For the first time in its 54-year history, the annual Consumer Electronics Show — the showcase for the world’s newest, hottest home technology — was an online-only event.
COVID-19 forced this month’s show, which typically draws 175,000 attendees to the Las Vegas Convention Center and neighbouring venues, to go digital. Still, the 2021 CES managed to impress with its 1,800 or so virtual exhibitors, keynote speeches, fireside chats and company videos that teased with glimpses of the personal technology we’ll be using in the months and years to come.
CES is the show that launched the camcorder and CD player (1981), DVDs (1996), HDTV (1998), personal video recorder (1999), Xbox (2001), Blu-ray Disc (2003) and internet-connected TV (2005).
With the four-day show online-only, it meant not being able to personally see new television tech, nor sit inside an autonomous vehicle and watch how it drove around the strip (as I did a few years ago).
With that in mind, the following are a few of the impressive home-related tech items coming in the months and years ahead:
To serve and … pamper? South Korean tech giant Samsung gave us a glimpse into Bot Handy, a domestic robot that can roam around your home to perform various chores, such as picking up clothes from the floor or loading the dishwasher. (As a parent of three teenagers, please sign me up!)
As seen in a teaser video, Bot Handy can also pour a glass of wine and bring it to you.
While very much a prototype, the tall and thin Bot Handy is powered by cameras, A.I., a versatile arm to accomplish its tasks, and a digital face that can show different emotions.
For another kind of pampering, the ColdSnap appliance received plenty of press during CES as it’s considered the “Keurig for ice cream lovers.” Due out in 2022, this 50-pound machine makes soft serve ice cream, on demand, from pods that look like aluminum cans. Plus, you can pick up pods for smoothies and daiquiris, too.
Adibot was another robot that debuted at CES. Ubtech’s disinfecting robot combines robotics, A.I. and ultraviolet light (UV-C) to disinfect targeted surfaces and air by deactivating the DNA and RNA of harmful pathogens, says the company.
Along with homes, it can be used in public places, such as retail stores, classrooms and office spaces.
Available in both stationary and autonomous models, Adibots feature 360-degree, UV-C light coverage to effectively kill 99.9 per cent of bacteria.
Ubtech has introduced other robots at previous years’ CES events, including Walker (an autonomous indoor monitoring robot), Cruzr (an enterprise-grade service robot), and JIMU (an award-winning robotics kit for kids).
Through the looking glass: New TVs typically garner the most buzz at CES, and this year was no exception.
LG’s first “OLED evo” displays — namely, its just-unveiled G1 TVs — were an obvious standout for improved brightness to complement the exceptional contrast that OLED offers and, in turn, making colours more vibrant.
Because of its incredible thinness at just 0.79 inches (for the 65-inch model), it’s like a piece of art you can mount flush to a wall, or prop it up on a new Gallery Stand, also coming in 2021, says LG.
Also available in 55- and 77-inch sizes when it debuts this year, this TV looks to be ideal for gamers, too, as it features four HDMI 2.1 ports that support 4K resolution at 120Hz (for smooth motion), as well as integrated Google Stadia and GeForce Now (two cloud-based gaming platforms). No price or launch date has been confirmed.
Samsung also had a few big television announcements, including its NeoQLED, which is also designed to amp up the brightness in its branded QLED (“quantum dot”)-based TVs.
Samsung says its NeoQLED line uses significantly smaller LED lights, allowing more to be used that result in more finely controlled brightness, and five times higher contrast ratios than Samsung’s previous Q900 model.
Under the hood of these NeoQLED TVs is a new Quantum Processor, which is said to harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (A.I.) to enhance the entertainment experience, such as “upscaling” 1080p (full HD) or 4K content to near 8K resolution on some models.
When it debuts at some point in 2021, these TVs are said to ship with a solar-powered remote, which also works with indoor lighting. Samsung says this kind of technology could save 20 million AAA batteries every year.
Touchless tech: Hands-free gadgets and other COVID-19-related solutions were understandably popular at this year’s show.
Alarm.com, for example, showcased a new video doorbell that uses A.I. and can detect when someone has arrived on a doorstep, along with a doormat that notifies the homeowner when someone stands on it. The camera and microphone are then activated, to initiate a chat with the visitor. No word yet if this will debut in Canada.
Touchless faucets debuted at CES, with new 2021 designs and finishes, and available for about $650. The U by Moen Smart Faucet starts the flow of water with a wave of the hand in front of a small sensor, and also by voice if you have an Alexa- or Google-enabled smart speaker nearby.
You can even ask for a specific temperature and amount of water. That’s right: place a pot underneath the faucet and ask for two cups of hot water. There’s also an app to create pre-sets, like “coffee maker” or “baby bottle,” with desired amounts and temperatures.
It can also help with hand washing — say something like “OK, Google, ask Moen to wash my hands,” and the water will turn on to wet your hands, then turn off while you lather for 20 seconds, and then turn back on after 20 seconds when it’s time to rinse.
And, yes, the faucet has a manual handle, too.
Kohler revealed its Touchless Toilet at CES; simply wave your hand in front of the handle and it will flush automatically, to help reduce the need for touching surfaces in the era of coronavirus.
Finally, Razer’s Project Hazel is another sign of the times. This prototype face mask features microphones and amplifiers to boost your voice so you don’t sound muffled. Plus it’s somewhat transparent, with lights that automatically illuminate your lips when it’s dark out.
This content was originally published here.