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Around the CES in 27 products

This year, the show was back with a vengeance in Las Vegas with companies showcasing cars and laptops that change colour; TV screens that can be attached to any surface and even transform from flat to curved at the click of a button; motorcycles that can be folded; robot helpers and smart stethoscopes to aid doctors, among others.

Here are some of the best products we saw. They give us a sense of what to expect over the next two-five years.

Transforming the TV Screen

New television technology has been the mainstay of CES for a long time. Even though Sony chose to focus more on cars at this year’s event, competitors Samsung and LG continued to showcase their newest TV technologies.

Samsung displayed ways for users with visual impairment to watch TVs. The company’s visual aid solution—called Relumino—allows users with low vision to watch content on TVs. The solution will be available as an in-built feature in the new Samsung Neo QLED (quantum light-emitting diode) 8K and 4K TVs, expected to be launched this year. 8K and 4K refer to the TV’s resolution. 4K has 3,840 horizontal pixels and 2,160 vertical pixels—more pixels mean higher screen resolution and sharper images.

Relumino activates a colour invert mode that enhances contrast ratio and makes the outline of the objects clearer to viewers with vision impairment. The company will also sell eye-glasses later this year, which will allow users to access Relumino on its older TVs.

LG showcased a fully transparent TV screen. The transparent OLED TV (display technology based on organic light-emitting diodes) has a see-through screen that allows one to see the objects behind it when it’s not switched on and playing content. This TV is meant for windows in shopping malls, cars or metro trains, and LG showcased it at CES as the side window of one of its concept cars.

The company also demonstrated an OLED Flex TV that can switch from a flat to a curved screen at the press of a button. Users can choose from 20 levels of curves, or the one that best fits their needs. The TV received the CES 2023 innovation award for gaming.

Yet another product from LG was its 97-inch wireless TV with no in-built connectors, except the power cord. All the connectors are placed inside a separate transmitter box which uses an antenna to connect to the TV wirelessly, removing the typical clutter of cables seen around TVs.

Meanwhile, Displace unveiled a 55-inch wireless 4K TV with in-built batteries. The TV weighs just under 9 kg and can be placed on any wall using suction cups. It has no remote and can be controlled with hand gestures. According to the firm, users can connect up to four Displace TVs to create a giant screen with up to 16K resolution.

The colour-changing car

As the name suggests, CES is about ‘consumer electronics’. So, the auto industry doesn’t showcase its best at the event on a regular basis. The rule of thumb usually has been to talk about its upcoming technologies at the CES and then showcase prototypes and physical models at the Detroit Auto Show, which is organized later in the year.

This year was slightly different. Sony Honda Mobility (SHM), a newly-formed joint venture between Japanese firms Sony and Honda, unveiled a new lineup of concept electric cars called Afeela, which has 45 sensors and cameras placed inside and outside the car to detect obstacles and track the driver’s well-being. The cars will use chips from Qualcomm, while gaming major Epic Games is helping with entertainment. SHM is planning to launch Afeela in North America in two years.

BMW showcased a concept car called the I-Vision Dee, which can change its body colour on the go. The car’s exterior has 240 colour e-ink technology based panels with 32 colour options in each. E-ink is the same technology used in screens on Amazon’s Kindle e-readers. The I-Vision Dee’s windshield supports mixed reality, meaning it can display useful information and augmented reality (AR) projections of the car’s path.

Further, companies like Bosch showcased new sensors and camera systems that can enhance user safety and aid drivers and passengers in distress. For instance, the company’s RideCare solution allows car owners to connect to Bosch associates in case of an accident or other emergency.

Bosch Off Zone crash detection also uses an array of sensors placed inside the car to analyse the angle of impact and activate safety airbags on time.

Chipmaker Qualcomm unveiled the Snapdragon Digital Chassis, a multi-purpose platform that can be used by car makers to offer experiences like immersive infotainment, driver assistance, and enhanced safety.

The folding motorcycle

Besides cars, CES 2023 also saw some innovations in motorcycles. Japanese startup ICOMA, for instance, turned heads with a new electric bike concept called Tatamel. Made of 3D-printed parts, the bike’s modular design allows it to be folded like a suitcase and parked inside the house, making it relevant for cities with limited parking spaces. The bike has a 10-inch wheel in the front and a 6.5-inch back wheel.

Chinese firm Davinci Motor also showcased DC100, a futuristic electric motorcycle, which is designed to go from 0-100 kmph in just 3 seconds and hit top speeds of up to 200 kmph.

Extending Reality

Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta’s struggles with building its metaverse may have cast a shadow on the entire trend, but CES 2023 made it quite clear that companies aren’t giving up just yet. Headsets and body suits designed to make the metaverse experience more realistic were on display at the tech show.

