From disinfectant robots and personalized perfume dispensers to creative automotive technology and innovative applications, cutting-edge products and high-tech advancements from around the world are on display at the annual Consumer Electronics Show.
CES is also normally one of the largest and busiest events in Las Vegas, Nevada in the United States. But this year, the coronavirus pandemic has forced the show itself to innovate – and bring everything online.
Nearly 2,000 exhibitors are participating in the Consumer Technology Association’s premier virtual fair, vying to grab consumers’ attention with a platform of virtual booths, presentations and one-on-one meeting rooms.
Marty Urick, 15-year CES veteran and Binatone vice president of sales, said that while there won’t be the side-by-side crowds CES is famous for, this year’s virtual gathering has its perks. .
“I think in some ways you might be able to see more because you have the flexibility to be able to jump from place to place,” Urick told Al Jazeera.
Innovate in a pandemic
Like many exhibitors, Binatone is announcing a new product designed to help people lower their risk of contracting COVID-19.
The MaskFone integrates N95 / FFP2 filters into a face mask wired for sound. The system allows the user to speak on a mobile phone via Bluetooth without removing their mask.
Built-in headphones allow a MaskFone user to hear audio and the buttons along the mask’s jaw are designed to allow the wearer to make or answer a phone call, browse songs from the music library of device or connect to Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. The electronics are removable to allow the mask itself to be washed regularly.
“We think it’s the technology that can be of benefit to people depending on what’s going on in the world right now,” Urick said.
Other companies showing products related to the pandemic include the Chinese company Unipin, which has a robot that automatically moves around a room to disinfect it with ultraviolet light.
Hussmann, the food retail arm of Panasonic, offers food racks developed for restaurants and grocery stores that allow customers to pick up orders without having contact with other people and without the risk of infection.
Hussman lockers can keep take-out orders warm and groceries at particular temperatures – room temperature, cold or even frozen – until the customer collects them.
However, not all new CES products are linked to a pandemic. Vera Schmidt, head of advanced digital design at Mercedes-Benz, described the company’s new MBUX Hyperscreen as a “milestone”.
With a futuristic Star Trek-like design, the single panel combines three screens into a sleek vehicle control system that puts maps and other information at the driver’s fingertips intuitively.
It also gives the front passenger a screen where they can watch movies and even TV shows in some areas, while keeping the driver from being distracted. The MBUX will be available on the new fully electric EQS luxury sedan.
Connect with investors
But it’s not just established companies showing their designs at CES – many other exhibitors are entrepreneurs looking to connect with investors as well as customers.
Ninu Perfume, based in Slovenia, is one such company. The company has designed a stylish fragrance dispenser that can personalize a scent for someone based on their gender, body chemistry, mood or activity.
“We wanted to solve one of the biggest handicaps of all perfumes in the world,” said Marko Matijevic, the founder of the company. “Not all scents are right for every mood or event you attend, and not all scents smell the same on everyone because of your skin type, etc.”
Operated through a smartphone app, the dispenser offers three basic types of scents – floral, oriental and fresh – which can be combined to create a personalized scent.
The application also incorporates artificial intelligence that can change the formulation depending on the season of the year or the temperature.
Ninu is in the prototype phase and is planning a crowdfunding campaign in March, with products hopefully shipping by the end of this year.
The company decided to exhibit at CES, Matijevic said, because it was ready to show its product to the world – and believed the world was ready for something positive.
“We want the scent to adapt to each user and become a tool to boost your mood and confidence,” Matijevic said.