CES 2021: Best Reveals
This year’s CES (consumer Electronics Show) isn’t in Las Vegas. The show was moved online due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. But even a global health emergency can’t stop the march of consumer technology. There are still plenty of gadgets, apps, electric vehicles, smart-home appliances, brain-training headsets, and Alexa-powered workout gear to tell you about.
To find the new tech innovations this year, attendees didn’t wander the millions of square feet of the Las Vegas Convention Center and surrounding facilities, but instead watched streamed presentations, combed through hundreds of exhibitors and, of course, heard plenty of pitches from entrepreneurs and marketing folks eager to keep us in the loop.
That means the attendees weren’t able to touch and feel the innovations like in years past. Still, it hasn’t stopped CES 2021 from bringing the craziest, coolest and most innovative gadgets that will be released this year.
Sony unveiled its first full-electric concept car that greets you as soon as you approach the vehicle. It features 6 dashboard touch screens where you can access all of the media controls including things like Sony-owned movies, music, and games. Speakers are also embedded into each seat’s headrest. If that’s not enough, it comes with more than 10 Sony image sensors embedded throughout the vehicle, alongside a host of other sensors like LIDAR, and ultrasonic. The largest audience showing interest in Sony’s concept car is a group of “Hardcore Gamers”.
Pimax’s 8K VR Headset
Consumers have been waiting a long time for the Pimax 8K X — 14 months, to be precise. When it launched on the popular crowdfunding platform in late 2017, it boasted lofty specs and big ambitions, many of which sounded like wish-list items than something actually deliverable.
Yet, at CES 2020, Pimax delivered. The impressive headset, which now retails for a cool $1,300, features twin 4K displays and a 200-degree field of view, allowing for a better sense of peripheral vision and minimizing the claustrophobia many experience with VR. Yeah, it’s a behemoth rig and requires an insanely powerful PC to operate, but if you’re looking for the most lifelike VR experience to be had, the Pimax 8K X is your best bet.
Samsung Bespoke 4-Door Flex
If you’re the type of person who stares blankly at the contents of your fridge trying to figure out what you can make with what you already have, a new Samsung fridge is here to save you.
The latest version of the Bespoke refrigerator features changeable panels that come with a choice of colors and materials that made the original a success, allowing consumers to adjust their fridge for form and function. The new 4-Door model, available in North America this spring, also includes a brand-new Beverage Center™, which gives quick access to a water dispenser and an automatically-filled water pitcher. The 4-door Bespoke also comes equipped with a Dual Auto Ice Maker which makes not only regular cubed ice but also smaller ‘ice bites’ to suit different preferences for cold beverages.
The technology even tracks expiration dates, so you don’t have to worry about wondering if the mayo is bad. And for those with specific diet preferences like gluten-free or vegetarian, you can customize the platform to incorporate them.
LG’s Latest 4K Projector
LG’s laser projection tech is among the best around, which is why I’m excited to see its brand-new Cinebeam projector in person. In addition to offering excellent color accuracy, it features LG’s WebOS interface, AirPlay connectivity, and WiSa and Bluetooth connectivity (in addition to HDMI eARC) for audio. Needless to say, this should be one of the easiest projectors to get an image to and sound out of. It’s also capable of massive images: It will fill screens of up to 300 inches, for a truly cinematic experience.
The new LG CineBeam HU810P 4K laser projector is launching off the back of the CES 2021 expo, with the next iteration of LG’s accomplished projector range landing on January 18.
It’ll work both in small and large homes, then, and allow some wiggle room for those who tend to move their projector between different rooms.
Sony Airpeak Drone
Sony is getting into the drone business and the company had first revealed its Airpeak drone a couple of months ago but now, during CES 2021, the company showcased it.
The Sony Airpeak drone is touted to be the smallest drone capable of carrying an Alpha-series camera. The company reveals that it is specially designed for video content creation and professional photography.
The drone will be equipped with an Alpha mirrorless camera to capture high-quality images and videos. As shown in the image below, the aircraft features a rectangular central body with a gimbal. The legs retract upwards after the drone takes off to allow the camera to rotate 360 degrees. Built with a quadcopter design, each of the arms sports a propeller, a motor and rotor.
Panasonic Lumix BGH1
Panasonic’s new Micro Four Thirds video camera could become the next go-to device for filmmakers. Building off much of what made its GH series cameras popular in the first place—high quality video, low image noise levels, and support for industry-standard codecs and gamma curves—the BGH1 is aimed squarely at video pros. It’s small, lightweight (under 18 ounces), and screen less. The expectation is that you’ll hook it up to an external monitor through the full size HDMI output. That gets to the heart of the BGH1; its modular design means you can build it out the way you need it to be. The box-style camera is meant to compete with the likes of the Red Komodo and the Hasselblad 907X, both of which have similar form factors but cost nearly three times as much. To be fair, those cameras have larger sensors than the BGH1, but Panasonic is betting that for many filmmakers, it’s good enough. Netflix at least is on board; the company is reportedly sending the BGH1 out to many of its show-runners so they can start shooting with it.
