CES, the flashy, annual tech show always sure to unveil a few headline-grabbing inventions and tech trends, is usually held in Las Vegas.
But due to the pandemic, the Consumer Electronics Show moved online this year, showcasing 1,800 companies to 150,000 “attendees” from Monday to Thursday.
The lack of neon and glad-handing didn’t stop the event from unveiling its usual array of trendsetting, mindblowing (or head-scratching) products.
From a flying Cadillac to “the world’s smartest mask,” here’s a look at some of the highlights:
The Cadillac of flying cars
General Motors Co. presented a futuristic flying Cadillac — a self-driving vehicle that takes off and lands vertically and carries the passenger above the streets and through the air. A senior GM executive described the concept as “reimagining the future of personal transportation.”
The single-passenger Cadillac — technically, a vertical take-off and landing drone — will be able to travel from urban rooftop to urban rooftop at speeds of up to 88 kilometres per hour. It is fully autonomous and all-electric, with a 90kW motor, a GM Ultium battery pack and an ultra-lightweight body with four pairs of rotors.
Separately, an autonomous Cadillac shuttle, described as “arriving soon,” has wraparound lounge-like seating, plus biometric sensors, voice control and hand gesture recognition. GM declined to disclose further details.
Other automakers, including Toyota Motor, Hyundai Motor and Geely Automobile, have previously shown concept aerial vehicles as part of their future planning.
Robo-friendship for seniors
CareClever presented its latest version of the Cutii companion, one designed specifically for seniors. It proposes activities such as yoga and nature walks, uses voice recognition and offers video calls and messaging via its WiFi connection. It also features games and music playable from its touch screen.
Three years after winning the prestigious “Tech for a Better World” at CES 2017, Boston-based CareClever will officially launch Cutii, the world’s first companion robot specifically designed to overcome social isolation and cognitive decline for seniors at CES 2021. pic.twitter.com/UFpkyzPiTr
Among its artificial intelligence features is the ability to adapt to its companion’s behaviours as well as the ability to learn the living space, moving within the room to keep the person company or to return to its charging station.
The French company also plans to use AI to detect posture and use that to determine whether there may be an emergency. So far the company has 30 Cutii robots in senior facilities and 10 in individual homes in France. The company is also branching out in the U.S. with six robots being tested in Connecticut.
Plans for Canada’s 1st zero-emission car enters next stage
Project Arrow, the plan for a zero-emission car entirely designed and made in Canada, launched its formal request for proposal (RFP) process for suppliers on the first day of CES.
The Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA) says more than 130 firms have expressed interest.
Aiming for the 2022 and 2023 auto show circuit, Project Arrow expects up to 200 companies to bid before the RFP deadline of March 1.
Getting a leg up
Factory workers and surgeons whose jobs require them to stand for hours in one place could see relief from leg and back pain, in the form of a wearable exoskeleton leg device from Japanese startup Archelis.
The device straps to the legs and disperses the wearer’s body weight so it is supported by the shins and thighs, making standing easier and less tiring.
Japanese startup Archelis has designed a wearable exoskeleton leg to assist factory workers whose jobs require them to stand for hours in one place pic.twitter.com/xRPmwf6R4Y
The ArchelisFX device, whose name derives from the Japanese for “walkable chair,” is all-mechanical and does not require any electricity to operate. It will retail for around $5,000 US.
See-through and bendable screens
Each year, big TV makers display the dazzling technology that could eventually come to your home TV set, though generally not soon. In addition to the yearly crop of ever-bigger, brighter and sharper TVs, LG Display showed off a “smart bed” that includes a 55-inch transparent TV that rises from the bed frame.
Another version of the transparent TV is designed for restaurants, so customers could browse the menu and watch a chef prepare food behind it at the same time.
LG has also announced a bendable version of a 48-inch display that can curve on demand — a feature designed for gamers.
COVID mask tech
LG is promoting a wearable air purifier and a portable air purifier that you can use to purify air in a car or office. They both have fans and HEPA filters.
A smaller company called AirPop debuted the Active+ Smart Mask, which monitors your breathing and the quality of the air around you.
Also, Razer unveiled what it called “the world’s smartest mask,” a transparent N95 respirator that includes interior lights and a built-in amplifier.