally run a webcam during a meeting or work call are well documented in YouTube videos and gif memes during the pandemic. Dell hopes its new Latitude laptops will save some red faces, with a built-in automatic physical shutter designed to provide peace of mind when you’re wondering if you’re thinking of turning your camera off after your last meeting.
Distance education is now a reality for many of us, and one company showing off an interesting new platform is Engageli. Described as “Zoom for Teachers,” it offers video conferencing tools built around the remote recreation of a classroom. It offers native features and functions designed to help teachers keep groups of fiddling children engaged in their lessons.
Home robots undoubtedly also play a role in education. Moxie is a learning robot that uses AI to enable game-based activities and games and received an honorary 2021 CES Innovation Award.
And finally, because we’re all so busy working and studying from home that we’re not going to get any housework, Samsung showed off three household robots. The most advanced is the Bot Handy, still a concept model, but strongly suggests that robots capable of performing complex manual tasks, such as loading a dishwasher, doing laundry, or serving drinks, will soon be joining us. will be home.
Or just “entertainment,” as it may as well be known now. With nowhere to go, manufacturers want us to spend the money we saved by not eating out or attending sporting events and concerts on flashy toys to watch, listen to or play with at home.
LG showed its 55-inch “invisible” OLED TV. In a world where modern homes are getting smaller and televisions are often the center of a room, it opens up new possibilities for interior design, such as screens acting as windows. The technology is also being developed for installation in sliding doors.
And if you happen to live in a smaller house but like the idea of watching TV on a 140-inch screen, you might want to try out TCL’s wearable display headset, which uses two 1080p OLED displays to give the impression that the viewer is watching a TV. much bigger screen.
Also intended for those with space considerations or single-person homes, the Razor’s Project Brooklyn concept gaming chair featured a 60-inch wrap-around screen that rolls out from behind the chair.
Dell said sales of gaming hardware like its Alienware gaming laptops have skyrocketed – and announced that the latest generation of these devices will make 8K resolution games at 60 frames per second the standard. This means more detailed and realistic game worlds to explore and more immersive experiences – especially in virtual reality environments. Asus also showed off its ROG Flow X13 gaming laptop, with up to three dedicated graphics processing cards – the kind of graphics power you’d normally need a desktop case for.
If you want to take your music with you in the shower, Ampere showed us the world’s first water-powered Bluetooth speaker. Designed to be built into a shower head, the Shower Power has a mini internal generator that converts kinetic energy from the falling water into electricity to keep it charged.
Almost all of the great new toys and gadgets on display need data to power them, and 5G was all over CES this year, promising to bring digital information into our lives faster than ever.
It was so prominent that it was the subject of the show’s first keynote, delivered by Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg. Vestberg spoke about the impact that 5G is already having in much of our lives and how this has been accelerated by Covid-19. You can watch his keynote here.
Most major handset manufacturers were promoting new 5G phones, and we saw a clear shift towards budget models after the technology was introduced on high-end handsets last year. Motorola has unveiled a 5G handset that will retail for less than $ 400. Meanwhile, Qualcomm introduced the Snapdragon 480 processor, which provides the computing power required for the new standard in a chip far less expensive to manufacture than most 5G-ready processors. Laptops with built-in 5G modems have also been unveiled by Dell, Lenovo and HP, among others.
Samsung unveiled a 5G-based telematics control unit that uses features of the advanced network, such as beamforming, to improve the connectivity of cars, allowing them to more quickly communicate with devices in other vehicles, carried by pedestrians or embedded in roadside infrastructure.
And another recipient of an honorary innovation reward was Inseego, who created the world’s first 5G mobile hotspot and developed a line of 5G home routers that deliver super-fast speeds for home offices and entertainment centers.
Transport and mobility
When the pandemic is over, we will all have to make ends meet. So it’s good to see that car manufacturers are still working hard to fix the problem to get us from A to B as quickly, comfortably and safely as possible. This year, the trend shifted from ride-sharing vehicles to more personal and private modes of transport.
One of the most impressive at the show is GM’s Personal Electric Vertical Take-Off / Landing (VTOL) Cadillac. A one-person, battery-powered airplane that we probably won’t be able to buy anytime soon, but that offers an exciting vision of how personal transportation evolves. Similar vehicles already exist and operate as autonomous taxi services, so it looks like flying cars are becoming a reality.
GM also showcased its Halo self-driving car concept, a pod car designed to transport the passenger in luxurious comfort that uses biometric sensors to adjust lighting, temperature, humidity, and even odor as required.
Sono Motors showcased its solar-powered Sion car that uses 248 panels to generate the electrical power to drive about 35 kilometers a day (if you live somewhere sunny) at speeds of up to 140 km / h.
And the first all-electric Hummer demonstrated its “crab walk” mode that allows it to tilt its wheels at an angle of up to 10 degrees to move both sideways (and forwards) without changing the direction it faces.
Mercedes-Benz cuts buttons on its new EQS electric sedan. The entire dashboard has been replaced with an OLED display called MBUX Hyperscreen, which gives the driver and front passenger access to all the readouts, navigation, communication and entertainment technology built into the car, including the amount of g-force the driver has experienced .
As ‘microtransport’ was still a strong trend, Segway was on hand to show off its range of electric scooters, including the self-balancing eScooter T, the kid-friendly Ninebot S Nano and the eMoped B, which it says is designed to “revolutionize. bring in the way we commute. “