The first major consumer electronics show of the year was, as expected, remote. Last year, CES Las Vegas attracted 4,419 companies, and it was the last big expo as the COVID-19 cancellations followed worldwide.
This year, CES 2021 (January 11 to 14) had more than 1,950 companies show up for virtual launches, and although the schedule contracted, the variety and quality of innovation was there, albeit on-screen only. We’ll take a look at some of the winners that were presented Innovation Awards for outstanding design and engineering from the Consumer Technology Association.
AMD Ryzen 5000 Series desktop processors
Category—Computer Hardware and Components
The piece of hardware that attracted the most attention this year was a new processor family for desktop computers from AMD. AMD’s CEO Lisa Su called the Ryzen 5000 series “the most powerful PC processors ever built,” and they not only captured the attention of gamers and ultrathin laptop users, but the judges at CES as well. www.amd.com
The BioButton from BioIntelliSense, Inc. is a medical-grade coin-size wearable device that does continuous vital sign monitoring for up to 90 days. The maker says the single-use disposable design provides cost-effective COVID-19 symptom monitoring at school, home, and work. www.biointellisense.com
1st Mate Marine Safety and Security System
Category—In-Vehicle Entertainment and Safety, Vehicle Intelligence and Transportation
1st Mate Marine Safety and Security System is an engine-integrated man-overboard alert and proximity-based theft deterrent system. Wearable fobs for the captain and passengers link with a hub and mobile app. If someone falls overboard or a fob is lost, 1st Mate sends an alert and GPS location to the connected devices. If the captain’s signal is lost, the system can shut down the engine and alert emergency contacts ashore. 1st Mate can also be programmed to wirelessly lock the engine to prevent tampering or theft of the vessel.
EES (Electromagnetic Engineered Surfaces)
Canada-based e2ip Technologies has developed thin, semi-transparent plastic sheets that reflect, redirect, or block specific radio-frequency waves. The low-cost sheets can be integrated into outdoor or indoor surfaces to boost, direct, or inhibit specific telecommunication services such as 5G and Wi-Fi. This can result in savings by reducing the number of antennas needed for omnidirectional 5G access. www.e2ip.com
IBM’s Mayflower Autonomous Ship and AI Captain
Category—Vehicle Intelligence and Transportation
Built by ProMare and IBM, the Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) is the first full-size and fully autonomous vessel with the ability to self-navigate across oceans. In the spring of 2021, it will depart Plymouth, England, for Plymouth, Mass. You can view an eight-part docuseries on the building of the ship and its AI Captain: The Uncharted: Autonomous Ship Project.
Imverse Live3D rendering engine and volumetric holograms
The Imverse Live3D rendering engine and software can capture, edit, and stream live 3D holograms of multiple people simultaneously for applications in telepresence, remote collaboration, teleconferencing, gaming, telehealth, and online education. Looks a lot more intriguing than the flat, eggs-in-a-carton Zoom grids we’ve all become used to. www.imverse.com
John Deere X-Series combine
The robotic John Deere X-Series combine harvester has integrated intelligence with system settings from Combine Advisor and ActiveVision Cameras that help reduce damage to crops being harvested. www.deere.com
LG InstaView ThinQ refrigerator with voice recognition
The new InstaView Door-in-Door refrigerator from LG has a larger glass panel and new UVnano technology in the water-dispensing system to reduce bacteria. Knock on the transparent glass, and the InstaView panel lights up the interior. When your hands are full you can ask the appliance, “Open the refrigerator door,” along with other commands about the ice supply or even the events on today’s calendar. www.lg.com/us/lg-thinq
U by Moen smart faucet
It isn’t just major appliances that are adding new voices in the kitchen. You can converse with a new U by Moen smart faucet as well. Ask the faucet for 6 oz. of water at 98 degrees, or 20 seconds to wash your hands, and it will comply using a smart connection via Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Or you can use hand motions for touchless controls without reaching for the handle. www.moen.com/smart-home/u-by-moen-smart-faucet
MOFLIN, an AI pet robot
When making MOFLIN, their robotic furry pet companion, Vanguard Industries Inc. developed an algorithm that allows it to learn and grow by constantly using its sensors and interactions to determine patterns in its surroundings. The pet’s responses can involve an infinite number of movement and sound combinations. shop.vanguard-industries.com
Designed for those with reading challenges, the OrCam Read reads text aloud in real time from any printed surface, including product labels, or digital screens. The size of a pen, the reader has a point-and-click function that targets where you want to begin reading, or it can capture a full page or screen, even in low light. The OrCam Read operates offline for real-time response and privacy. www.orcam.com
Category—Drones and Unmanned Systems
Skydio X2 is an autonomous drone that combines a flight autonomy AI engine with a foldable airframe and dual optical plus thermal sensors. The aerial data collection can be used for situational awareness, asset inspection, or security patrolling. There are two configurations: one optimized for defense agencies and one for enterprises, first responders, and civilian agencies. www.skydio.com
Vespera space observation station
Category—Digital Imaging or Photography
The Vespera system combines a smart telescope and camera with your own mobile devices functioning as the eyepiece for the station. As you set up, the Vespera app scans and orients under the current sky using GPS, and then it offers an extended menu of what’s visible. You decide what you might want to observe, track, and/or photograph. You can program long exposures composed of stacked sequences of images. It’s only 15″ tall, it weighs 11 lbs. There’s a demo on the website: vaonis.com/vespera.
Fifth-Generation Waymo Driver
Category—Vehicle Intelligence and Transportation
The fifth-generation Waymo Driver system can be applied to many vehicle platforms including trucking, local delivery, and personal car ownership. There are a number of informational videos on the Waymo website: www.waymo.com.
Voiceitt is an app for people with nonstandard speech caused by medical conditions such as cerebral palsy, stroke, ALS, or traumatic brain injury. The software enables them to communicate and control smart assistants and other smart home devices with their own voice clarified by the software. It identifies, learns, and adapts to the individual’s speech patterns. It doesn’t need an internet connection, so it can be used anywhere. voiceitt.com
These are just a handful of the winners and honorees at this year’s CES. You might have noticed the absence of normal computer gear and products presented as “concept ware” not yet even beta—that was intentional. For a complete list of award winners and honorees including the smartphones, TVs, and laptops, check online at Innovation Award Honorees – CES 2021. It’s worth browsing.