Invisible headphones to chameleon cars: standout tech from CES 2022

From colour-shifting cars to digital art TVs and stress-predicting watches, the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which opened on Wednesday, offered its usual mix of wacky, visionary and desirable goods. Here are some of the highlights.

The NFT television

Samsung’s new  NFT screen
Samsung’s new TV feature allows enthusiasts to browse, display and buy NFT-based art. Photograph: Steve Marcus/Reuters

The non fungible token, which confers ownership of a unique digital item such as a work of art, became a multi-billion dollar market in 2021 and Samsung announced a new TV feature that allows enthusiasts to browse, display and buy NFT-based art. Given how much some NFTs cost, you may not have much left over to pay for the screen.

The stress-forecasting timepiece

Nowatch has produced a smartwatch that monitors your cortisol levels to predict stress. Developed with the electronics firm Philips, the watch predicts if you are about to become stressed an hour in advance and recommends activities to avoid that, such as going for a walk or meditating.

The health-monitoring lightbulb

Running out of interconnected home products? A lightbulb that tracks your body temperature and heart rate using a combination of radar technology and artificial intelligence was unveiled by Sengled, the Shanghai-based maker of smart bulbs. The bulb connects to a smartphone app and its colours change if it detects anything amiss. Sengled says its Smart Health Monitoring Light can even detect falls.

The portable burglar detector

Germany’s Bosch presented the Spexor, an 11.9cm-high (4.7in) device that monitors air pressure, noise and motion to detect break-ins. It can also measure air quality and temperature.

The metaverse wardrobe

A demonstration of the full-body tracking device HaritoraX.
A demonstration of the full-body tracking device HaritoraX. Photograph: Seokyong Lee/Penta Press/Rex/Shutterstock

The immersive world of the metaverse – the wooly concept of working and socialising in virtual reality – was given a sensory boost by the Japanese firm Shiftall, which has produced the PebbleFeel device that straps to a user’s back and allows them to experience the temperature of the VR environment they are exploring. It was demonstrated alongside Shiftall’s HaritoraX full body motion-tracking system, which allows users’ avatars – their digital representation in VR – to lie down, jump and spin around.

The invisible headphones

The Noveto N1 soundbar transmits music through ultrasound to “pockets” just outside a user’s left and right ear, giving the effect of wearing headphones, even though no head-based hardware is involved. The Israeli company says other people in the room will hear a “whisper” of sound only.

The chameleon car

BMW’s iX Flow prototype.
BMW’s iX Flow prototype. Photograph: Caroline Brehman/EPA

CES is also a big event for the automotive industry, which likes to show off its cutting-edge advances alongside the usual displays from mobile phone makers, TV set manufacturers and big tech players. BMW, for instance, unveiled a concept car that, thanks to an external wrap filled with electronic ink, was able to shift colour from white to black at the touch of a button.

The autonomous tractor

The John Deere 8R autonomous tractor.
The John Deere autonomous tractor. Photograph: Steve Marcus/Reuters

John Deere unveiled a self-driving tractor that can be controlled by smartphone and plough and sow seeds in a straight line. It plans to make the self-driving system available to a small number of farmers later this year.

The 1,000km electric car

Mercedes-Benz produced a prototype electric car with a range of more than 1,000km, approximately a drive from Brighton on England’ south coast to Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. The Vision EQXX, whose range is three times longer than that of the average electric car, could go on sale in 2024.

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