CES, the annual gadget show that showcases the buzziest and brightest tech, looks different this year — less Vegas glitz, more internet efficiency. With no physical conference in Las Vegas due to the pandemic, 1,800 companies are instead taking to streaming video to show off new products and technology to 150,000 attendees across the globe.
Trends to watch reflect the tumultuous year that preceded it. These include COVID-related robots and gadgets, products that make it easier to work from home, more uses for 5G technology, AI infused in everything, and TVs that can bend or even become transparent.
Technology to battle the coronavirus will be big on the virtual show floor this year. Several companies are showcasing disinfecting robots. LG is introducing an autonomous UV-C light robot designed to irradiate viruses on heavily touched surfaces. (Largely unmentioned is the fact that COVID is largely transmitted by airborne vapor droplets, not viral smears on surfaces.)
To that end, 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.
Meanwhile several companies are offering “touchless" appliances and fixtures. Kohler and Toto are showcasing touchless sinks and toilets that automatically turn on and off or open and flush by waving your hand in front of a sensor or using a voice assistant.
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 will show 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.