For instance, US-based startup OVR Technology showcased an olfactory VR headset that allows users to smell objects in the metaverse, while South Korean firm bHaptics showcased haptic vests and gloves that allow users to feel sensations in the metaverse.

Sony showcased a portable volumetric system that can reconstruct 3D animated versions of people, objects, and spaces in real time. The generated content can be viewed in metaverse or Sony’s spatial reality displays. English Premier League club Manchester City is one of the first users of this technology.

Similarly, Indian startup AjnaLens showed mixed reality platform Ajna Vidya that allows companies to leverage technology and its immersive experiences to offer skilling programmes to employees. Individuals can sign up for off-the-shelf training modules to upgrade their skills.

Toy-like Robot Helpers

At first glance, CATI by Catius Inc looks like a stuffed toy. However, it is a conversational robot powered by artificial intelligence (AI) that is capable of recognizing a child’s speech. CATI can converse with children in the age group of 2-5 years and help develop language, cognitive and social skills. It also analyses speech data of children from interactions and updates parents on the child’s progress.

CATI was one of the many innovative robots on this year’s show floors. Across Vegas, there were a host of companies showcasing robots that can talk to people, perform various tasks and respond to emergencies.

For instance, Hong Kong-based Enabot showcased a family companion robot called EBO X, which uses facial recognition technology to identify people and can converse with them using the EBO Home app. It has far-field sound sensors with a four-microphone array to detect any signs of emergency, like crying or a call for help even if the sounds are low. The system supports Alexa allowing users to control home devices through it.

Smart Stethoscopes

Smartsound’s smart stethoscope Skeeper R1 uses AI to automatically detect heart murmurs and abnormal lung sounds. The device has an in-built screen to display the readings which cut smartphone dependence. Another startup, Aevice Health, showed a wearable smart stethoscope that also uses AI to identify abnormal lung sounds in asthma patients. This one has to be paired with a smartphone to get the readings and analysis of the overall lung health of the patient.

Meanwhile, Abbott unveiled a new spinal cord stimulation device called Proclaim Plus, which can send mild electrical pulses to the nerves altering how the body receives pain signals. This can hugely improve the life of people suffering from chronic pain, the firm claims. The device has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Then there was Motion Pillow 2023 by South Korea-based 10Minds Co Ltd, which uses a motion detection system to listen to snoring sounds and adjust the user’s head position by partially inflating airbags in a specially designed connected pillow. As the pillow inflates, it tilts the head to open the airways and reduce snoring.

Exoskeletons, Hearing Aids

Samsung’s Relumino isn’t the only technology meant to help the differently abled that we saw at the CES this year. The segment had a host of other gadgets. For instance, the HP Hearing Pro is an FDA-approved wireless hearing aid device that looks like a regular pair of wireless stereo headphones. Meant for users facing mild to moderate hearing loss, the device uses special calibration algorithms to measure the hearing level of a user and adjust the sound levels to suit them. It uses directional microphones to focus on sound coming from the front.

Further, US-based startup Biomotum showcased an exoskeleton that can assist senior citizens by reducing the stress on their limbs while walking. Sony also unveiled a new game controller, called Project Leonardo, for gamers with physical disabilities. The controller allows users to rearrange the position of controls as per their convenience.

Touchpad that Reveals Itself

LG’s new laptop, called the LG Gram Style, stands out with a glass design that changes colour based on ambient lighting and viewing angles. It also has a hidden touchpad, which reveals itself when you are using it. A soft LED along the edges lights up when you are using the touchpad, but otherwise, the base of the keyboard looks plain. But LG wasn’t the only company taking a shot at reimagining laptops. Lenovo showcased a dual-screen notebook, called the Yoga Book 9i, with two 13-inch OLED screens held together by a hinge. The second screen can double up as a keyboard, but users can also use the two screens as one large screen or two separate screens for side-by-side multi-tasking. Lenovo offers a separate physical keyboard for those instances.

Smart Devices

The Matter industry standard, which finally started rolling out devices in November, was always supposed to be a highlight of CES 2023. The industry standard, which was formed by collaboration between Amazon, Google, Apple and more than 200 other companies, is set to help the proliferation of smart home devices, both in the enterprise and consumer markets, by allowing smart home products from different companies to interact with each other.

A case in point is Samsung’s wireless charging pad, called SmartThings Station, which can double up as a controller for smart home devices and can save three routine smart home settings, allowing users to control or give commands to multiple devices across the household at the press of a button.

Similarly, TP-Link Homebase Tapo H900 smart home hub can be used as a controller for all Matter compatible devices in a home. TV brands including LG and HiSense also announced support for Matter in their upcoming TVs.

(The writer was in Las Vegas at the invitation of Consumer Technology Association, which organizes the CES.)

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