With the COVID-19 pandemic still a reality, this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) moved from its usual venue in Las Vegas to the virtual stage.
The lack of a physical event did not seem to deter technology companies from participating, however, with AMD, Intel, Microsoft, Nvidia, Samsung, and a myriad of other big names making their presence known.
While the usual keynote addresses and panel discussions were featured, many tune into or attend CES for one thing – the latest and coolest gadgets.
Plenty of startups and established attendees used the platform to show off fascinating, innovative, and even bizarre tech to measure interest and attract investment.
Below are 10 of the coolest gadgets and innovations that were showcased at CES 2021.
Smart Mask with RGB
Keeping with the COVID-19 theme, gaming peripheral maker Razer has developed a prototype smart mask dubbed Project Hazel.
The mask offers a wide range of health benefits to protect users and those they come in contact with from transmission of COVID-19, including a surgical N95 respirator, active ventilation, and an auto-sterilisation charging case.
It wouldn’t be a Razer product without RGB, however, and thus the company has fitted both the inside and outside with lighting zones that can be customised to show particular colours and effects.
Solar-charged TV remote
It may seem like a basic concept, but the thought of never having to run to the shop to quickly buy new batteries for your TV remote is an enticing one.
Samsung’s new Eco Remote Control comes with an internal battery that can be recharged using a long panel of solar cells on its back.
You won’t have to worry about keeping it sunlit either, as Samsung has said it will be able to recharge using indoor light as well.
Samsung claimed the remote is capable of lasting for up to seven years of use. It will ship with the company’s new Neo QLED TVs.
More rollable smartphones
While foldables were all the rage in 2020, it appears that more companies are seeing the potential of rollable displays to extend and shrink screen sizes on smartphones.
After Oppo unveiled the first device of this kind last year, both LG and TCL have announced they will launch rollable smartphones.
These devices employ rolling mechanism which makes the display function like a scroll that can be rolled out or retracted.
TCL’s unit can extend from a 6.8-inch phone to a 7.8-inch tablet vertically, while LG’s extends in a horizontal orentation, although more details on its specifications are yet to be revealed.
Samsung’s new robots
Samsung’s Bot Care personal assistant and Bot Handy showed the potential of in-house robots as previously only seen in sci-fi films.
Bot Care uses AI to recognise and understand users’ behaviour.
Among its capabilities, it can help keep an eye on your habits and makes recommendations for when it’s time to take a break from work.
It can also keep track of your schedule and remind you of upcoming meetings.
Bot Handy can recognise objects, and identify their shape and make-up in order to handle them appropriately with its robotic arm.
It is able to move around, put dishes in the dishwasher, pack away groceries and pour you a drink, effectively being a helpful extra hand at home.
The Mudra Band makes the Apple Watch more useful by enabling you to control its features through simple finger gestures.
The band employs a special sensor that can detect electrical signals sent from your fingers to your brain.
It simply replaces the watch’s strap and then enables the user to answer or decline phone calls, turn off alarms, or take pictures by touching their fingers together or flicking their wrist.
The benefit is mainly that you are able to use your watch’s features while your hands are pre-occupied with other tasks, too dirty or too wet to use the touch screen.
TCL Wearable Display glasses
Not to be mistaken for virtual reality glasses, the TCL Wearable Display is effectively a high-quality TV you can carry around in your pocket.
It combines two OLED screens – one on each spectacle – to create the effect of viewing a 140-inch full HD display when worn.
Operation is simple, requiring only that the device be plugged into a smartphone, tablet, or computer on which the content is played.
No battery is included in the device, it simply draws power via the connected USB-C cable.
Tesla has been regarded as one of the biggest innovators when it comes to the progressive in-car infotainment systems in its electric cars.
Mercedez-Benz aims to go even further with the new MBUX Hyperscreen in its EQS EV.
This a 58-inch wide OLED display is made from Gorilla Glass and is the world’s most advanced infotainment system, according to Mercedes-Benz.
The system is powered by an eight-core processor paired with 24GB RAM to deliver a 46.6GB/s memory bandwidth.
This ensures fast and seamless viewing of vehicle metrics, as well as control of entertainment, navigation, connectivity, energy management, and even the massaging seats.
Non-invasive Glucose Detector
Japanese startup Quantum Operation has developed a wearable prototype watch that could prove to be useful to diabetics in particular.
The gadget, which resembles an Apple Watch, can be attached to a person’s arm to scan a number of health biometrics, most notably their blood glucose levels.
The company claims it achieved this by developing advanced spectroscopy materials built into the watch and band.
This means it potentially offers a non-invasive way for diabetics who need this metric to accurately determine an appropriate insulin dosage.
Most conventional methods require blood sampling or the use of more specialised equipment.
myQ Pet Portal
Many people will know the frustration of “toilet training” a new puppy, with the constant opening and closing of doors being a particular nuisance.
To address this, MyQ – a company which specialises in smart door solutions for garages – has come up with its Pet Portal.
The solution combines a small pet door which is connected via Bluetooth to an animal’s collar.
When the door detects the collar is in close proximity, it will automatically open to let the pet in or out.
Alternatively, a sensor fitted to the door can alert the owner that the dog or cat wants to go out or come in.
Separating your home’s waste from recyclables can be a cumbersome undertaking, particularly if the latter has to be divided between different types of materials, such as glass, plastic, and aluminium.
Lasso Loop Recycling’s home recycler aims to make recycling easier by automating the entire process.
The vertical standing machine looks similar to a dishwasher or tumble dryer and is intended to replace conventional dustbins.
After inserting your waste into a slot or tray a series of cameras and sensors in the machine will analyse the packaging and determine whether it is recyclable.
It will then depose the trash into a separate compartment and steam clean recyclable items to remove leftover food, dirt, grease, and labels.
These items will then be ground down and placed in another compartment for collection. When this becomes filled, you can arrange for a kerbside collection from a recycler via smartphone app.