The CES went virtual. Does it demonstrate that even large expos can be better digested virtually? Read on and decide for yourself.

In terms of the actual products and technologies, it seemed easier to discover and absorb. So much time is spent traveling, walking and lining up at in-person events. All that time could now be used to actually explore more stuff, from home.

The downside, meeting people in-person, eating together and sharing the experience was missing. Networking was limited and the opportunities to bond and find interesting business partners is almost non existent. Proof again that seeing people in-person is never going to be replaced, even with the best virtual reality. I remember from previous live events, walking through crowds to see a new product from a vendor. I could feel the interest and excitement from each person. Seeing products online without the enthusiasm of people feels like it’s missing something.

AMD’s Dr. Lisa Su, President and CEO. With the introduction of Apple’s M1 processor the new chip war is heating up. AMD released the RYZEN 5000 Series CPU.

Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon kicked things off at CES

As with every CES, vendors showcase the good, the bad and the crazy in innovation. It is where ideas come to live or die. To me, CES is about the imagination of a future. Some of the products seem crazy and you have to ask yourself why. However, to understand the magic, you need to see beyond the actual product to the technology that’s inside as that’s what can spawn the next big thing.

Here are a few things that seem really cool…

Accessibility! A growing category to improve the lives of many people. This is where I think tech matters a lot. GoodMaps allows people with visual disabilities to navigate the streets as well as inside buildings. Some companies have built this sort of direction guidance support into walking sticks. Vispero launched a software that allows users to plug in headphones or keyboards to privately complete transactions. Allowing visually impaired people to read everyday things, like birthday cards or menus or getting support is a step in the right direction. What about self-driving cars? How will this impact those with disabilities? As companies dig into these areas, I think the future will look much brighter for people with all sorts of disabilities.

Healthcare. So many companies are building smart devices to monitor all sorts of health conditions. It’s almost certain that devices like watches will eventually monitor vital signs in humans and notify someone when things are off. Omron latest blood pressure device can send data directly to your doctor. AI and remote video by doctors are going to revolutionize healthcare. Philips’ Smart Sleep Band, toothbrushes, senior care monitoring solutions are just a few of things that can impact billions of people. Google is also trying to tackle Veteran’s mental health by helping them to find local resources. You can also expect to see a ton on technology innovation in the treatment, management and monitoring of the next pandemic. Would be great to see this sooner rather than later!

Wearables are everywhere. The MUDRA band controls your Apple watch with finger movements on the same hand. Touch-free interaction with the watch, even when wearing gloves! The band senses the movement of your fingers to do things. Certainly a must-have for people with mobility and visual challenges or if you just want to do everything with one hand.

Remote fitness is on fire since the pandemic. With everyone stuck at home, companies are rushing to bring fitness into the home. Peloton is growing fast with its in-home remote workout. TV’s are adding devices to bring fitness training into the home and track your progress. You can expect to see a lot more of smart exercise equipment connected to the Internet.

Samsung’s showcased many consumer in-home experiences including the Jetbot 90 clean up robot with AI to keep your place clean and built-in solutions to manage what’s in your fridge. Can you imagine the fridge scolding you from taking out unhealthy foods? No more beer and chips? What does an argument with your AI look like?

Transportation is always a big buzz. Electric cars and trucks are on the fast track. Even with the recent set-backs, self driving will remain a big thing. Tech in automobiles is gearing up into overdrive. Mercedes Benz Hyper-Screen 53-inch display dashboard screen is mind-boggling. In 2021, just about every car maker will be introducing an electric vehicle. Rumour has it that Apple may also join the parade. While the EV is the big news, the technology in the dashboard may be the bigger news. I think the car may just become the “mobile office of the future”! Having problems working from home, just get into your car.

Audio just keeps getting better and better. Honestly, I cannot tell the difference as most speaker vendors are rocking it. Portable wireless speakers are everywhere. Headphones are so good that it does not seem possible to make them any better. I already have several ear pods and headsets over-ear, on-ear with and without noice cancelling. My audio device options list is long. Sony’s 360 Reality Speakers looks like a winner. TV’s are getting better built-in audio. Automobile speakers are getting better. Speakers are getting smarter with more voice controls and 3D sound. I predict we will have speakers everywhere we go.

TV’s. Let’s just skip this category. It is getting way too much and we are watching way too much TV. Over the pandemic, I understand the true meaning of glued to the TV. Sure, TV’s are getting better every year – Bigger, thinner, blacker blacks, brighter and even see-through. I know that I cannot put any more TV’s into my home. One thing that I like is the ability to send video to my big screen TV when I do video conferencing. I still do not need or want an 8K TV. Maybe one day we will have such a realistic virtual TV and gaming experience that would warrant a 99K TV. Until then, my NETFLIX will do.

