7 Wild Things I Saw At CES 2023
BY ADAM DOUD/JAN. 10, 2023 11:44 AM EST
The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is an annual tradition for tech outlets. Companies from all over the world gather to show off their wares. Often, those wares are garden-variety things that you use every day. Then there are the others. These products come from visionaries, some of which are admittedly misguided. It's easy to laugh at some of the products on display at CES, but if you're not careful, you might just buy into the hype.
Some of these products will never see the light of day. Others will one day become as commonplace as automobile key fobs are today. When I traveled to CES 2023 to see Volkswagen launch the new ID.7, I took advantage of my downtime to try to track down some of the wildest stuff I could find. All of the products in this list are items that I just had to see in person. I cannot predict whether any or all of these products will one day grace your, living room, or car. But I can tell you that in the year 2023, they had something that caught my interest.
Maybe they're crazy. Maybe they're brilliant, I'll leave that to you to decide, but for what it's worth, these are the wildest things I saw at CES 2023.
Volkswagen ID.7's color-changing paint
Let's start off by talking about why I was at CES. Volkswagen sponsored my trip and paid for travel, food, and accommodations during my time in Las Vegas so that I could see the announcement of Volkswagen's ID.7 electric sedan. The car itself is very slick looking with great lines, and you can see all that in our news post. But the wild thing about the car comes in the paint job. Volkswagen covered this car in urban camouflage-style paint which is funky looking enough. But at the reveal, I got to see some extra tricks Volkswagen had up its sleeve.
Notably, the paint that Volkswagen used was able to change color on command. Specifically, Volkswagen used it to sync the paint job to music during the reveal along with a light show. It was pretty slick. This is nothing that will be shipped on a consumer product any time soon, but it does make for an impressive demonstration.
Qualcomm, Lenovo, and Dyson
These three companies all had wild offerings at CES, and all of them got their own hands-on articles. But it bears repeating that each of these brought some wild technology to the table. The Dyson Zone is a set of headphones that pumps filtered air into your mouth and nose. Keeping in mind that I only had a few minutes to spend with these headphones, I can tell you what I heard with my own ears. These headphones sound amazing. The Active Noise Cancellation is stellar. The passive isolation is solid. They are comfortable to wear. All of these things check all the right boxes. But then there's that face mask.
Lenovo had a dual-screened laptop called the Yoga 9i which can be used with both screens vertically, both screens horizontally, or with just a single screen while the second screen becomes a virtual keyboard. You can also clip on a physical Bluetooth keyboard and move it up and down into different configurations. It's arguably my favorite product of the show and I can't wait to get my hands on it.
Rounding out this section, Qualcomm is bringing satellite communications to flagship Android smartphones this year. Not only will you be able to contact emergency services from anywhere on the planet, but you can also send a text to your mom if you want to. It's pretty awesome that our phones will be talking to space, and Qualcomm is enabling that.
Moquito itch relief from Heat It
As someone who serves as a regular buffet for mosquitos, I'm always on the hunt for something that could relieve the itching and swelling that ensues. Well, a company called Heat It thinks it has the answer. Heat It is a small dongle that you can carry on your keychain. When a bloodsucker gets you, all you need to do is connect the device to your smartphone, launch the app, and when it tells you, place Heat It on the bite. Heat It warms up the affected area which prevents your body from releasing histamine, which is what causes the itching and swelling.
It's basically like a local-area Benadryl because it eliminates the body's natural reaction to an allergen or foreign body. There are no ill effects caused by the lack of release, and your itch should go away or perhaps not manifest in the first place.
Of course, it is January 2023, so there aren't a lot of mosquitoes out there now but come spring when the little buggers start hatching and causing mayhem, I'll be able to test out the Heat It unit that they gave me. Until then I remain skeptical but optimistic.
Glasses free 3D tech from Dimenco
Arguably one of the most interesting things I got to see at CES came from a company called Dimenco. This company showcased a cool piece of tech that essentially puts a glasses-free 3D display on a laptop or monitor. Unfortunately, this is not a concept that could be photographed at all, but I can tell you it had me giggling like a school child as I played with a simulated suit of armor that popped out of the screen at me.
