Our Top Picks from CES 2020

CES 2020

The 2020 Consumer Entertainment Show (CES) has just concluded its three day showcase in Las Vegas with over 4,400 tech companies showing off their latest innovations. CES serves as a proving ground for breakthrough technologies and allows visitors to directly interact with new cutting edge devices. The show featured everything from robo-pets all the way to a plant-based pork replacement, smart toothbrushes, foldable computers, and even a 292-inch HD television. A noticeable trend at this year’s expo was the prominence of accessibility technology and how both hardware and software tools can be used to improve lives. We’ve waded into the massive list of tech on display and selected a handful of the most interesting devices for you to check out.

Samsung Bot Chef

One of the most fascinating displays at CES was Samsung’s kitchen-based Bot Chef. This set of robotic arms was able to open and rummage through cabinets, select ingredients, mix them in a pan, and prepare a chopped tofu salad almost entirely on its own. It even did its pouring calculations for the dressing on the fly without needing a measuring cup. Each arm operated independently, tackling two tasks at once while a nearby screen walked the cook through the recipe step by step with visual and audio cues. The display was slightly limited as CES has a strict ‘no open flame’ policy, so the bot was reserved to sautéing a block of tofu in a cold pan for show. From the intricacies of its movements, it is pretty clear that the robot wouldn’t have much trouble sautéing meats and veggies in a real kitchen. 

All of this is voice-controlled and run by an AI which uses computer vision algorithms to ‘see’ where things are in your kitchen. At the time of the display, the robot was programmed with 35 different salad recipes that it could make on demand. In one of the most interesting moments of the showcase, the assistant asked the Bot Chef to make him a cup of coffee. When the Bot responded that it didn’t know how, the assistant told it to download that skill. Moments later one robotic arm was brewing a pot of coffee on a traditional (non-smart) coffee machine while the other was cubing a slab of tofu for the salad. Using simple voice commands or through the on-screen interface, users can have the Bot Chef download and learn all kinds of new recipes and cooking skills. This grants a new level of accessibility for people in the kitchen and can help improve lives by both taking the menial tasks out of cooking and allowing people to be more self-reliant.  

There’s no price tag on this just yet, however Samsung claims it will be reasonable and accessible. “In order for this technology to really make an impact in our everyday lives, it needs to be affordable,” claimed a Samsung spokesperson. The bot won’t be made for heavy lifting and will feature custom electronics that will “help their price tag read more like a kitchen appliance than a luxury car.”

Monster Multilink Bluetooth Technology

Monster introduced what it claims to be the next step in Bluetooth technology during last week’s expo. The Multilink technology seeks to make Bluetooth audio a shareable and social experience by allowing multiple people to sync to a single source. This software would allow users to sync and share music or watch movies together with friends in a public space without bothering anyone. Multilink opens up several new possibilities for the use of Bluetooth such as fitness classes, family trips, air-travel and more. Via their Multi Share app, users can designate multiple sets of local headphones to receive the audio from their device. This is a small and straightforward improvement upon Bluetooth technology that could easily see widespread implementation across a variety of social situations.

EnvisionBody Augmented Reality Software

EnvisionBody, a small Florida-based startup debuted their new augmented reality software at this year’s expo. Their goal is to motivate people to exercise and promote healthy living by letting users view “enhanced” versions of themselves in real-time video. By analyzing a snapshot of the user, the AR software runs it through a series of algorithms and presents a leaner or more muscular version of yourself. Essentially, it is supposed to function as a form of positive reinforcement that shows the user what they could look like with a dedicated exercise regimen. While the jury is still out on whether or not this will actually encourage people to work out more, I could easily see this type of technology quickly being adopted by cosmetic surgeons, weight loss clinics, fitness centers, or any business that would benefit from showing clients a ‘before’ and ‘after’ image.

Procter & Gamble Opte

P&G Ventures’ Opte made a return to this year’s CES with style. The Opte is a small handheld makeup application device outfitted with an array of sensors and cameras. It detects the user’s natural skin tone as well as finding any blemishes by taking 200 pictures per second and running them through 70,000 lines of code to determine the size, shape, and color of each individual skin spot. Once identified, the Opte uses 120 inkjet nozzles thinner than a human hair to deposit a minute amount of skin colored serum directly on the blemish without affecting the rest of their skin. Due to the precise targeting, it uses 99% less makeup than traditional application methods and claims to moisturize the skin while permanently fading blemishes over time. Procter & Gamble expects the Opte to ship by summer of 2020.

The OrCam Hear

Continuing the noticeable trend of accessibility devices presented at this year’s CES, the Israeli-based OrCam showed off its new Hear device. The Hear is about the size of a thumb and is worn like a necklace. It syncs to any Bluetooth-enabled set of hearing aids and uses a small camera and suite of software to scan your environment, identify a specific speaker, and isolate their audio; allowing the hearing-impaired user to carry on a conversation with a targeted person in loud and crowded environments such as cocktail parties or restaurants. Traditional hearing aids pick up all ambient noise which can be overwhelming or distracting; but by simply facing the person you’d like to talk to, the Hear will run a quick scan of all the audio data it receives while matching it to the movement of the speaker’s mouth. Once the Hear matches the audio to the speaking person’s lips, it is able to filter out all other unnecessary noise and allows for easier and more natural conversations. All of these audio isolation algorithms run on the fly, allowing for fluid and dynamic conversations with multiple people at a time.

CareOS Poseidon

CareOS left the expo as a CES Innovation Award Honoree after presenting its new Poseidon smart mirror. While IoT smart mirrors already exist in a more rudimentary form, CareOS has really taken the concept to the next level. The Poseidon comes fully equipped with the new CareOS software platform that supports features like virtual try-on for hair and makeup styles, tutorials, skin analysis, hygiene gamification for kids, a magnifier for easy shaving or makeup application, posture analysis with movement tracking, and even vision tests. It creates profiles for each member of the family with facial recognition software and connects to the virtual assistant or health app on your phone to display information and track activity levels. If you own a smart thermostat you can even adjust the temperature from the bathroom. The amount of features packed into this mirror is hard to believe, and it is also fully customizable with options for size, orientation, lighting, and color.

HomeFit Augmented Reality

The Innovation Labs at AARP have developed and showcased an augmented reality app for smartphones designed to help make seniors’ homes and living spaces more safe and accessible. The HomeFit app uses the phone’s camera to scan any room and offer safety and mobility improvements to turn their house into a “lifelong home”. Some examples of suggested home improvements are things like adding non-slip mats or carpeting on exposed stairs, moving over-the-range microwaves to the countertop, or replacing door and cabinet handles with easy to grasp knobs. As the app scans and makes these suggestions it filters them into either a ‘do it yourself’ list that can be checked off as you complete them, or a ‘leave it to the pros’ list for tackling the bigger and more difficult tasks. This is quite the clever implementation of AR software that has the potential to save lives. 

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