ISABEL RUBIO ARROYO | Tungsteno
Stepping into CES, the world's largest consumer electronics show, is like entering the future. At this must-attend event for the tech industry, which took place in early January 2023 in the hotels and convention centres of Las Vegas, you can see it all: robots that make cocktails, wireless TVs, airbag belts that cushion the impact of falls and prevent fractures, and even helmets that scan brain activity. Let’s take a look at the tech trends and gadgets that have attracted the most attention at this year’s show.
Flying cars with retractable wings
With around 300 vehicle technology exhibitors, CES is also one of the world’s largest auto shows. At this year's event, many eyes were on the ASKA A5, a flying car with a retractable wing system that is hoped to be on the market in 2026. The aim is for the driver to be able to fold up the wings for driving on the road and unfold them when they want to fly. In theory, this four-seater electric vehicle can drive on the road and has a flight range of up to 400 kilometres on a single charge.
On the mobility front, manufacturers are also working hard to make cars increasingly customisable. Last year BMW presented a car that could change colour at the touch of a button. This year it has expanded the options by introducing a bodywork full of electronic ink, allowing you to choose from 32 colours and create your own patterns. Volkswagen, meanwhile, has unveiled a car with a digitally camouflaged body whose pattern changes to the beat of the music.
The ASKA A5 can reportedly fly up to 400 kilometres through the air on a single charge. Credit: Global Update
Mobile-connected urine analyser
From helmets that measure brain waves to detect cognitive impairment to credit card-sized devices that perform electrocardiograms. These are some of the more curious health-related inventions on display at this year's CES. The CTA, the association that organises the event, says that more and more people want to use this kind of technology. Meditation and mindfulness apps, sleep-tracking apps, virtual and augmented reality, and online therapy and counselling platforms are particularly popular.
One of the most talked about devices at this year's event was U-Scan, which hangs from the toilet bowl to analyse the user's urine. The device detects and monitors a wide range of biomarkers and is linked to an app that provides information about the user's nutrition, hydration and even menstrual cycle. Withings, the French company that developed the device, says it is equipped with low-energy radar sensors to detect who is urinating by identifying the movement and distance of their pee stream. The app gives users practical advice on how to improve their health based on the results.
U-Scan is a mobile-connected urine analyser. Credit: Withings
Smelling the metaverse
Among the most significant developments at CES 2023 is a category dedicated to the metaverse and Web3—the next generation of the Internet. More and more companies are working to create an immersive virtual environment where users can interact with avatars, entertain themselves or purchase products or services. Technologies such as 5G, augmented reality and motion sensors are all being used to achieve this.
To achieve a more realistic immersive experience, wearables that recreate senses appear to be a step in the right direction. Last year, a Spanish company unveiled a wireless haptic vest that allows users to feel more than 30 different physical sensations in real time in the virtual world: from a gunshot or a punch to an insect bite or a hug. One of the most curious inventions at CES 2023 is a helmet that allows users to smell the metaverse. The device, developed by OVR Technology, has a cartridge with eight primary aromas that can be combined to create different scents. "The quality of these experiences will be measured by how immersive and emotionally engaging they are. Scent imbues them with an unmatched power," says Aaron Wisniewski, CEO and co-founder of the company.
OVR Technology's helmet to "smell" the metaverse is one of the most curious inventions at CES 2023. Credit: Washington Post.
These are just some of the more promising inventions on display at CES 2023, which this year saw attendance levels similar to those before the pandemic. In total, the event attracted more than 3,200 exhibitors and 115,000 industry professionals. The trade show, which has been held for more than 50 years, has showcased revolutionary devices in the past, from the VHS video recorder and the CD to high-definition television, Blu-ray and 3D printers. We will have to wait and see whether the devices on show at this year's event will be forgotten or will mark a turning point in history.
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