CES 2021: From Rollable Phones to Ice Cream Machines in the Office — Who Says You Can’t Have Fun During a Pandemic?
If you know anything about bb7 at all, you know that we’re a group of lovable nerds who love to geek out on the latest and greatest technology. Now, I can say that because I was called smart and nerdy well before it was cool (just ask my junior high self, teardrop).
All year long, every year, we at bb7 try to keep our finger on the pulse of technology.
As you might not be aware, we focus on consumer, medical/dental, and scientific and industrial market segments; so, in other words, pretty much everything. From wearables, to power management systems, to drug delivery devices, to disinfection, to everything in between, bb7 can do it.
CES lets us tinkerers and inventors feel like we are among our own in this world of new products, concepts, and prototypes that bend ideas of what can be actualized.
Here’s a not-so-in-depth summary of some highlights from CES this year:
We all knew a global pandemic would affect what we’d see at CES 2021, and that it did: Razer (a company focused on the needs of gamers) reimagined N95 masks with a more aesthetic approach; and bonus it’s got active ventilation and autosteriliztion. Pocketalk created translators for a Covid world. Airthings analyzes the spread of indoor viruses. Security and germ-elimination are on a nice mishmash with the touch less doorbell by Arlo.
Razer’s Project Hazel mask (Illustration by Holly Anne Burns)
Of course, there seems to be a larger collection of things you can do from home (since that’s where many of us are spending most of our days). I won’t go into detail on Satisfyer’s Love Triangle sex toy, but they went home with two innovators awards for connectivity and toys. Not all CES products are within hand’s reach (pun intended) of ordinary consumers, but this one is, at an economical $50.
It wouldn’t be CES without a sea of cutting-edge screens and wearables. The rollable phone was back this year and better than ever, most notably with LG and TCL in the headlines.
On a sweeter note, one of my favorite highlights of this year’s show is the ice cream maker for the office that everyone is talking about. ColdSnap is like Keurig but for “frozen confections and frozen beverages”. I hope you’re listening @Bob Schofield!
As for accessibility, one of my favorites this year is GoodMaps Explore from American Printing House for the Blind, giving everyone, visually impaired and not, a navigation application for both indoors and outdoors. Shoutout to our friend @Greg Stilson at APH.
Every parent who has been working from home while singlehandedly raising toddlers will be ogling the Samsung JetBot 90 AI+ robotic vacuum cleaner. With 3D sensors and AI monitoring, this isn’t your usual eliminator of dirt and dust.
Since my childhood visit to the Kohler showroom which gave me my first real taste of product showrooms and most likely influenced my path towards design, I’ve always had a minor obsession with all things Kohler (it didn’t hurt that I’m a Wisconsin girl and it is a Wisconsin-headquartered company). So, I was pleased to see the Kohler Stillness Bath that offers yet another experience for us weary, working-from-home-while-parenting-during-a-pandemic people. “Inspired by Japanese forest bathing, the Kohler Stillness Bath actually fills from the bottom, spilling out into a wooden moat, heightening the serene experience.” Seriously, sign me up right now. Husband, are you taking notes?
In the weird but true category
Let’s not forget last year’s Rollbot, rolled out by Charmin (a robot that could retrieve fresh rolls of TP when you run out)…strangely foreshadowing a year ahead when toilet paper would be hoarded and then in short demand as people panicked going into pandemic lock-down.
Toto, still in concept-stage, helps you determine the state of your health by analyzing your fecal matter and scanning your body when you take an, ahem, bio break, with its Wellness Toilet. I think we all know (but would rather not discuss with most people) that poop can tell you a lot about your health. Plus, there’s a companion app that recommends dietary changes to combat anything distressing you find in your previously mentioned analysis. Last year, Stanford University came out with the Smart Toilet which detects and tracks diseases, and has the added bonus of rear end recognition.
Toto’s Wellness Toilet (Illustration by Holly Anne Burns)
Many would say that one of the greatest issues facing the modern world is climate change. So, it’s a relief to see so many companies considering more sustainable design, from an array of energy / water-saving, and water-powered devices, to fully plant-based “digestible” products (now including milk), to Lasso, an appliance that recycles your recycling for you and guarantees the materials won’t end up in a landfill or the ocean.
There’s also a TV remote that’s solar powered. Say goodbye to constantly changing the batteries of your remote control. This idea is not new, but with Samsung leading the charge here’s hoping other big TV manufacturers soon follow suit. Any diversion of mercury disposal I appreciate, but according to Samsung, the switch should save roughly 99 million AAA batteries over the next seven years (depending on consumer use).
Autonomous vehicles have been in the works for years and each year their tech gets more advanced. While only a concept, GM’s Cadillac Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) vehicle gets GM into the air mobility game with this electric vehicle.
GM’s flying taxi (Illustration by Holly Anne Burns)
Thank you, CES 2021, for all you’ve added to innovation this year and for keeping us thinking ahead. Hopefully, next year we can experience it in person!