Science & Technology

5 Amazing Things We Saw at CES 2019

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Last week, Curiosity attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, a trip sponsored by EMD Performance Materials Corp., a business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. In between interviews with technology experts at EMD (which we streamed live on our Facebook page — you can still check them out here), we explored the show floor to catch a glimpse of all the futuristic technology there was to see. Here are five of our favorites.

Screens of All Styles

From displays that spanned entire walls to projections that turned any surface interactive, CES was full of ways we might see our content in the future. LG stole the show with its flexible OLED screens, which it showed off in the small scale with TVs that expanded and retracted from a sleek base, and in the large scale with LG OLED Falls, a 20-foot (6-meter) tall, 65-foot (20-meter) wide display made of 260 flat, convex, and concave screens.

Another standout was Samsung's The Wall, a modular display made from small microLED tiles that can be installed on any surface in any size, shape, or orientation. We watched as the 219-inch (556-centimeter) display transformed from a full-bleed televised concert to a tastefully framed art piece surrounded by what looked like a luxurious marble wall. Imagine: instead of buying a bigger TV, homeowners of the future might just beef up their screens by picking up a few more microLED tiles.

Window Technology

There was a surprising amount of glass-centric gadgetry at CES — think a Roomba that washes your window and a smart mirror that plays videos while you preen — but the coolest piece of glass we saw at CES was right there at the EMD Performance Materials booth. Their smart windows are made with liquid crystal, the same type of substance that's in the LCD screen on your phone and most TVs. When placed between two panes of glass, the particles within the liquid crystal can instantly change their orientation with just a zap of electric current, making it easy to instantly adjust a window's tint and save on energy usage. EMD also had an example of this being used for privacy glass — flip a switch, and it goes from clear to opaque white in a snap.

Autonomous Everything

While there were plenty of autonomous cars on display, we were more interested in the offbeat variety — because at CES, anything that could move on its own, did. We saw autonomous golf carts, coolers, window cleaners, even rolling luggage. Below, you can see me being tailed by Rover Speed smart luggage. Its handle is equipped with cameras that can identify you in order to follow you around the airport or hotel without losing its way. The autonomous suitcase is adorable in an R2-D2 sort of way.

The Future of Science

We had our eyes out for cool science tech, and you know we found it. AstroReality makes augmented-reality educational tools to teach people about the planets — including our own. In addition to models of planetary objects, they've also got notebooks that come alive when you view them through your smartphone camera with their included app. The app pointed out specific locations on other planets that you could click for even more information. It was seriously mind-blowing.

We were also seriously impressed with Vision Engineering's lineup of microscopes and 3D modeling systems. Instead of using eyepieces, the devices use a curved mirror that sends a different image into each eye to give you stereoscopic vision — and that lets you see objects in three dimensions. Below, Cody is checking out a butterfly wing. The microscope made it easy to pick out texture and see where different parts of the wing overlapped. Even better? Because you don't have to crane your neck over an eyepiece, they're way more comfortable to use than standard microscopes.

Big Brother AI

We often write about the various things AI can do, but it's a different feeling altogether when you see it in action. Everywhere we looked, it seemed like there was another camera using an algorithm to judge things about the people who passed by. The Dense Crowd Spatial-Temporal Structuring Solution from Horizon Robotics accurately calculated my age and gender (though it thought Cody was younger than he is: a fact that isn't too surprising). Another camera algorithm, the FaceMe Facial Recognition Engine from CyberLink, guessed our emotions from our facial expressions.

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Fascinated by the gadgets of tomorrow? Check out "What Future: The Year's Best Writing on What's Next for People, Technology, and the Planet" to see what experts think is coming up. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Ashley Hamer January 15, 2019

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