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.

January 10, 2022 6:44 am
An attendee demonstrates the Owo vest, which allows users to feel physical sensations during metaverse experiences such as virtual reality games, including wind, gunfire or punching, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on January 5, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. - The CES tech show threw open its doors Wednesday in Las Vegas despite surging Covid-19 cases in the United States, as one of the world's largest trade fairs tried to get back to business. Despite some obvious gaps on the showfloor -- after high-profile companies like Amazon and Google cancelled over climbing virus risk -- crowds of badge-wearing tech entrepreneurs, reporters and aficionados poured through venues.
A CES 2022 attendee demonstrates the Owo vest, which allows users to feel physical sensations during metaverse experiences.
PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

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.

ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED
ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED

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.

The Amagami Ham Ham aims to replicate the play biting of cats and babies
Yukai Engineering

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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