From At-Home Health Devices to Sex Tech: 5 Main Takeaways From CES 2021
This year's show accurately reflected our current reality, with a focus on the kinds of products we use when health is on the brain and we're stuck at home.
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We’re stuck at home and worried about Covid. CES 2021 catered to this current reality.
The tech conference went all digital this year, but still managed to show off plenty of interesting tech among the 2000+ showcasing companies. Artificial intelligence, e-sports (well, really, anything gaming related), rollable phones, 5G, ridiculous TVs and wild concept vehicles all made appearances; honestly, you might not have noticed too much difference between 2021 and past editions, format aside.
That said, there was an obvious new emphasis this year on “at home” products — the Jan. 11 Media Day kickoff was specifically focused on work, health and entertainment gear and ideas for our stay-at-home lifestyles. And health-related products (like disinfection robots) and ideas saw an expected boost, as evidenced below.
Five interesting takeaways from CES 2021:
Your Screens Will Get More Ridiculous (And See-Through)
Besides unveiling an array of new 4K and 8K Ultra HD TVs (in 55-, 65-, 77- and 88-inch screen sizes), LG also announced a new AI processor to help upscale content and even audtomatically adjust for content/genre. The highlight, however, was a fully transparent display that rises from the foot of a bed.
Filming on Location Might Go Away
While Sony was showcasing its recent slate of impressive tech — 360 Reality Audio, Playstation 5 and a new drone called Airpeak (aimed at professional photographers) — they also discussed a new concept called Virtual Production with Volumetric Real World Capture. Basically, with this camera setup and some mixed reality tools, sets and locations for film/TV productions can be captured as “3D volumetric point cloud data,” then processed by proprietary Sony software and displayed as a background image. Then actors can realistically interact on these virtual environments, but it’ll look real. Possibly a real necessity in a Covid-era where filming has been delayed and travel is limited.
Health Will Stay on Everyone’s Mind (and in Their Devices)
This might be the first year where room and air sanitizing was making tech headlines. Companies like Clean Air Zone (air purification R&D), Breeze (smart clear masks), Ettie (temperature-tracking doorbells), Airvida (world’s smallest air purifier) and Unipin (disinfection robots) were just part of a larger wave of Covid-era tech. And, uh, full-on Covid helmets.
But it wasn’t just all pandemic-related. We saw a bevy of Eyesafe-certified tech (aka low blue light), as well as the world’s first non-invasive 24/7 glucose monitor, a headset for personalized brain mapping and a device to quantify food allergens in under two minutes.
Speaking of Home, Your Appliances Can Now Do Everything
LG and Samsung showed off fridges and freezers that have built-in ice makers for clear and pebble ice, respectively. LG also had a smart oven that offered a built-in air fryer and sous vide system. ColdSnap debuted a pod-based soft ice cream maker akin to a dessert Keuring. And though it’s not going to be a reality for anyone anytime soon, there was a presentation for a full robotic kitchen via Moley.
CES Embraced Sex (Finally)
Sex tech was finally allowed on the floor of CES just last year, albeit with plenty of rules. Maybe going all digital this year helped a little more, as one company even got a conference spotlight: Satisfyer was honored with a CES Innovation Award in 2021. It was the only sextech brand to earn this honor (you can find a full list of Innovation honorees here).
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