Gaming just keeps on growing. New concept gamer chair with a fold out 360 degree monitor. Everything fully integrated into the chair. Gamers can finally spend 24/7 playing their favourite games. Next up could be is a food and drink dispensing device with an integrated toilet so gamers can literally live in the chair. Seems like the FDA approved a gaming therapy for people with ADD. Gaming is becoming a medicine and therapy? Huh?

Virtual reality is definitely the future. As innovation accelerates, it is going to get really really, really fast. Beyond games and all sorts of virtual experiences, AR/VR is also going to play a huge role in healthcare. The ability for doctors and care-givers to get trained up and deliver remote patient care including surgery is truly amazing. If you have ever been pricked by a needle to get blood, then you know it can take many tries. With AR enabled devices, the nurse can find the vein in the first go. Painless and great news for people who hate needles!

5G. Sure it’s coming to your area… eventually. When it does we will deal with it. For now. We can keep it in the what’s to come box. Will the speed change the game in performance? Sure. However, how will that gel with the data limitations of Internet providers? What will the over-data charges look like on our phone bill? Is there health risks to 5G? Still lots to bake-out on 5G before we reap the actual benefits. I wonder if this will become a BETA verses VHS deal back in the day. Both technologies were killed by the CD, then the Internet killed that. While 5G holds a lot of promise, there are a lot of clever people that may end up disrupting the game by tweaking current technology. Maybe access that’s just 5X faster can be good enough for humans?

Smart Phones keep morphing into more powerful mobile devices. I currently use my smart phone for at least 50% of my computing needs like surfing the Internet, buying, e-mails and communicating. The struggle is between my laptop and smart phone. I have both open when I work and naturally switch between devices. I have only owned an iPhone and besides being aggravated with the necessary upgrades and forced security settings, I like it. I have more camera and video power than I can use. Recently I have been deleting apps instead of adding. LG’s Rollable smart phone looks interesting. If there was a way to get a bigger screen and keyboard on demand, I think I would increase my usage on my smart phone. Tired of making typos with the tiny keyboard from my big thumbs.

On the PC side, the Razer Blade 15 laptop and the ASUS ZenBook Duo looks amazing. HP’s Dragonfly, Elite Book and Elite Folio look very nice. Lenovo’s Yoga Book and Legion Slim look cool. Today, it is not difficult to find a notebook to meet all of your needs. Every year, they all just get better. The big news this year is Apple’s M1 powered notebooks that is just incredibly fast. The notebook battle will certainly heat up as everyone needs mobile devices to work from anywhere. Laptops have gotten so powerful that most can last beyond the usual expectations.

Drones are getting smaller, easier to use and more powerful. Sony’s new drone allows you to attach your Sony camera. Everyday, I see more uses for drones. Covering large areas for search and rescue. Protecting wildlife. Managing forest fires. Crime prevention. Capturing footage in all sorts of terrain. There are lotf of downsides to drones so hopefully the powers to be are monitoring and regulating this properly. Drones are now small enough to be inside your home that you can activate remotely. Imagine having your drone fetch you a beer? Your drone having a fight with your AI in the fridge? LOL! Drones will become a huge asset in security. We have all seen the Intel Shooting Start drones that can create animation in the sky – truly awesome and may someday displace traditional fireworks. Thousands of drones can be controlled by one person on a computer. High-payload drones for delivery of parcels. Drones are mapping homes to discover extensions so the city can charge you more property taxes. So many applications for drones!

Air purification has become a big thing during the pandemic. LG has a portable air purifier that you can put into your car or personal space. LUFH launched a purifier that does not need consumables. PLACA has a curtain air purifier that you can use around hospital beds. LG wearables are like a mask air purifier. This may be a real benefit to help care workers.

Environment technologies are definitely needed and they keep on rolling out. Simple everyday things like Samsung’s solar cell remote control for TVs will prevent millions of AAA batteries from waste. Every remote control should be rechargeable. Long-life and low energy bulbs and lights can be a good thing. Electric cars. Solar panels and other renewable energy solutions are already here and more coming to save the day. ZOMEKit helps apartment buildings to become more energy efficient and revenue generating buildings. Gecko is a shower wastewater energy recovery and recycle system. Still, much of the big energy and environment technologies were not at CES.

Who needs a METEO bath mat that checks your posture and weight every time you step in and out of the shower? Who needs the NUMO 2.0 intelligent toilet that is connected to Alexa?

There were a lot more tech at CES, but that’s about all that we could digest. On the bright side, I did not have to rush through the overcrowded hallways of the huge Las Vegas EXPO Halls. I did not lose any money in the slot machines. I do not have to catch a flight back home. I have zero chance of catching COVID-19. And so far, I do not expect any fights with the AI in my fridge! 🙂