Hex Home Security
Security cameras do a great job of spotting intruders—provided they step into the camera’s field of view. The Hex Home Security system from Origin Wireless can sense a burglar no matter where they move inside your house. A Hex Command Hub and Hex Sense plug-ins blanket your home with Wi-Fi radio waves and then use artificial intelligence to analyze how those waves are disrupted by people walking around. If you’re not home, the Hex Sense units will sound an 80dB siren and the system will send an alert to your smartphone via your Wi-Fi network. You can tune the system’s sensitivity so that your pets won’t set it off and trigger a false alarm. Origin says it plans to offer an optional but inexpensive professional monitoring service plan that will dispatch the police if you can’t be reached after an alarm is tripped. A kit adequate for a 1,500-square-foot home will arrive this spring for $180.
Noopl Hearing Enhancer
Hearing loss is no joke once you hit the magic age of 40, but a new gadget debuting at CES could make for a more effective alternative to a hearing aid (or simply cupping your ear). Equipped with technology licensed from the National Acoustics Laboratory in Sydney, Australia, the Apple MFi Certified Noopl plugs into the Lightning connector on your iPhone or iPad, and it uses a triangular array of three beamforming MEMS (microelectromechanical system) microphones and a head-tracking system to amplify the sounds that are coming from directly in front of you, while also screening out background noise. Designed to work with Apple AirPods, the $199 Noopl can also be used with any other headphones or microphones, provided you manually control the direction of the microphones using the Noopl app for iOS (an Android version is in the works too).
LG’s Rollable phone
LG teased its Rollable phone yesterday at the Consumer Electronics Show, and now the company is confirming it’s a real product that will be available in 2021. The LG Rollable has what the company calls a “unique resizable screen” that extends from a phone into a small tablet display. The screen slides in and out of place to provide a bigger screen area.
LG is working with China’s BOE Technology Group on the rollable screen technology. LG has not yet confirmed what display tech the Rollable is using, or any details on the different display sizes.
Samsung Bot Handy
Robots are a common sight at CES events, and companies simply won’t stop showing off their robo-tech. This year at CES 2021, the best robot we came across is Samsung’s Bot Handy, It’s an upright robot with a rolling base, and it has a long mechanical arm equipped with a clamp to pick things up.
The Bot Handy is designed to help with house chores, like cleaning up messy rooms, picking up and throwing away trash, and putting dirty laundry into washing machines. It’s even delicate enough to put dirty dishes into the dishwasher. But, why stop there? The Bot Handy will truly prove its worth when it pours you a glass of wine. Good robot.
To perform these complex tasks, the Bot Handy relies on AI and delicate mechanics to apply an appropriate amount of force with its clamp.
The Bot Handy is still in development with no definitive price or sales date at the moment. However, Samsung will have its smart robo-vacuum, called the JetBot 90 AI+, available this year. It’s essentially a smarter and better vacuuming robot that doubles as a travelling security camera. Unfortunately, we don’t know how much the JetBot will cost yet, or exactly when it’ll be released.
CES is always chock full of wearable technology and wellness gadgets, but the COVID-19 pandemic has put health in focus more than ever in 2021. One of the most promising devices at this year’s CES is Razer’s Project Hazel, which aims to fix many of the shortcomings and inconveniences that come with wearing masks today.
Project Hazel is an N95 respirator prototype that comes with a special UV light charging case for disinfection, a built-in microphone and amplifier to make it easier to speak loudly while wearing the mask, and clear design so that others can actually see your mouth when worn. And of course, in typical Razer style, the mask also lights up automatically in the dark.
Mercedes-Benz MBUX Hyperscreen
There were plenty of futuristic car tech unveiled, but most were more fantasy than reality. One that is actually coming is Mercedes-Benz’s next-gen vehicle infotainment system, the MBUX Hyperscreen.
The highlight is a high-resolution 56-inch OLED display that spans across the entire dashboard. Technically divided into three components — digital gauge for the driver, a central 17.7-inch touchscreen, and a screen for the front passenger — the Hyperscreen incorporates artificial intelligence to help the driver adjust controls without taking hands off the wheel or eyes off the road. While such telematics aren’t entirely revolutionary, the Hyperscreen digitizes nearly every control — something we will start to see more and more in new cars.
The MBUX Hyperscreen will debut in the all-electric Mercedes EQS this spring.