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The Best of CES Highlights by Sam Colley

At Pod we love going to CES. It’s a strange, fascinating, eye-opening glance at some of the most idiosyncratic visions of the future. No matter who from the Pod team goes to CES they always come back energized and full of stories of the amazing new tech they’ve seen.

Here we’ve gathered some of the most interesting gadgets, ideas, and developments we’ve seen at CES over the past few years.

The best of CES in 2019

exercise desks

Once again CES has proved to be an eye-opening experience. With more than 4,500 exhibiting companies and exhibit space of more than 2.9 million net square feet showcasing the newest innovations in the consumer technology world, there’s always plenty to get excited about. When we weren’t meeting with partners and exciting new leads we were roaming the hall, open-mouthed at what we were seeing. Here’s our roundup of seven of the most inventive, exciting and sometimes downright strange technologies that we spotted at CES in 2019.

The Green One

We were excited to learn about Urban Canopee at CES. Urban Canopee’s aim is to make cities more resilient to climate change and more pleasant places to live. By growing climbing plants over lightweight, flexible and modular frames Urban Canopee combats heat islands, fights air pollution, and increases urban biodiversity.

5G, AI, and connected sensors allowed Urban Canopee to develop and implement an irrigation algorithm with distance monitoring. Their kits include sensors which monitor hydration levels and an intelligent connected irrigation system that runs on solar power.

With 68% of the world’s population predicted to live in urban areas by 2050 this has the potential to improve the lives of billions of urban dwellers.

CES 2019

The One Everyone’s Talking About

One of the most visually impressive demonstrations came from LG when they unveiled their new television. A TV? It doesn’t sound too impressive at first. But this one emerges from a long box where, when not in use, it stays rolled up inside. It allows owners to tuck their television out of sight when not in use.

The television uses plastic and OLED technology, which is capable of bending. Flexible, bendable screens for use on smartphones and laptops have long been a dream for many people. Now, it seems that we are finally beginning to see this technology being realized. There are high hopes for foldable, rollable smartphones in the not too distant future.

LG have yet to release a price for the television. It will go on sale in around March and estimations are that it will cost upwards of $8,000.

The Communicative One

Google’s path to world domination continues with the unveiling of its interpreter. Using its ever-improving AI translation capabilities you can now say, “Hello Google, be my Spanish interpreter,” and then hold a conversation with someone with whom you have no common language.

The process isn’t entirely natural. You speak, then wait while your words are translated, they will be shown in text in the other language, next it’s the turn of your companion to speak while you wait for their contribution to be translated into your language. It may be a little slow but it’s certainly quicker than learning to speak Czech or Korean!

This feature could transform the tourism industry. The translation device currently works in 27 languages and Google will be trialing it at concierge desks in Las Vegas, New York, and San Francisco. Currently, it is only available on the Google Home Hub, Google Home speakers, and third-party Google Assistant displays. Once the feature makes the jump onto smartphones it will truly revolutionize the travel experience.

The One for Parents

South Korean company Monit have invented a small sensor which attaches to the outside of a diaper. It detects when the diaper needs changing and alerts the caregiver. They hope that this can reduce instances of diaper rash and urinary tract infections.

This smart diaper sensor could certainly make life easier for busy parents and caregivers.

The Wearable One

L’Oréal-owned skin-care brand La Roche-Posay launched a wearable sensor that tracks skin pH levels. The pH scale goes from 1 to 14 and is a measure of how acidic or alkaline something is. Below 7 is acidic, 7 is neutral, and above 7 is alkaline. The ideal pH level for your skin is 5.5. If your skin’s pH level is higher or lower than 5.5 it creates an unhealthy environment that fosters harmful bacteria. This can lead to skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, and acne.

Previously the only way to test your skin’s pH levels was to collect your sweat and then use a litmus strip. This sensor is an easy way for consumers to test the pH level of their skin. Simply place it on your inner arm and leave it there for 5 to 15 minutes, until the two dots in the center change color. Next, open the My Skin Track pH app and take a photo of the sensor. The app will assess your overall skin health and give you La Roche-Posay product recommendations to help balance your skin’s pH level.

Healthcare and beauty are already becoming more personalized and this trend is only going to accelerate. Customers now expect products and advice tailored to their particular needs. Wearable beauty products like this are sure to be popular.

The Bizarre One

The Pod team at CES

Do you hate folding laundry? Foldimate, the laundry folding machine shown at CES, can help make this household chore a thing of the past. Or at least it can if you want to fold collared shirts, pants, and medium-sized towels. If you want to fold outsize items like bedsheets or small ones like baby clothes you’re on your own.

There’s no availability or price announced yet for Foldimate but the company is trying to keep the machine under $1,000. For that price you’d have to really hate folding laundry.

The Time Saving One?

Have you ever felt like the dentist-recommended two minutes brushing your teeth is too much of a commitment? With the Y-brush (so called because it is shaped like a Y, it resembles a sports mouthguard) you can clean your teeth in just 10 seconds. If you clean your teeth twice a day (as is recommended) then you could save three minutes and forty seconds every day.

