'Tis the season. The CES season, that is. CES 2021 is jam-packed with exciting new technology. This week's completely digital event saw presentations from leading tech industry experts, thought leaders, influencers, and entrepreneurs. Things were obviously different this year, as the world continues to battle the current pandemic. Rather than have thousands of people flock to Las Vegas for in-person presentations and tech booths, this year was dominated by virtual press conferences.
CES 2021: The Future is Now
This year's tech show reflected a lot of the current challenges in the world. Nonetheless, CES had plenty to offer. "Tech for the coronavirus era" was a big theme this year. From highly coveted consumer products to out of this world robotic concepts, CES's virtual format was no less exciting than previous years.
If you have not figured it out already, CES, or the Consumer Electronics Show, is one of the tech world's biggest shows.
For the uninitiated, CES is a launching pad for breakthrough technologies and global innovators. As described by the CES team, "This is where the world's biggest brands do business and meet new partners, and the sharpest innovators hit the stage."
Each year, the tech event seems to find a way to outdo itself. Last year saw foldable smart devices, alien-looking concept cars, updates on highly anticipated electric vehicles, new bars for computing power, and AI-powered tech that confirmed that we are living in the future.
So, what did the innovators bring to the digital stage this year? Here are some of the most futuristic technologies from CES 2021.
1. Samsung's Digital Cockpit is going to change the future autonomous car into a gaming hub, an entertainment hub, and a concert hall
Driverless vehicles have been a reoccurring theme at CES for the past couple of years. When and if cars become fully-autonomous, the interior of our vehicles could also change, evolving into something that looks closer to a living-room on wheels. Samsung's Digital Cockpit 2021 is the answer to the company's question, ‘How far can we take the autonomous vehicle cockpit?’.
Designed for future autonomous vehicles, the cockpit is packed with a range of experiences created to keep passengers entertained on long, driverless trips. The heart of the concept cockpit is the company's 49-inch QLED display, with its immersive sound system. Scattered through the cockpit, there will also be a wide range of screens designed to maximize productivity and entertainment options.
The screens are packed with tools that allow users to video conference, game, edit video clips, and binge their latest tv shows. The screens can also be used to display a range of information, including passenger's health, using Samsung's new service — Automotive Samsung Health.
This futuristic technology is capable of analyzing an individual's health and stress levels while on the go, and adjusting the vehicle’s lighting, scent, or music in an effort to help the passengers relax. It can even track your sleep, wake you up just before you arrive at your destination. On the exterior of the vehicle, you will find a front-mounted display that communicates with other vehicles and pedestrians to ensure their safety. This is a glimpse at what the future of autonomous vehicles could bring.
2. Autonomous race cars are going to change the sport
AI powered-autonomous racing leagues are starting to pop up around the world, albeit using smaller models, rather than full-scale vehicles. It makes sense, as we inch closer to the age of the fully-autonomous vehicle, that these leagues could someday expand to include full-scale Formula 1 cars. Why not turn it into a sport? The Indy Autonomous Challenge plans is a $1.5 million university prize competition that plans to race autonomous vehicles head-to-head later on this year.
During CES 2021, Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) officially debuted the official race car to be used at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), the Dallara-produced IL-15.
According to the IAC, the IL-5 is one of the most advanced, fastest, autonomous vehicles ever created. Since 2001, Dallara has been the sole supplier of the Indy Lights series, a championship whose main goal is to prepare drivers for the NTT IndyCar Series.
For the IAC, the vehicle has been retrofitted with hardware and controls to enable automation.
The Dallara IL-15 is a collaboration between Dallara’s Italian headquarters in Varano Melegari (Parma) and Dallara IndyCar Factory in Speedway, Indiana. It is slated to compete on October 23, 2021; the expected start of the IAC season. Would you watch autonomous vehicles?
3. LG is leading the television market into the future
The CES is always crowded with new televisions. However, on occasion, companies try to rethink the way we watch our favorite shows and experience media. LG did that this year, creating two of the screens that caught CES attendees' attention.
