The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2021 took a closer turn into its digital roots as the showfloor moved online. CGMagazine explored the most cutting-edge tech of tomorrow with the annual expo’s countless booths. From new to familiar companies showing off their latest inventions, there’s been a special quality-of-life pattern for this year’s consumer electronics. Of course, we also stumbled on some of our favourite gadgets and other appliances which do more to improve the extra time at home. Spanning smart masks, AR/VR peripherals for productivity, a commercial water recycler and smart perfume (which exist now), CGM’s own choices aren’t limited to the cool or strangely fascinating.
Razer Project Hazel
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has become a contributing factor for tech companies like Razer across 2020 and 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Project Hazel mask is a different focus from a company specializing in high-end gaming hardware. But the company has also kept an open mind to producing beyond the RGB-soaked offerings through other lines including its latest Productivity Suite. Of course, Project Hazel extends safety, security and even varying degrees of productivity for front-line workers worldwide. This is where its World’s Smartest Mask concept focuses on making the top N95-type masks even better. Its leading and CDC-certified N95 filters can be replaced. Each circular filter is also boosted by electric ventilators to block out COVID-19 droplets or other harmful particles by 95 percent.
But in true Razer fashion, the sleek ventilators are also lined with Chroma RGB rings for customizable effects. Under low-light situations, the mask interior also lights up for others to read lips in important verbal and nonverbal communication. Project Hazel also comes with a built-in microphone to clear up vocabulary for listeners, eliminating muffled speech under the mask. The mask also comes in an air-tight seal with all-day battery for constantly fresh breathing. In an attention to detail, we also admired Project Hazel’s charging case which comes with UV lights in the ceiling for sterilization. It’s still unknown if the mask will be commercialized or limited to essential workers when released. In a product which takes great considerations to help users amid the pandemic, CGM gravitated to Razer‘s stranger but well-meaning creations.
Razer Project Brooklyn
Razer double-dipped in their unorthodox CES 2021 entries by tapping into their gaming beat. Project Brooklyn is an all-in-one concept for gamers at home. The RGB-infused gaming chair comes at face value. But its level of comfort also follows a tried-and-true formula of back support. This is where Razer‘s gaming chair offers all-day comfort for long playthroughs or work shifts. The direct optimization for a gamer-centric back support comes with reclining options. As a chair, users can also keep all of Project Brooklyn’s true power hidden and work in any setting. But wasting the chair’s real features for a retractable table and 60″ surround screen would be a shame. Brooklyn features the mentioned screen as an ultrawide OLED monitor which connects to PCs and other HDMI devices. Of course, users can be creative with the deployable screen for any tasks they want to perform beyond the extra gaming benefits. If things get too intense, Project Brooklyn can also selectively retract the flexible display behind its seat.
Project Brooklyn hides another surprise quite literally under your nose. The chair’s armrests come with a retractable table that can hold virtually anything. Obviously, PC gamers can set their favourite mouse and keyboard peripherals as part of the all-in-one PC battle station. According to Razer, hiding the table will let players switch to console gaming. Without the table, users can rest their arms and use a controller on their lap with the 60″ screen. Just when Project Brooklyn couldn’t become more jam-packed, the chair itself has haptic Hypersense vibration. Players can feel different sensations on their back, thighs and sides against different in-game effects. This comes with zero latency, letting players sense attacks from different directions in a 360-degree benefit. The chair also contains its beefy hardware under a carbon-fiber frame, letting users relax without worrying about damaging and internals. Unfortunately, the chair doesn’t come with wheels and instead is supported by a flat blade. In the prospect of maximum home comfort, Razer‘s Project Brooklyn struck an RGB nerve with us as a welcome CES 2021 product.
Lenovo ThinkReality A3
Lenovo has slowly, but boldly experimented with AR and Mixed Reality (XR) across the mid-2010’s. Its ThinkReality headsets slowly worked out the kinks with holograms to help engineers, architects or every kind of office employee do more. The ThinkReality A3 was CGM’s fondest choice for headsets at CES 2021 for its potential to amaze ahead of AR’s big moment. Of course, its direct no-nonsense focus for work is strong. As we previously wrote, the A3 is directly integrated with Windows 10. This lets wearers turn entire rooms into their own desktop with expanding windows and other programs running outside of their single screen. Thanks to inside-out tracking and depth, windows can also be fixed like paintings in any part of a room. This gives other users and visitors in an AR meeting a gallery or holographic slideshow for information. The built-in GPU from its processor enables A3 users to generate full-sized models for CAD engineering which can include mechanical solutions, fully-sized vehicles and other factory-based items. In an added bonus, Lenovo has also included a few quality-of-life improvements from their A6 glasses. Swappable batteries and expandable SD card storage are in.
