This may be the year where virtual trade shows and industry events will be fully normalized. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) takes place every January, and at this time last year, the Las Vegas Convention Centre was abuzz with journalists and industry professionals eager to show, tell, and touch the bleeding edge of modern electronics.
This year’s virtual format was a first for the show, and its online accessibility has allowed the industry to get a close look at a wider variety of new gadgets than would have been possible at conventions of yesteryear. Whether it’s the sleek new crop of gaming laptops, the continued evolution of AMD and Intel CPUs, the mask of the future, or a cuddly robot to get you through hard times, there’s something here for everyone.
Various blogs were hyping business laptops as the name of the game this year, and although a fancy work-from-anywhere machine with an amazing webcam would be great for your Zoom calls, I wasn’t expecting to come across much novelty this year. So wasn’t I pleasantly surprised to see a whole host of intriguing innovations from across the technological spectrum! Here’s a shortlist of some of the more noteworthy products that I came across while stalking the floors in virtual Las Vegas.
Takumi: your robot chef
Dining out isn’t possible right now, and many of us have discovered our inner culinary genius, or perhaps the genius of one of the many meal delivery services out there. The Takumi is a new option for folks that are looking for a bit of extra innovation in the kitchen. It’s a smart cooker that promises to whip up a tasty meal in minutes with the press of a button. It can even make your morning coffee.
LivingPackets: The Box
Without a doubt, another area of major growth this past year has been the online marketplace. And with that, the amount of cardboard used to ship these products has gone up. The Box, by LivingPackets, has the lofty goal of creating an ecosystem of smart shipping containers that are sustainable, reusable, and cost-effective. A pilot project for their latest version of The Box is set to begin a pilot in France, and it will be interesting to see if they will have succeeded in closing the loop with customers re-using or returning the used boxes.
A faster in-screen fingerprint scanner
Samsung introduced its in-screen ultrasonic fingerprint scanner in the Galaxy S10 in 2019. A holy grail of screen development, it had the potential to revolutionize the way that we unlocked and interacted with our devices. Speed and reliability issues caused it to fall short of expectation, and it never managed to become an industry standard. Qualcomm has announced its latest version of the technology, which brings a larger scanner and better speed to the table. I’d love for this technology to get to a point where unlocking our phones becomes something that we don’t even know we’re doing, and that wearing a mask won’t interfere with. Hopefully, this new tech will make that happen, and although it wasn’t listed as a feature in the newly-announced Samsung Galaxy S21 (pre-order yours here!) it’s expected to make its way into smartphones early this year.
LG rollable phone
LG has been a leader in OLED panels for some time, and they’ve been working on bringing their rollable TV screen to market, though currently it’s prohibitively priced (it costs $85,000). Perhaps this technology will be more affordable when pocket-sized. LG has announced its rollable smartphone and has confirmed that it will be available in 2021. No further details are available at the moment, but I’m curious to see if this may be closer to the winning formula for bendable displays.
Samsung’s solar charging remote
For all of the flashy and futuristic gear on display this year, it’s those small quality-of-life improvements that will stand the test of time. In a few years, when the boatloads of gaming laptops are replaced with newer models and end up in the closet or (gasp) landfill, the solar-powered remote control will remain perched atop our coffee tables. Eliminating the need to keep a Costco pack of AAA batteries squirreled away in a drawer somewhere, this remote will essentially work forever. It may even outlast us. Now that’s something to get excited about!