CES 2021 is all about ‘useful’ tech for the pandemic – and good thing too

Many consider CES to be a largely esoteric event for the tech nerds and the business folk to talk flash on a stage about innovation. But for your average consumer, it largely passes by mostly unnoticed.

However, this may have changed this year as the pandemic seems to have injected a bit of ‘humanity’ into its innovations. Some tweets remarked that despite its chaos in person, CES ‘lost its soul’ this year due to being held virtually.

And yet, ironically, what catches your eye this year is less of the flash and innovation of yesteryear and more the useful and important stuff – health, proximity with people, togetherness, wellbeing – the innovations that make our lives just that little bit better.

That’s why we asked Velveteers to identify what they saw as the best and most innovative creations unveiled so far.


A healthier you

For example, LG made a big splash around “making your life better and cleaner” in its main press conference. And sure enough, it’s lived up to it by showcasing its air purifier, Puricare, that can double up as a facemask and a self-cleaning water spout.

The ‘smart mask’ connects not just to the zeitgeist, but to smartphones to allow users to monitor air quality, to be alerted when the filter needs changing and to assess their breathing.

We also saw Razer’s smart facemask, a Darth Vader-like, futuristic mask with all sorts of clever features. There’s a good chance Covid will be with us for a while and many of us really want to up our facemask game. This one, with its transparent shield and clever valves that push out carbon dioxide and stop fogging, looks like a game changer.

In addition, we saw a new approach to blood pressure monitors from Canadian tech firm NuraLogix. For the first time, it looks like someone has invented a contactless means of measuring BP – something to do with clever cameras that analyse blood flow below the skin.

This could be huge, especially for the Velveteer who admits to “the most appalling phobia to having my BP taken. I have no idea why and I have tried hypnotherapy to conquer it – nothing works. Simply writing the words blood pressure makes my BP hit the roof.”


Better tech for a better home

CES 2021 also saw a new Aluminum 2-in-1 Magnetic Wireless Charging Stand – it might seem uneventful in comparison to smart facemasks, but it’s going to be an essential when working from home.

After all, we’re all using mobile phones instead of landlines and AirPods instead of built-in-headphones. We once relied on a single wire to charge all of our devices, but having a portable, interconnected system is going to be vital to future remote workers who are using phones and headphones for both professional and personal reasons.

Of course, it’ll need to be developed to meet the requirements of those without an iPhone 12. But without technology like this, we’ll be greeted with the horrible unexpected surprise of being muted mid-conversation because the battery fell flat.

CES also helped those of us trying to build in a home cinema by stealth: a stand here, a Dolby Atmos speaker there. What usually gives the game away is the masses of cables and big chunky boxes – an AV receiver the size of a small fridge and, as one Velveteer put it, “I’ve caught my son mountaineering on the subwoofer.”

That makes the short throw projector from Hisense highly appealing. All the fun of the cinema from a device that sits flush to your wall.

And finally, ‘bathroom tech’ noticeably stood out too. On the one hand, you’ve got The Stillness built by Kohler that comes with smart features which recycle hot water that spills over the edge, and provides scents and soothing sounds.

Probably a good thing given what Toto launched as well: a toilet that assesses the user’s health status via built-in sensors. It’s still in concept mode, but maybe a smart toilet is the obvious technology to signal, at last, that we’re flushing 2020 away.