ThinkReality A3’s refined and upgraded features are all powered with a simple USB-C cable to any computer. The A3’s computing power is also boosted by its own built-in Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 chip. This lets the A3 use a 1080p 8MP camera to produce video calls for at-home or remote meetings. A standalone version lets users plug their A3 into a few Motorola smartphones for fully-wireless freedom. For mobile-based users, they can also keep their holograms, essential information and HUD with them across different hands-on workplaces like factories, laboratories, CAD design spaces and the hospitality sector. Though we would have wished all devices would be supported for a 6DoF (six degrees of freedom) experience like the VR-based Oculus Quest. But CGM’s interest in AR is only peaked by the ThinkReality A3’s potential to nail the formula before mass adoption. Thanks to VR development, Lenovo also carries a benefit of packing the S3 into a sleek but powerful glasses frame which is a wire cut away from stylish. This is easily our pick for a handy, but brand new AR gadget at CES 2021.
A worldwide interest in cycling has increased traffic and infrastructure, particularly across city centers. The Wheelswing-VOLT is just one of the solutions which meet a cyclist’s needs, literally as a self-powered engine which automatically spins the front wheel. This lets the VOLT attach itself to any kind of bicycle for a pedal-free experience. The most impressive feature comes from the VOLT’s eco-friendly and self-sufficient power. As an engine, it continually powers itself while using friction as seen in hand-cranked radios or flashlights. But at the high-speed velocity of riding a bicycle, this electric power is generated exponentially. In other words, the VOLT could (in theory) give any kind of bike an unlimited renewable energy source and engine. Of course, a second VOLT can be attached to the front or back for a complete usage with any bicycle.
This is enough for the VOLT’s spinner to move any bike’s wheel without pedaling (and supporting a rider’s weight). It’s a non-sequitur choice for CGM at CES 2021, but the VOLT’s compact size and magical efficiency were enough to steal our staff’s adventurous hearts. Because the VOLT can generate so much power at a constant, it’s even high enough to charge a phone or small device via. USB in rides. Like a gadget which keeps on giving, cyclists can conserve their e-energy while keeping their phones topped up before arriving at work. The attachment is also highly-accessible for all bikes. From its promising features in a small body, we also hope its price would also give worldwide riders equal access to the VOLT. Another question comes from how riders could stop with the engine continuously spinning wheels (though there should be a brake feature). In CGM’s eyes, the Wheelswing-VOLT is one of this year’s more special device to grace the showfloor and is already a CES 2021 Innovation Award Product honoree.
Samsung Bot Handy
A wave a day can bring object from far away. This was a concept-turned prototype for Samsung’s home line of products. The Bot Handy is exactly what owners could expect from a physical assistant. Its strong, but gentle hand can sort dishes and tableware into dishwashers. Samsung’s lifestyle AI features from their flagship products will also learn about an owner and their home for tailored tasks. For the Bot Handy, it can also use its Roomba-like movement to smoothly glide across living rooms and kitchens. After some programming and offering it specific guidelines, the Bot Handy can perform bigger tasks including your laundry when you’re away. This is where its tall body can move up and down for grabbing objects from different heights. It’s also (handy) in setting the table for dinner, as shown in its concept trailer. It can go as far as decorating a table or lighting candles for a much-needed romantic dinner.
Bot Handy’s responses also suggest it can listen to voice commands and other smart-speaker like features. Through its AI, users can use a combination of simple phrases or keywords for home tasks (including putting groceries away). At any future review or demo, CGM’s staff aren’t hesitating to adopt have Bot Handy over to make home life more comfortable. Its quality-of-life features are clear for becoming an assistant, particularly for accessibility or long-term care use. Its ability to reach heights, carry out normal out-of-reach or timely chores makes the Bot Handy another top CES 2021 choice that we hope to see in a store shelf someday (and not reserved for high-end homes).
Ninu Smart Perfume
One of CES 2021’s surprisingly compelling gadgets comes from the Ninu Smart Perfume. Like a ubiquitous “smart” item, Ninu also uses AI to adapt when spraying scents for users. This is where an app pairs with the device and allows users to choose their occasions. From sports to parties and work shifts, the sprayer’s special compound is infused with a variety of “flavours” to create a unique scent. This is what makes Ninu’s first-of-a-kind gimmick unique for creating a perfume for the right setting near-instantly. The real magic also comes from its refillable self-contained ingredients. Through different “ratios,” scents from sweet, savoury, bitter and sharp are combined accordingly. Of course, the resulting scent from Ninu is sprayed from the device and varies with a user’s own odor.
The Ninu Smart Perfume bottles themselves are also integrated with connections with the mobile app. It uses Bluetooth to send the right information and combination for scents to combine. Within the bottle, scents are balanced and stored in a special reserve for spraying. A button projects the mist for wearers. If users like a particular scent, they can also save their favourite ones. The information is saved to the app, while its AI continues to use the most-used scents to add recommendations. It’s unknown if the app would continue update with different occasions or customizable perfumes. Of course, the perfume’s formula would also be a refillable add-on. It’s also worth noting its ingredients would be 100 percent animal-free, with sustainably-sourced elements without sulphates and other toxic compounds. But for CGM, the idea of a self-generating perfume factory users can take with them is a convenient and practical addition to CES 2021’s hygiene gadgets.
