A Preview of Tech’s Year Ahead—and Beyond

A city with no human drivers; humanoid AI avatars; self-driving cars that are more like living spaces; a small robotic ball that rolls around your house serving as a friendly companion/aide that can control other smart devices in your home as well as watch your pet while you are away and maybe do much more! Honestly, it is not entirely clear since that ball and the rest of the tech just mentioned were merely prototypes and concepts companies presented at this year’s annual CES in Las Vegas. And while not all of those concepts will ever reach the market, it shows the pie-in-the-sky ideas tech companies are dreaming of. Of course, companies also presented exciting new devices that will actually be available sometime in the near future. Here are just a few examples of near-ready products that left an impression on this year’s attendees and should be available sometime soon.

Hydraloop: Smarter Water Conservation

Sustainability was one of the trends on display at this year’s show, and one company made enough of an impression to be named Engadget’s Best of the Best CES 2020. Hydraloop ($4,000 and up) develops water and energy conservation systems for homes, gardens, pools, hotels, lodges, and more. The system is designed to recycle up to 95% of shower and bath water with the additional option of recycling up to 50% of washing machine water. This allows people to save up to 45% on domestic water consumption while also reducing their sewage emission and overall carbon footprint.

Withings: More Advanced Health Sensors

The Withings ScanWatch ($249 to $299) combines a heart rate and SpO2 sensor with three electrodes that can take a medical-grade electrocardiogram (ECG). That will make it the first clinically validated hybrid smartwatch to detect both risk of arrhythmia (AFib) and sleep apnea—once it clears FDA approval and is released. The watch, which comes with a 30-day battery life, offers continuous 24/7 heart scanning and delivers notifications when heart rate is atypical or if irregular rhythms are detected. All critical health data is collected and can be shared with your physician.

Lenovo: Foldable Screens Get Larger

At last year’s show, several companies showed off smartphones with foldable screens. This year, that concept moves to laptops. However, only one company announced actual plans to release such a laptop this year. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold ($2,499) will be the world’s first foldable PC when it arrives towards the middle of the year. The 13.3-inch display can be folded completely flat to be used similar to a tablet, folded in typical laptop orientation with the ability to leverage each of the displays independently, folded like a book for reading, and more.

L’Oréal: AI Comes to Skincare

L’Oréal’s Perso (ETA 2021) is a motorized cartridge system that creates personalized skincare formulas through the use of artificial intelligence. First, people use an app to take a picture of their skin and then AI will analyze the skin’s overall condition. Then, Perso will use geo-location data to asses local environment conditions that can impact the skin. Users then enter their personal skincare concerns and preferences (i.e., fine lines, dark spots, etc.), and finally, the data is used to create a personalized blend of high-performance skincare that can be applied in a single dose through the device.

Samsung: Vertical Videos Go Big

Gen Z was raised shooting and watching videos vertically on their smartphones, and Samsung is betting they will want to watch those vertical videos on a much larger screen. The Samsung Sero (approximately $1,600) is a 47-inch TV that has the ability to pivot between horizontal and vertical orientations—just like a smartphone. The TV can connect seamlessly with a viewer’s mobile device so they can stream their social content, YouTube, personal videos, and whatever else they want to watch in whichever orientation they prefer.

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