CES 2021: Pandemic-Inspired Tech

Photo credit to Razer.

This isn’t your everyday trade show. For the first time in its 51-year history, CES 2021 — the world’s biggest annual consumer electronics show — was held entirely online. 

It’s a welcome relief for many attendees, particularly in the wake of a pandemic that’s turned even 5-Second Rule people into germaphobes. “We talk about CES as a petri dish,” says Carolina Milanesi, a technology analyst and founder of the market research firm The Heart of Tech. “You touch a lot of stuff all the time. Catching the flu at CES is something we always do, every year.” Yet, CES is already expecting to return to the Las Vegas Convention Center for 2022. 

Attendees, by contrast, may not feel so eager about jumping back in the “petri dish”; alongside a wave of new 8K TVs, 5G smartphones, and rollable tablets, CES 2021 unveiled some incredible pandemic-inspired innovations that are sure to get you (at least a little!) excited about wearing masks, working from home, and of course, the dreaded “new normal”.  

LG Display 55-inch Transparent OLED Smart Bed

Level up your bedtime TV binges with the Smart Bed (it’s not actually a bed, but an end unit with a transparent display that slides out). The display can achieve multiple aspect ratios and sizes, and thanks to a subtle cutout, can display date/time or music playback options even when fully enclosed. Though the concept isn’t yet available for purchase, LG has already started dreaming up demos of a similar transparent screen being implemented in restaurants and subways. This would allow passengers to enjoy views while accessing maps, menus, and other information on the screen. 

Razer “Project Hazel” Masks

You’ve probably heard of Razer’s gaming hardware, but here’s something all-new: COVID-19 smart masks. These masks feature customizable lights on each ventilator, N95-medical grade respirators, and special Smart Pods designed to filter and regulate airflow. Though Razer has not yet communicated details on pricing or launch dates, get excited, gamers. You can finally take that beloved RGB-lighting from your keyboards and put it right on your face. 

LG COVID-19 Robot

Thanks to LG’s new COVID-19-killing robot, we may soon have a safer outside world. This robot autonomously navigates any space, disinfecting high-touch and high-traffic areas with UV-C light rays as it moves. Motion detection sensors will also prevent exposing nearby humans to its rays. LG says the robot will be able to “move easily around tables, chairs, and other furniture, generally irradiating a room’s touchable surfaces in 15 to 30 minutes, disinfecting multiple areas on a single battery charge.” Expect to hear more about these bots soon, as LG plans to launch them in the US in early-2021. 

CareClever Cutii 

Founded in 2015, CareClever has received widespread acclaim for its groundbreaking work in robotics and automation (including the 2017 CES Innovation Award!) This year, CareClever debuted the Cutii, an autonomous mobile robot developed with isolated seniors in mind. “This is definitely not a technology looking for a solution,” says CEO Antoine Bataille. “It was developed in the homes of those who need it most — the elderly. We will add years of happiness to thousands of people around the world.” Cutii uses AI to learn user behaviours and preferences, facilitating interactions with its wide offering of activities: cooking and yoga classes, museum tours, fun quizzes, and more! Loved ones can communicate with seniors by video, voice, or message via Cutii, and even ask the bot to move to users in their homes. The Cutii is available through a subscription model starting at $100/month.

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