Standing as a gentle giant for homes, commercial areas and industrial facilities, the Hydraloop is a water recycler. But its vision for mass adoption is also what makes the Hydraloop another highlight in our virtual field trip to CES 2021. To keep more taps from shutting off worldwide in a “Day Zero” scenario of water scarcity, the machines essentially reuse water twice and cleans about 85 percent of waste. The simple result comes with holding back water consumption while refiltering fresh water beyond the Britta in homes. The Hydraloop also follows a similar city-wide system of decentralized water recycling, but makes it possible to do anywhere with one install. It can also be directly used as smaller water treatment systems, delegating the process within schools, public parks and other institutions with higher-than-usual consumption. Surprisingly, the Hydraloop’s size was also comparable to a refrigerator and could be installed literally anywhere as an appliance. Its filtration also uses some magic to treat water without chemicals or replaceable filters, thus reducing Hydraloop’s maintenance.
The large system can be used as a single unit in regular homes. Larger places can also use multiple ones for bigger treatment. In water-running tasks for hygiene, laundry or sanitation, the Hydraloop can filter out bigger emissions by 45 percent. The water itself would also be clean and safe for reuse before it is normally flushed a second time. Installing the Hydraloop means integrating a box with any water system, with waste passing through the first time. The system would then route the filtered water for reuse, while a variety of conditioning would disinfect it. According to Hydraloop Inc., the water could be directly used for flushing toilets, the laundry, gardening and even swimming pools. The Hydraloop’s concept as an open treatment process, along with its prospect to save water by half of its consumption are enough to deem this one of CGM’s coolest technologies seen at CES 2021.
As a finalist for CES 2021’s Last Gadget Standing competition, the etee controllers aren’t exactly a phone for home. But they give VR, AR and XR users more functionality without buttons. The etees ditch the pesky buttons offered from Oculus Touch, HTC Vive Wands and Windows MR controllers. Though users aren’t getting the essential button presses most games are built on, they rely on a combination of raw hand gestures. Instead of simulating a grip or thumbs-up with buttons, the etee’s pressure sensitive haptics would directly translate it into VR, AR and XR experiences. Interestingly, sensors can also detect open and closed fists with minimal latency. This also gives the controllers a much longer lifespan without failing buttons over time. Originally a Kickstarter idea, the etee controllers passed their funding goal for mass production.
The etee controllers are made even more interesting for deepening immersion. By eliminating buttons, the controllers strip away more of VR’s (artificial) mechanical aspects which can pull viewers out of the experience. This is where the etee controllers do more to play on a user’s direct sense of touch in real life (as opposed to triggering it with a button). For maximum simulation and Matrix-factor, the etees are also lighter without buttons to make users forget about them overall. According to its product info, the controllers can be directly calibrated on pressure while it can sense nearly every intricate gesture. It’s still unknown how well the etee controllers can translate to pulling a mechanical trigger for first-person shooters in VR, or movement without joysticks. It’s also worth noting the etees are integrated with SteamVR only, creating limitations for Oculus platforms. Regardless, the controllers are also a welcome step towards making VR more immersive than before. Like removing hardware like sensors, controllers for hand-tracking and cables, CGM has found another evolution for games at CES 2021.
Content creators looking to precisely manipulate software with their hands can finally do so with the TourBox controller. Though it looks like a charcuterie board for fidgeting, each are actually programmable functions. Its use in Adobe Suite (Photoshop, Premiere, Illustrator, After Effects), DaVinci Resolve, Final Cut, Capture One and Comic Studio are among some of the software the TourBox can help through instant shortcuts. This is where buttons can simulate gestures for cutting, move, key-framing, deep-scrubbing through footage and expanding blocks. Tools can be mapped according to a creator’s wishes, while its range of controls can cover a majority of hand gestures. As a result, creators can have full control over an editing software with one hand without getting lost in keyboard shortcuts. Broadcasters and streamers can also rejoice at TourBox’s universal functions for Windows and Mac apps while performing gestures in teleprompting, transcribing and clipping videos fluidly. Without a combination of shortcuts, the TourBox works with a creator’s instincts and executes tools at will.
Its upgraded TourBox Neo includes over 14 buttons, including the clickable knob and dial. For content creators, they can also customize specific presets for their apps (with auto-switching). The snappy controls also come with an interactive on-screen HUD to help users adjust to the controls without looking down. Of course, the TourBox can also be paired with other peripherals including a digital sketchpad or any USB tool for accessibility. CGM gravitated to the ToolBox’s consideration for a rising level of content creators which is expected to grow across the 2020’s. As multimedia creators, we also loved the device as a solution for our imaginary hand-gestures while working. This is clearly a creative tool which addresses many pet peeves for leading productivity software and also makes the cut for CES 2021’s coolest gadgets.