Let's talk about their first one, the new 55-inch OLED Transparent TV. As the name implies, the LG display is transparent, allowing you to see through it even when it is turned on and displaying an image. Designed to be comfortably situated at the end of your bed, the LG TV can fully or partially hide itself by descending into its hub, all with just a push of a button.
Compared to other previous iterations of transparent TVs that might be 10% transparent, this LG TV is 40% transparent. Aside from the home, LG imagines using this transparent screen technology in stores, shopping malls, architectural interiors, autonomous vehicles, subway trains, and aircraft.
4. And, LG's active bending screen will make your future gaming experience even more immersive
The second screen to be debuted was LG's 48-inch OLED gaming TV that can bend from a flat display to a curved one. The premise around the screen is simple. While watching television, the screen is flat. However, if you are interested in gaming, the screen can be quickly adjusted and bend up to a radius of 1,000mm with a decent variable refresh rate of 40Hz to 120Hz. The way the screen transforms is hypnotizing.
5. The Reachy app allows people to control humanoid robots from anywhere in the world
Companies like Pollen Robotics want to bring us further into an automated future by accelerating the robotics and artificial intelligence revolution. They are doing this by offering researchers and businesses accessible tools for robotics R&D.
Using their Reachy app, people can control the actions of a humanoid robot from wherever they are in the world. From your home office, you could remotely operate a robot via virtual reality to complete complex tasks. Futuristic technology like this will make application development even easier.
6. Samsung's "Bot Handy" is very reminiscent of The Jetsons
Robots are making their way into our home, changing the way we communicate with loved ones, how we entertain ourselves, and can even control the smart devices in our home. The inclusion of more intelligent machines and IoT devices in our homes is going to further accelerate this robotic adoption.
Samsung showed us what that future may look like. Though Jetbot90AI+ with LiDAR detectors is an impressive smart vacuum cleaner, Bot Handy stole the show during the presentation. Think of Handy as an "extension of you' and your family.
The intelligent machine relies on advanced AI to recognize and manipulate objects of varying sizes, shapes, and weights. Handy can pick up laundry, load the dishwasher, set the table, and even pour you a glass of wine. The home robot is smart enough to recognize the difference between the material composition of various objects, utilizing the appropriate amount of force to grab and move around household items and objects.
Handy is part of Samsung's growing line of robots designed to help around the house.
7. Samsung has created a robotic assistant to keep you on schedule
It might have crossed your mind at some point that you need an assistant. Why not get a robotic one? If Handy is helping you with your chores, Samsung's Bot Care is here to help you organize your life. Bot Care is designed to recognize and respond to your behavior and emotions.
The robot acts as both a robotic assistant and companion, scheduling appointments, helping you video call colleagues as you work from home, build better habits, and guide you throughout your day.
8. It doesn't get more science fiction than TCL's scrollable display
This one is still just a concept. Nonetheless, this futuristic-looking technology may not be too far off. The Chinese company TCL technology turned heads during its presentation when it unveiled its scrollable display concept. The 17-inch scrolling tablet display was eye-popping, to say the least.
The scrolling display uses injected printing technology to create a device that unfurls like a paper map, creating an entirely new user experience. The display would be printed on an OLED panel that is just 0.18mm thick. While creating a flexible screen is absolutely possible, as we have seen from previous CES events and products, getting a functional device to fit into this unique form is an entirely different proposition and will take some work to fully develop. However, it still is an impressive concept.
9. TCL's rolling phone was also magical
TCL definitely kept the ball rolling during their CES presentation. LG is not the only company experimenting with rollable smart devices. TCL showcased their rolling phone concept, a device that can transform from a 6.7-inch phone to a 7.8-inch tablet with "a simple tap of the finger. The concept is officially dubbed the AMOLED Rollable Display smartphone, with AMOLED standing for Active Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode. Would you ever use a rollable phone?
It wouldn't be CES without TCL showing off some future tech concepts! This is the AMOLED Rollable Display: It can extend from 6.7" to 7.8" with a tap of the finger. #CES2021 @TCL_USA @TCLMobileGlobal pic.twitter.com/Gtxihs7eDD— Brad Molen (@phonewisdom) January 11, 2021
10. GM showcased the possibilities and probabilities of future modes of transportation
General Motors made it clear during its CES presentation that it wanted to take the beloved luxury and personality of its existing Cadillac brand and extend this into the future. The automotive company showed off its Halo self-driving car concept during its virtual keynote. The radically-overhauled design attempts to seamlessly merges comfort and style into an autonomous vehicle.
