Many of the biggest brands naturally stayed away from CES 2022. But there were still over 2,000 exhibitors with an impressive array of technology on display. Like much of the press and analyst community, I initially canceled my intention to attend. But I still decided to go to Las Vegas.
I’ve been attending CES for almost two decades, and this was the first time that I didn’t have a meeting in a hotel suite and had enough time (and space) to roam the living room. . These are some of the best tech products I have seen. Some show how the industry is changing, and some are just plain fun.
A car that changes color
The most amazing demo I saw was BMW’s iX Flow, a car completely wrapped in electronic ink “paint” that can be changed on the fly between black, gray or white patterns. BMW justified the design by claiming that changing the color to white during the day can cool the car, save energy and increase range. But it’s definitely more of a design gimmick than anything else, and that’s fine with me. Will BMW actually ship this? Not in its current form – if you look closely, the car’s electronic ink skin is scratched in several places, and the fit and finish fall short of typical BMW standards. It’s still very cool.
BMW’s answer for quiet electric vehicles
New electric cars are so quiet that automakers are now incorporating custom sounds to fill the silence. At the BMW Electric Cars and SUV Pavilion, I entered a sound tunnel where I experienced a Batman-style score created by Hans Zimmer to give character to BMW’s silent electric transmissions.
The John Deere Autonomous Tractor
Everyone is talking about self-driving cars, but John Deere has announced a fully autonomous tractor that you can buy today. Farmers face a shortage of labor and an extremely short window to harvest and plow the field before the weather changes. John Deere’s new 40,000-pound tractor moves on its own, plowing the field using machine-learning algorithms running on powerful Nvidia processors, as well as one-inch-accurate GPS. If the tractor notices an anomaly (such as a fallen billboard, a flooded section of field, or a stray animal), it will stop and send an image to the app on the farmer’s phone for further instructions. The farmer is free to focus on harvesting, business needs, or the sleeper robot tractors can work around the clock.
‘Metaverse’ is primarily a branding image, for now
The metaverse is coming! Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) glasses and headsets should be a primary portal to this magical place, but most of the AR and VR I saw at this year’s show were buzzwords. and the hype. However, a few promising developments emerged:
Qualcomm has announced that it is designing new silicon with Microsoft to power future AR glasses. This isn’t too surprising – Microsoft’s current HoloLens runs on Qualcomm’s PC platform alongside a Microsoft’s holographic processing unit (HPU) – but it does suggest that a new HoloLens will have better performance. and that it could happen sooner rather than later.
Sony Playstation VR2
Sony has announced the name of its highly anticipated VR gaming device – it’s the “Playstation VR2” – but hasn’t released any images of the device and is still playing coy with pricing and availability. Sony has teased content from its game studios, however: at a press event, it showed a video (above) of Horizon: the call of the mountain, a version of which will be released for Playstation VR2 in mid-February. Sony has a clear vision for VR, and it starts with games you want to play from successful franchises.
Sony also provided some spec details, which suggest the Playstation VR 2 will be relatively affordable, if you can find a PS5 console to drive it.
TCL AR glasses
I was able to try out a pair of prototype AR glasses from TCL, which put the equivalent of a smartwatch in your field of view using dual color waveguides. It’s based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 4100 chipset used in smartwatches and is designed to be worn all day before recharging. It’s just a prototype, and software and industrial design needs some work, but it definitely looks like the future.
Next-gen display technology was ubiquitous at CES (except at LG’s booth, where expected TVs were replaced with QR codes because the company pulled out of the show.)
What’s new from Samsung
Samsung presented an incredibly bright and crisp microLED TV in a more accessible 89-inch size (although the price is probably still astronomical). The televisions, which use 25 million micrometer-sized LEDs that individually produce light and color, are also available in 110 and 101 inches.
Samsung introduced a new computer monitor called the Odyssey Ark (below), which is extremely curved for more immersive games, work, or both. Samsung also exhibited various prototypes of foldable and rollable smartphones and tablets.
Sometimes you don’t need new technology, just better packaging: 2022 versions of Samsung’s Frame TVs (below) have a matte finish that makes artwork look more like paintings. on Web. Interior designers will love it.
Webcams for the zoom era
This was the first CES featuring many products designed after the pandemic began, and nowhere is this more apparent than in computers. In the past, PC vendors went out of their way to minimize bezels, but all new HP and Lenovo laptops at CES 2022 have slightly thicker top bars with better cameras and microphones, reflecting the fact that Video conferencing calls are a bigger part of working life – whether or not we’re back in the office.
Accessories brand Anker took the extra webcam to its logical extreme: the $ 220 B600 video bar combines a webcam, microphone, speaker system, and light bar.
Lenovo ThinkBook Plus
For people who want to do more work on their laptops, the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus has an extraordinarily large display and adds an additional tablet-like screen to the right of the keyboard.
Planet Astro Slide
Samsung, TCL, and others announced new smartphones this week, but none of them have a physical QWERTY keyboard for people mourning the death of BlackBerrys. Planet Computers traces its heritage back to the days of the Psion PDA that preceded BlackBerry, and its new Astro Slide is based on MediaTek’s Dimensity 800 chipset, making it the world’s only 5G QWERTY smartphone.
If you’re buying an electric car you’re going to want to charge it, and if you own a house with a roof, adding solar panels is clearly the way to go. Except you’ll need a custom installer, who can tell you that you need a new roof first, which will have support nails driven in to anchor the panels. Something to make you think twice before installing panels.
GAF Energy used CES to launch a smart solution: solar panels made from roofing material that any roofer can install – no electrical experience required. Then GAF sends a technician to hook up the wiring. GAF Energy solar panels are roughly the same price and efficiency as regular solar panels and traditional shingles.
Part of the fun of CES is, and always has been, the gadgets, and I found one that was able to (temporarily) tattoo my company logo on my arm. I could not resist. The Prinker uses a skin-safe ink that stays glowing throughout the day but can be washed off quickly with just a little soap and water. Is it a product that changes the world? No, but it’ll be a big hit in the evenings once it’s a thing again.
Avi Greengart is President and Senior Analyst of Techsponential, a technology market consultancy. You can reach him at [email protected]