The new decade kicked off in suitably futuristic style in Las Vegas recently with CES. This eagerly-anticipated annual tech expo brought us the very best of new technology, along with a glimpse of what weird and wonderful gadgets the future may hold. From state-of-the-art TVs to smart planks of wood, CES covered the full range, from the breathtaking to the (frankly) baffling.
We may still be a long way from the kind of robot-run future predicted by so many sci-fi visionaries, but there were still some stunning ideas on show before the 160,000-strong audience sitting in the 2.7 million square feet of stands. The new ideas covered all walks of life, from computer games and the latest technical infrastructure for the casino industry to home gadgets you never even knew you needed. Here are ten of our favourite flights of fancy from CES this year.
1. Top TV Tech
TVs were big news at CES, with a huge range of innovative screens on show. Samsung premiered their modular screen, with interchangeable panels that can make it theoretically as large as you like. 8K was also a big theme at the show, with OLED TVs from the likes of LG. There were also a number of vertical screens on show, turning traditional viewing on its side. But perhaps the most exciting of all the TVs on show came from LG, with their Signature OLED TV R—an ultra-thin roll-up TV that rolls away into its speaker box base just like an old projector screen.
2. Perfect Personal Make-up
Imagine being able to use all those photoshop and image manipulation tricks you use to make your photos look better on your actual face. That’s what Procter and Gamble are offering with their new Opté hand-held skin printer. The device scans your face for blemishes and sends instructions to 120 micro ink jets that deliver product onto your skin to make you look younger and blemish-free.
3. The Notebook for Life
With the new indestructible notebook from Nuka, you’ll never need to buy another notebook again. It looks and feels just like any other jotter, but there are significant differences. To start with, you can write underwater or pretty much anywhere else, in any conditions, because the marks are made by a chemical interaction between pen and paper, with no ink. You can also use it with a conventional pen or pencil, and when you’ve finished with your notes, the page can be wiped clean to start again.
4. The Terabyte SD Card
Boasting a capacity that many laptops, and even desktops, can only dream of, the new Lexar 1TB 663x SDXC card takes simple storage to a whole new level. It’s way beyond what most people will ever need, but it could be a lifesaver for the music industry or 4K and 8K filmmakers.
5. The Smart Plank of Wood
Perhaps the most bizarre gadget on show at CES was the Mui board. Looking just like any other piece of wood, it is in fact a fully-integrated control interface that will play music, control your heating and other devices, search the web and much more. We’ll never be able to use the phrase ‘thick as two short planks’ again!
6. The Smart Door
Speaking of clever bits of wood, the e-Door is the answer to all those online shopping problems. Instead of coming home to cards telling you to pester your neighbors for your package, the e-Door expands inwards to create the perfect postbox for your delivery, whether it’s dry cleaning or one of those huge Amazon boxes with a tiny item in it. Operated by an e-key that is only available to the delivery company, it is as secure as it is convenient.
Cute round robot helpers may not be as futuristic as we think.
7. A Ball-shaped Robot
Not quite the size of Star Wars’ BB8, the Ballie from Samsung could be just as useful and every bit as cute! It comes complete with motors, cameras and sensors, so it can follow you around—ready to take care of your every need—and it is designed to be the perfect companion, doing everything from taking photographs to playing the role of personal trainer.
8. Laundry Luxuries
For many of us, doing the laundry is the biggest drag. But never fear, because CES has the answer to all your wash-day problems—particularly if you are very lazy when it comes to laundry time. For example, LG has created a wardrobe with a built-in steamer that gently vibrates to shake out the creases from clothes and save on the ironing. You can even get a machine that will fold your clothes for you, making them ready to put away. The Foldmate robotic laundry folder is only for those with larger homes, though, as it is around the size of your company photocopier.
9. Saving Seconds
If you don’t save enough vital minutes in your life by having your laundry folded for you, you can cut three minutes off your teeth-brushing time with the revolutionary new Y-Brush. Somewhere between a gum shield and an electric toothbrush, the Y-Brush saves essential seconds for the ultra-busy by brushing all your teeth at once.
10. The Cyclist’s Airbag
Finally, if you were floored by the audacity, imagination or sheer craziness of any of this year’s CES inventions, then you would have appreciated wearing the new cyclist’s airbag from Helite. The device, worn like a reflective cycling gilet or vest, inflates a series of airbags to protect the body in the event of an accident. Popping in just 1/100th of a second if you are knocked off your bike, the bags will be ready in place before you hit the ground.
Some of the ideas on show this year were truly groundbreaking tech that you know you’ll have in your home within a couple of years. Others were complete flights of fancy that you know will never get past the prototype stage. But whichever you’re looking for, the wacky or the wonderful, you can be sure that CES will never disappoint. Roll on the new ideas for CES 2021.