The pod car would rival most living rooms for comfort, and would include amenities like a wrap-around couch, large windows, biometric sensors to read passengers' vital signs, as well as full control over the scent, humidity, and lighting in the Halo pod. Though Cadillac, has two EVs on the way, the Lyriq, and Celestiq, we would love to see the automaker create the Halo sooner than later.
11. GM also imagined its first futuristic VTOL.
GM wants to create an EV that you will fall in love with in the coming years. Will their VTOL the one? Alongside their autonomous pod Cadillac, the company also presented a VTOL, for when you want to skip the traffic.
This aerial vehicle is completely electric and features a 90kW battery allowing it to travel rooftop to rooftop at up to 56 mph (90 kph). The vehicle is another example of how GM plans to streamline its design DNA into the future.
12. This futuristic mask will make you feel like Bane from Batman
This year, LG unveiled its latest iteration of the company's futuristic PuriCare masks, but Razer's offering is even sleeker. A name usually synonymous with powerful gaming computers, Razer recently announced its Project Hazel concept design. These N95 face masks offer to make wearing face mask superhero-level cool.
Razer's chargeable silicone masks have active ventilation and autosterilization. They also come with a separate case that can be used to charge the mask wirelessly, and includes a UV sterilizer. If Razer ever begins production of the mask, we are sure the gamer crowd will be the first in line to get one.
13. LG is continuing to explore futuristic mobile phones
This new phone could be making its way to stores later this year. Not much is known about the device, but during its keynote, LG teased audiences with a brief demonstration of the device. From what we saw at CES, once your mobile phone is turned to landscape mode, the mobile device "rolls" forward, expanding the screen, very similar to the way the company's rollable OLED televisions work.
14. Smart glasses are trying to change the way you work from home and in the office
Augmented reality glasses have had a very slow start, but are beginning to transition from a novelty to a functional tool. This year, Lenovo unveiled its ThinkReality A3 augmented reality glasses. Designed for use at worker, these glasses are expected to go on sale sometime in mid-2021. The 1080p display on the AR glasses is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 chip. The AR tech can be used to create virtual monitors, view 3D objects, and for immersive training. The glasses will come in two varieties, a "PC Edition" and an "Industrial Edition", with the industrial version being much more durable.
15. This next-gen gaming chair looks a lot like something out of Minority Report
Razer' Project Brooklyn is the ultimate gaming command center. The concept could feature a 180-degree transparent OLED screen, left and right pull-out trays that can be set at different heights, and haptic vibration via Razer HyperSense modules on the carbon-fiber and leather bucket seat. Imagine playing Cyberpunk 2077 on this set-up. What is more futuristic?
16. Robotic dogs are making their way into our homes.
Man's next best friend will probably be a robot, or at least that is what the minds at Koda would have you believe. Sharing some design cues with the Boston Dynamics Robot Dog, the Koda dog has been dubbed "The World's First Decentralized AI Dog." According to Koda, their robot is designed to be social, unlike other popular robotic dogs currently on the market. Koda's blockchain-enabled decentralized AI infrastructure allows the robot dog to serve a multitude of purposes.
The robot can be a family companion, an eye seeing dog, or an ever-vigilant guard dog. It can even be used as a powerful supercomputer capable of helping science solve some of its most complex problems. Koda's dog learns about its owner and grows to become the perfect companion. Would you get a robotic dog for your home?
17. Your music experience will be much more personalized.
SoundID is an app that delivers personalized sound experiences regardless of the headphones that you are using. It optimizes your music so that you have the best possible experience with the listening device that you currently have available. It does this through headphone calibration, individual hearing, and personal preference for sound.
