Once again, the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is upon us, bringing thousands of tech workers, journalists, startup founders, bloggers and early adopters to Las Vegas to hawk and gawk at the most useful, wonderful and weird new gadgets. This year was as sci-fi cool as always, with translucent televisions, wall-crawling robots, artificial-intelligence-powered vehicles and more. We’ve chosen eight of the neatest and most functional-seeming of this year’s batch to share with you, from solar-powered EVs to magic mood mirrors.
Walking assist robot
Walking is a valuable form of exercise, but for many people it’s a challenge, whether because of aging, illness or muscle weakness. That’s why South Korean robotics company WIRobotics created WIM, a robotic assist device you strap around your waist and legs. It reduces the energy needed to walk by about 20 percent, potentially allowing walkers to go farther and feel less tired. The A.I. technology analyzes gait and predicts your movements, becoming “smarter” over time and giving you feedback on your performance. Whereas other wearable robots are designed to meet industrial and medical needs, WIM was developed for the general public to use purely when walking for exercise, the company’s CEOs Younbaek Lee and Yongjae Kim explain in a press release. The entire device weighs 1.4 kilograms (3 pounds) and folds up to the size of a clutch purse. WIM can also be used in an exercise mode, providing resistance similar to walking in water, and targeting specific muscles. The product will hit the market sometime this month.
Solar-powered tiny E.V.
On roads crowded with ever-bigger trucks and SUVs, Squad Mobility’s tiny solar-powered electric vehicle almost looks like a children’s toy. But the Solar City car is “surprisingly comfortable,” according to Engadget. In a sunny environment, the 6.6-foot-long car can go about 13 miles just on solar charge from its 250-watts-peak rooftop panel; it can also be plugged in like a regular E.V. With top speeds around 25 miles an hour, the car could be used to run errands or make a short commute, much like a golf cart in the city. The version at CES was a prototype; the company hopes to begin production next year and plans to market the car at $6,250.
Targeted hearing device
People with hearing loss often talk about the “cocktail party problem,” or the difficulty in listening to a specific voice in a noisy space. OrCam Technologies’ OrCam Hear targets this issue with a system of ear buds and an A.I.-powered app. The app samples voices and creates speaker profiles, which then allows users to choose which voice to isolate at a given time. Other voices and noise will be muted, allowing the user to better hear the speaker. “The use of deep networks plus the latest network architectures large language models are harnessed to make a game-changing experience for hearing aids and hearables in general,” says Amnon Shashua, OrCam’s co-founder, in a press release. The company expects to begin production of the device later this year.
The ability to know when you need to pee is something you probably take for granted. But for people with spinal cord injuries or neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis, a brain-bladder disconnect can cause infections, incontinence and other unpleasant symptoms. The South Korean company MEDiThings hopes to help, debuting a wearable that uses near-infrared technologies to “see” into the bladder and tell the user it’s time to go via phone alerts. Called MEDiLight, it’s worn as a patch on the lower abdomen. According to founders, MEDiThings hopes to work with U.S. universities on clinical testing in the coming year.
A powerful solar generator for emergencies
As extreme weather due to climate change increases, power outages are more and more common. These outages are annoying, but they can also be dangerous—nonworking indoor heat or air-conditioning can lead to hypothermia, heat injuries and even death. The Delta Pro Ultra from EcoFlow is a backup battery generator that runs on solar power, keeping houses powered in emergencies. At 186 pounds, it is portable enough to hit the road, powering R.V.s or tiny homes. You can also program the generator to take over during peak energy times, saving money on the electric bill. The device went on sale earlier this month for $5,799.
At-home health check
Your medicine cabinet gets a major upgrade with Withings’ BeamO, a four-in-one device that combines thermometer, electrocardiogram, digital stethoscope and blood oxygen monitor. The remote control-sized device, which the company calls a “multiscope,” has the potential to assist in telehealth visits, which are becoming an increasingly common form of health care. A patient could monitor their heart rhythm and breathing while on screen with their doctor, who could also receive a digital readout. The company hopes to have the device on the market this summer, pending FDA review. It will cost $249.95.
A desk bike to charge your phone
Combining the health benefits of a pedal desk with the energy savings of a body-powered phone charger, LifeSpan’s Ampera seems ideally suited for Silicon Valley multitaskers. A half-hour of pedaling can charge the average phone about 50 percent, the company says; cycling over 60 revolutions per minute can charge a laptop. The bike itself looks sort of like a barstool with pedals, small and unobtrusive enough for a home office. “As hybrid work becomes the norm, most professionals still find themselves at a desk with little to no physical activity throughout the day,” says LifeSpan CEO Jackie Wu in a press release. “The LifeSpan Ampera Bike allows workers to accomplish the same tasks moving as they did sitting still, while enjoying the physical and mental benefits of staying active.” The Ampera is available now for $799.
A mental health mirror
How do you feel when you look in the mirror in the morning? If you’re me, “grumpy” and “undercaffeinated” come to mind. Well, Paris-based health tech company Baracoda says its BMind smart mirror can take one look and tell how you’re feeling, then offer “personalized mental health coaching” to help. The technology uses A.I. and natural language processing to analyze expressions and gestures, then provide guided meditations, light therapy and affirmations. “Technology that can monitor for subtle changes in health has the potential of improving the quality of millions of lives,” says CEO Thomas Serval on the company’s website. The mirror can also guide you through tooth-brushing and analyze your skin’s needs. But can it make a cup of coffee? The mirror will be available by the end of the year for between $500 and $1,000.