I could zoom in, zoom out, spin it, and flip it, and it looked like it was floating in the air, half in and half out of the screen. I felt like I could reach out and touch it. It was simply fantastic. In fact, ASUS agreed and launched its own 3D laptop based on the tech at CES as well, starting with the ASUS ProArt StudioBook 16 3D OLED.
According to my interview with Dimenco, animators already have everything they need to make 3D graphics. These days, rendering for games and other animations is done using CAD drawings that are already 3D in order to add depth to the characters on a 2D screen. Essentially, if you have a CAD file, Dimenco's tech will make it 3D, using a pair of cameras that measures where your eyes are, and adjusts the picture on the screen to compensate. There's also an additional 3D layer on top of the normal OLED display you see on a garden-variety computer screen that makes the tech work.
Wireless power from Ossia
This next one is definitely grounded more in theory than in everyday use, but I'm excited by what it might mean. The dream is one day we'll be able to walk into our house with our phone, tablet, and laptop and we won't have to plug them in. Rather, the house will just send wireless power through the air to our devices and they'll just passively charge all the time. Ossia is moving closer to that goal with its Cota power concept.
Basically, Cota is like Wi-Fi but with power instead of data. A Cota power base station gets installed in your home and a device on the other end transmits a signal saying it needs power. The base station responds by sending out waves to find the best path to the device in question. These waves of signal bounce off of people and walls and eventually find themselves on the device that needs power. The base station then sends a beam of power to the device using the best path for travel with does not barrel its way through a human.
Instead of phones, which obviously do not have the right tech installed in them (though Ossia does make phone cases that can get the power), the company is releasing an indoor security camera that would be powered by the Cota base station. The obvious benefit is that a camera doesn't move, so once the device receives the power it's not challenging to keep the power flowing.
Unfortunately, Ossia did not have a working demo that it could show me, but it plans to release it later this year. For now, this remains a cool idea that maybe isn't as far away as you thought.
Wireless TV that vacuum mounts to any flat surface from Displace
Let me know which part of this sentence blows your mind the most. Displace is a lightweight, battery-powered, completely wireless, almost bezel-less TV that uses vacuum suction to mount to your wall. The TV weighs just 20 pounds when fully loaded and runs on just four batteries that are all hot-swappable. Four fully charged batteries will give you about a month of TV watching at six hours per day, but the TV only requires a single battery to function. Theoretically, you can have two batteries in and two batteries charging all the time, and you'll be just fine.
Plus, these TVs all talk to each other so you can put two TVs together for one huge TV, or you can have the same show syncing to all TVs in the house. Communications are handled by a base station that you keep somewhere in your home (in a closet or otherwise out of the way) and the TVs just display the picture which is what makes them so easy to sync with each other. The really cool part is you can take your TV from your living room, bedroom, and kitchen and put them all together to watch the big game of a super big screen, and then put them all back when you're done.
Plus, the TV doesn't have any ports or wires, since it's a smart TV as well. The only Achilles heel I can see comes in the gesture system which is the only way to control the TV. There is no remote and that's because CEO Balaji Krishnan doesn't believe that remotes are necessarily the best solution. I agreed to disagree. Plus, the price is in the quadruple digits for the TV and base station, which is pretty high for a 55-inch TV in this day and age.
Riding in a Tesla in the Vegas Loop
To cap it all off, I stumbled upon my last wild piece of tech outside of CES. Remember the Boring Company, Elon Musk's venture? Las Vegas has been something of a testing ground for Musk's tunnel loop concept, shuttling people in between the Las Vegas Convention Center and Resorts World. It's been around for almost two years, but it was my first time which is why it makes it onto this list.
For a $4.50 day pass, you can ride in a Tesla (with a human driver) through the tunnel from one point to the next. Between the LVCC and Resorts World, there's one transfer you have to make by foot to move into a second tunnel in order to complete your journey.
This is wild for several different reasons. First and foremost, you're driving through tunnels bored through the earth as a way to get around the borderline-inhuman traffic that CES generates, and it works very well. I'm honestly not sure how well this idea scales up as a mass-transit system, but it helped me catch rideshares, so I can't complain.
The tunnels and the shuttle service are undoubtedly convenient. I saved quite a bit of time taking those tunnels back and forth. If Las Vegas moves forward with the plan to open even more tunnels and stations, it will certainly become one of the more interesting ways to navigate a city. For now, it's a neat idea, and it saved me a bunch of time, so I'm here for it.