18. AI emotional support in a furry form-factor that you can snuggle.
It would not be CES without cute robots. This year had a handful of adorable, intelligent machines. However, Moflin takes the cake. The AI pet robot looks like a giant fur-ball come to life, and that is why we like it. This fluffy robot comes with emotional capabilities and the ability to learn. The perfect pet for those of you reserved to your homes, Moflin is a robot with a wide range of emotions that reacts to your daily interactions.
It is even smart enough to tell when different people are interacting with it and respond distinctly with a range of sounds and movements. When not sitting at home cuddling with you, Moflin rests/charges itself in its egg-shaped wireless charging "nest" and will even twitch and murmur as it rests and revitalizes. If your Moflin gets dirty, you can remove its fur and wash it.
19. Airthings can monitor if you are at risk of a virus.
As we mentioned before, the pandemic shaped much of the innovation from this past year. Airthings is one of those consumer innovations. Their at-home or office wall sensors can analyze rooms for virus risk. They do not specifically detect the virus; they look at a wide series of factors using AI like monitoring temperature, humidity, and the number of people in a room to assess risk.
20. We need to save the bees to help ensure our future.
Beeing's B-Box allows you to be a beekeeper in your backyard. It is the first-ever hive designed for a home that is simple to use. You can even use it in the city with a small balcony. Currently available on Indiegogo B-box features a unique honey harvesting system, a bee chimney, and a modular honeycomb. Using the company's BeeSecure device, you can track the health of the swarm, providing a snapshot of the temperature and humidity of your beehive.
21. Showering with a great sound system will be much more enjoyable in the future.
In the future, you are still going to want to sing in the shower. Shower Power is going to keep that tradition alive. The hydropower Bluetooth speaker is made from recycled ocean plastic. Using a hydroelectric generator, it produces 100% of its power from water, storing that energy in its 2,500 mAh battery. The shower music won't stop.
22. The Blanc Robot is bringing autonomy to the commercial side of transportation.
The future of mobility was a big theme throughout CES 2021. Autonomy continues to change the way we travel, network, and deliver goods. The Blanc Robot could be doing some of the heavy lifting in 2021. At first glance, The Blanc Robot platform looks like the undercarriage of a car. They have built an exceptional drive-by-wire vehicle platform that is Level 5 autonomous ready and can be configured with software for multiple uses. The platform has a wide range of applications.
23. Massage chairs in the future will be extremely smart.
Bodyfriend is a friend of your body. This is not just any massage chair. This futuristic massage chair provides lucky users with a wide range of impressive features. These features include AI voice recognition, healthcare monitoring, and tracking based on the individual and a sleek design that would make Dr. Xavier jealous.
24. Recycling in the future is going to be much easier.
Lasso will recycle your recycling. According to the Lasso team, their smart device is the first closed-loop domestic recycling appliance; recycling made easy. You feed Lasso your standard recyclables like plastic, glass, and metal. Lasso steam cleans your recyclables, sorts them, and quietly grinds them before depositing them into their respectable areas of storage. All your daily recycling is tracked through the Lasso app. You can pre-order Lasso now.
25. Disinfection robots really are the future.
Amid the pandemic, disinfection robots have appeared all over the world, accelerating their adoption. Regardless of the pandemic, they will be a part of our future. The Unipin's Ultraviolet Disinfection robot is an excellent example of a futuristic disinfection system. The robot operates autonomously. It uses light to clean surfaces of harmful bacteria and viruses. Unipin's Air Purifier Robot can also move autonomously and remove pathogens from the air.
26. Are you ready player one?
Start-ups are working hard to make virtual reality technology even more immersive. The Tactsuit X40 could help us get there. The wireless haptic vest features an unprecedented 40 individually controllable vibrotactile motors. What does this mean? While gaming, you will feel every punch, shot, and explosion.
The X40 promises to provide haptic feedback to every corner of your body. The TactSuit can be used on a wide range of platforms, including PC, VR, and even on your console. Technology like this will help inspire a new range of VR tech-based games.
What do you think of CES 2021? Are there any exciting technologies that we missed? Which one of the presentations was your favorite? Here are some of our favorite quotes from CES 2021.
There are a lot of fascinating technologies on display at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, and this article will be updated throughout the week as more new tech is presented.