On the flight dwelling from Las Vegas in January 2020, I wrote a chunk for CNN Business about how the expertise of the long run paints a really lonely image for all of us. I had simply seen robots who name 911 once you fall down, mechanical companion cats that maintain you firm and “artificial humans” from startup Neon capable of do the identical.
Two months later, my New York neighborhood turned one of many first within the nation to enter lockdown; and it has been simply as lengthy since I’ve been capable of hug a few of the individuals I really like probably the most. A digital actuality journey to the Amalfi Coast with them could be a welcomed change to our routine FaceTime check-ins, not fairly the bizarre idea I believed it was only a 12 months in the past.
If loneliness was the unstated theme of CES 2020, this 12 months’s all-digital occasion was rife with anxiousness and stress, each the on a regular basis selection and the type particular to the present well being disaster. At the occasion, which befell on-line this week, there was the wearable for the ears that claims its mild vibrations regulate stress; the small sensible storage field with a fingerprint scanner to lock up your capsule provide or bank cards; the larger lock field that retains porch pirates from stealing your Amazon packages; a pad for the automotive seat that sends an alert in case you overlook your baby within the backseat; and the robotic that masses your dishwasher.
The robotic, Samsung’s Bot Handy, is barely in improvement for now, but it surely’s the corporate’s imaginative and prescient for “a better new normal,” as extra individuals work, cook dinner, eat and drown in dishes at dwelling than ever in the course of the international pandemic. As seen in a video, Bot Handy units the desk, pours wine and reminds you of upcoming conferences.
“The technologies in your home need to work harder to help you adjust to this new normal,” the corporate mentioned in its session description on the CES web site.
And then there have been the masks. There was one with built-in earbuds and microphones to make calls, and one other to observe air high quality. AirPop Active+ Smart Mask displays and filters the air round you, blocking mud, allergens and microbial particles. It lets you recognize once you want a brand new filter and tracks your respiration with its sensors.
Perhaps the harrowing takeaway from CES this 12 months is that we’re not okay, however possibly expertise can assist.
Executives and thought leaders met just about to supply options to the challenges many industries presently face. A session on the way forward for contactless funds, with an outline on the web site that led with “The less you touch, the safer you’ll be,” mentioned how retailers can experience the momentum of the booming pattern far previous the pandemic. Another on the challenges of distant studying debated what’s subsequent for future lecture rooms, and whether or not sure tech instruments may make telemedicine visits extra significant.
“We live in a time when most of the things we once took for granted now seem like distant memories,” mentioned Brian Kwon, CEO of LG Electronics, in a video forward of the corporate’s presentation. “Life has changed in so many unexpected ways. While our approach to life may be different now, we persevere.”
Not precisely the upbeat speech you usually count on to listen to at a product launch.
Apple, which regularly makes headlines at CES with out really attending, used this week to disclose extra particulars about its $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative. Launched in June following the information and protests across the demise of George Floyd, the corporate introduced the place extra of its funds will go to assist handle systemic racism and create extra alternatives for communities of shade.
CES 2021 nonetheless had its share of enjoyable innovation: the rollable cellphone, the clear TV, Cadillac’s self-driving occasion bus idea, to call just a few. But the tech that resonated most mirrored our present bleak world, at a time when many people are attempting to only get by way of the day.
The self-driving occasion bus will likely be a wonderful method to have fun the tip of the pandemic at any time when that point lastly comes, however for now, all I really need is that Keurig-like machine for soft-serve ice cream to appease my soul whereas I wait issues out at dwelling.