CES 2020: "non-tech" players prominent in Vegas
CES as if you were there… HUB Institute takes you down the aisles of the planet's biggest tech show, which officially opens its doors on Tuesday 7 January in Las Vegas. But our experts have been on the scene since Sunday to give you a look at the hot trends of CES Unveiled. Key points of the first day.
4,000 exhibits, 250 conferences, 170,000 participants from 160 countries, etc. No question that the Las Vegas CES is still the number one global bazaar for innovation and technology. Two days before the official opening of this tech extravaganza, CES Unveiled let in 1,500 journalists and analysts from round the world to see a selection of the year's best innovations that have earned the titles of Honoree or Best of Innovation in the CES Innovation Awards. The 180 innovations come from startups and established businesses, and cover 28 product categories. That's why CES Unveiled is the perfect vantage point for previewing and studying the trends that will light up this year's show.
Has CES come of age in 2020?
The tech is no longer just an end in itself. These days it's what you do with it that counts. And in that sense, it's the so-called traditional players who are holding all the cards. The big non-tech groups are sharpening their profile with a more grown-up pitch: for example, L'Occitane with their Duolab device. The innovation consists of a device developed by Rowenta (Seb group), an assortment of capsules and a skin diagnostic tool. Duolab gives you tailored skincare, freshly blended and preservative-free. Customers can either buy their capsules as and when, or have a monthly kit home-delivered by subscription.
P&G are upgrading their Opte Precision Skincare System, which already bagged 4 Best Of Innovation Awards in 2019. The device scans your face to look for traces of hyperpigmentation and then recommends appropriate treatment. It's now 70% cheaper and 30% faster, with an upgraded user interface and form factor.
L’Oréal has also showcased their new device for tailoring skincare and make-up. Perso for example lets you recreate your favourite influencer's looks, and test them via augmented reality before creating them. Three colour cartridges are mixed to make up the right shade.
The same process can create a bespoke foundation colour. Personalised skincare is managed via a preliminary diagnostic phase which then creates a bespoke care combination of SPF, serum and moisturiser.
Generally speaking, Health Tech is on a roll, and the category has never been so popular. Then there's the new ScanWatch by the French firm Withings, which can spot instances of sleep apnea or atrial fibrillations, and Aura Strap, a bracelet for the Apple Watch which measures your body composition and hydration level, and non-intrusive Aerbetics devices aimed at diabetics. Sleep Tech, along with Baby Tech (which will have seen an 88% growth in sign-ups in its Awards category compared to 2019), are the ones to watch. The emergence of new health-related services and economic models is also worth noting, like the one developed by Peloton, which combines a $2,245 smart bike with a $39 monthly exercise subscription.
In any event, there are noticeably fewer gadgets on display, which definitely suggests a more sober outlook. This maturity is also in evidence around French Tech: according to Business France, there will "only" be 350 French exhibits compared with 420 last year. It's a refocusing where the consensus is to prioritise quality over quantity.
Among the early-bird headlines, Daniel Kichert, CEO of Byton, gave a press conference to announce the imminent commercial production of the M-Byte in mid-2020, at their 800,000 square metre plant in China's Nanjing. Showcased by the French designer Benoît Jacob, the young Chinese manufacturer's SUV offers among other features a gigantic 48-inch voice-controlled screen, located under the windscreen.
US firm Segway, pioneer of new mobility forms and bought up by the Chinese firm Ninebot in 2015, has unveiled several new ideas, including an electric scooter, the Kickscooter Air T15, which uses regenerative braking, and especially the S-Pod, a mock armchair shaped like a carry-cot and set on two wheels – like a sit-down Segway, basically. The company says the S-Pod can reach 23.6 mph and is steered with a keypad. It will be on sale in 2021.
Samsung is weighing in heavily, with 46 of its new products name-checked in the 2020 CES Innovation Awards, in such categories as Visual Displays, Gaming, Software and Mobile Apps, Embedded Technology, and Tech for a Better World. The Galaxy Note10+ 5G and two digital display products have carried off the Best Of Innovation Award, which honours the best innovation of its category.
The Korean chaebol has also stood out for its awesome 292-inch (7.4-metre) mega-TV, based on The Wall, a modular technology where you assemble MicroLed panels. This was presented as the next revolution in display equipment. Also in evidence is Sero, the TV that flips to vertical to appeal to millennials, who are fans of portrait mode.
Finally, lots of buzz and curiosity around the Neon project, which could be showcased during CES by Samsung Technology and Advanced Research Labs, better known as STAR Labs. The teasing is intense, as the project has its own Twitter account and website. They're talking about an "artificial human", no less, if you believe the cryptic tweet posted on the Neon account. Bixby, the Samsung voice assistant, has never really managed to stand up to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Will Neon manage to do better?
CES obviously wouldn't be CES without its gaggle of gadgets, each one more WTF than the last: among those stopping our teams in their tracks were Prinker, the temporary tattoo printer, and the American Kohler giving us its vision of the futuristic bathroom, with an Alexa-controlled smart showerhead and Numi 2.0 smart toilets offering among other things voice-controlled seat warming and dynamic lighting.
Still in the world of "smart ablutions", the US toilet-paper brand Charmin (Procter & Gamble) had fun with three varieties of robots aimed at enhancing life in the smallest room: we'll just mention RollBot, which brings a new toilet roll to your seat if you need it, by simple smartphone command.
Another oddity raising a few smiles: the startup Keep Labs is developing a smart storage container for keeping cannabis products fresh and secure (face-recognition opening, smartphone alerts, built-in scales, etc.). Last October, this earned a CES Honoree Innovation Award – the first for a "cannabis tech" startup. Last December, however, the CTA asked Keep Labs to avoid any mention of cannabis or use-related products on its stand. In the end the company decided not to exhibit at the show.