5 Things We Learned From This Year’s CES
Screens are better than ever. The metaverse wants to give you all the feels. Plus, robot biting cats.
I mean this in a nice way: It’s probably good that CES, the annual consumer tech convention in Las Vegas, was basically a ghost town in real life.
While not good news for vendors or other workers who rely on crowds of people, we are still in the midst of a pandemic. And even with several companies pulling out of the truncated event — which ran officially from Jan. 5-7 — there were still plenty of new gadgets and tech trends to discuss. (Note: We did not attend in person.)
Without further ado, a few interesting CES developments:
The big news involved screens, in all sizes, shapes and places
Screens are bigger, better, with different displays and even in unexpected locations — witness the 31-inch in-car screen for BMWs (at least if you’re in the backseat; take note, Tesla). But it was also about updating current screen technology, which is why LG was touting OLED EX for its TVS (basically, brighter OLED) while Samsung, Sony and Alienware countered with QD-OLED for its TVs and monitors (basically, um, brighter OLED). But if you really want to make an impression? Grab this 7-foot digital screen via the French tech brand La Vitre, which is pretty much like Zoom but seeing people at a real life (well, digital real life) scale. Or multitask with Samsung’s Odyssey Ark, a 55-inch curved monitor that rotates between landscape and portrait orientation.
We’re still folding things
Folding everything was a big trend two years ago, and it hasn’t really caught on … yet. Maybe this year, though: Debuting some time this year will be the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold, a 17-inch laptop display that folds into a 13-inch screen. While folding phones are slowly becoming a thing, this is only the second foldable laptop on the market (Samsung, which is already doing well with the aforementioned foldable phones, also showed off some concepts, as did Intel).
The metaverse is leaning into reality
While we still harbor doubts about how ready we are for an immersive 3-D virtual reality in our everyday lives, several pieces of tech will at least help us dive in. As Axios noted, CES saw the debut of Shiftall, a body tracking suit that’ll bring your legs into VR; Pebble Feel, which adds heat and cold elements; and Skinitic, a vest that adds haptic feedback while you’re digitally roaming (OWO is another haptic vest).
We’re getting gadgets that are instantly useful
Apparently, Sony putting built-in finders in their remotes is considered a novel concept — and if you’ve ever lost a remote, you know this tech is long overdue. Samsung’s tiny new swivable Freestyle projector is more about creating moods than serious TV watching, but it can project a 100-inch “screen” almost anywhere. Samsung’s Eco Remote needs no batteries; it charges from solar energy and the radio waves from your Wi-Fi router.
And then some things that are not
We’re all for more EVs, but Sony seems to be tying their upcoming model into their Playstation console and referring to the vehicle as an “entertainment space” (keep your eyes on the road, people). Sure, “invisible” earphones seem interesting, but this Noveto concept, which beams spatial audio to its user without disturbing people around you, fell like a very expensive way to just not wear headphones. And finally, there’s a robot cat that gently bites your finger because … it can, I guess.
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