It might not sound like much but this toothbrush could be a boon for parents who struggle to get their children to brush properly. It could also assist people who find fine motor tasks challenging.

As usual, CES was a beguiling mix of the forward-thinking, the life-changing, and the downright bizarre. We saw robot pets, a car that can stand up and walk on four legs, a robotic glove to help people who suffer from hand paralysis, and a machine that supplies you with freshly baked bread. All this combined with our busy booth and meetings with customers and partners made it a fascinating and varied experience and we’re already looking forward to CES 2020. See you next year!

The Pod team

The best from CES in 2018.

Each year at CES the tech world is introduced to a whole host of gadgets large and small, critical and kitsch, flashy and functional, and nerds everywhere start writing their letters to Santa. When we haven’t been meeting with partners and exciting new leads, or trying to build our stand between the three of us (read: how many IoT experts to change a lightbulb), we also managed to narrow down our pick of the five most influential technologies coming in 2018 and beyond.

Toyota E-Palette

Toyota unveiled a new take on the “mobility” concept at CES on Monday.

The ‘e-Palette’ is an electric, self-driving vehicle that will be a combination deli, pizza delivery, retail shop and ride-hailing service. Amazon, DiDi, Mazda, Pizza Hut and Uber have all signed on as partners already, giving us some great visions of ordering a pizza and a taxi home at the same time.

Company president Akio Toyoda called the e-Palette ‘a platform that will be the backbone for mobility-as-a-service, for autonomy, for car-sharing, for any number of services that we want to make possible, and quite frankly we can’t wait to see what Toyota brings to the fiercely competitive autonomous vehicle arena. In Toyoda’s words: ‘Today you have to travel to the store. In the future, the store will travel to you.’

MyLiFi Lamp

MyLiFi from French company Oledcomm is a lamp that uses Li-Fi, a fairly new concept that uses the power of LEDs – yes you read that right – to transfer data between the bulb and a dongle attachment. The MyLiFi lamp beams a wireless, radiowave-free internet connection to nearby devices, and promises to provide faster speeds than Wi-Fi. It’s also pretty much unhackable, unless the intruder is right next to the actual light bulb.

This kind of technology is fascinating to see, and could be ideal for applications that need a radio-wave free signal, like hospitals, and those mission-critical applications that need extreme security with a fast and stable connection.

Arable Mark

The Arable Mark is an out-of-the-box device packed with solar panels and sensors and machine learning, that can tell a farmer pretty much anything useful about their crops.

An acoustic sensor measures the volume of rain, sensors facing the sky and the ground can measure light levels, and check when nearby crops are healthy or ready to harvest by the color of their leaves.

These sensors create a powerful tool to avoid damage or stop it before it gets worse, but they are not the crown jewel of the Arable Mark, newly introduced point forecasting. After a while in one spot, the sensors on the device use their own data alongside public forecasts, and the Mark uses machine learning algorithms to map out the microclimate of its area with surprising detail.

The implications of this kind of device for connected agriculture and beyond are intriguing, from commercial farming operations producing better produce and higher yields, to using point forecasting to improve climate data in countries that suffer from drought and severe weather, to help farming at a local and continental scale.

Xenoma e-Skin Pajamas

This years show saw more connected healthcare products than ever before, and there was a clear emphasis on products that help out ever-worsening sleep habits, not to mention the next generation of fitness trackers, but what caught our eye was much less flashy, and has a much wider application.

Xenoma e-Skin pajamas represent the pinnacle of fabric sensor technology, with motion sensors in the legs of the pants, and a full suite of vital signs monitoring such as heart rate and breathing in the shirt, including ports for an ECG in the sternum should it be needed.

This technology has the noble aim of allowing dementia patients to have their independence without posing a risk to themselves, as being bed-bound can be confusing and distressing for patients and incredibly care-intensive for medical practitioners.

These connected clothes again promise great things for connected health, and paint a picture of fully integrated hospitals that collect data at every stage and remove the need for invasive testing all-together, particularly useful in patients with chronic conditions, and those with debilitating mental conditions that can really suffer from a simple check-up.

Matrix Thermo-Couple Battery

You might have heard of Matrix watches, that power themselves using a thermocouple battery which harvests the heat from your wrist. Their latest product, the Powerwatch X, is no different, but now includes smartwatch notifications via a bluetooth connection – an impressive amount of oomph from such a notoriously weak power source.

It seems Matrix is fairly clued up on emerging connectivity technologies however, and has created an Energy Harvesting Sensor Beacon that would effectively mean the huge amount of IoT devices that need very low power supply would never have to replace their batteries.

This has massive implications for connected industry, and could give groundbreaking network technologies struggling to remain relevant a much-needed boost to their viability. The company won’t be ready to begin manufacturing until halfway into 2018, and there’s no word yet on how much it’ll cost, but we are sure that the price of this technology will shrink dramatically as demand skyrockets – those of you waiting for a reason to adopt LPWAN, watch this space.

Find Out Which Other Events We’ll Be Attending.

Sam Colley

Pod Group CEO

An expert in telecoms, Sam drives growth through the development and implementation of a global sales strategy, targeting key high potential markets, particularly in the USA.

Posted: January 15, 2019