If you want to see what the future looks like, then head to Vegas.
The CES tech expo takes place at the start of each year in Las Vegas and is the place to catch a glimpse of the biggest products from the year to come. What really gets most people’s gadget glands working are the wackier inventions. These could become the future of tech, or they might never actually see the light of day.
In this pick of the CES 2023 highlights, you’ll find a bit of both. But which is which? We’re going to break the announcements down into cars, entertainment tech, home innovations, and accessibility. Full marks to anyone who accurately manages to predict all of the genuine groundbreakers from the publicity-hungry vapourware.
BMW’s Colour-Changing Car
Is an electric car not high-tech enough for you? How about one that can change its finish 100 times a day? The BMW i Vision Dee is a concept design with 240 E Ink panels across its bodywork. These can display one of 32 colours each, allowing for some pretty wild designs. BMW will probably never actually sell a car covered in E Ink screens, but this was no computer render. It was shown live on a CES stage.
Sony is going to make cars
The idea of a Sony car may make you think of a Tesla copy with a PS5 baked in. This is a little different. Honda and Sony have teamed-up to create Afeela, a new brand that hopes to start churning out cars in 2026. Sony is there to provide sensors, of which modern cars have loads, and in-car entertainment. So maybe we will get that on-road PS5 experience after all.
Your next TV might be totally wireless
We saw a couple of interesting wire-free TVs at CES 2023. LG’s M3 is a relatively normal OLED TV, if a pricey one, but it can hook up wirelessly to LG’s Zero Connect box. This streams 4K content up to 30ft across a room, so you can hide games consoles and other boxes from view. Lovely stuff. Displace TV goes much further, with slot-in batteries for up to 180 hours of use without a power cable, and a suction mount lets you simply jam this 20lb 55in TV against a wall.
HTC Vive Elite
Most normal people who like VR use a Meta Quest 2, but HTC has gone big on high-end VR at CES 2023 with the Vive XR Elite. It can pass through a high-res full-colour version of the outside world, seen by 16MP cameras on the front. You can use it solo, like a Quest 2, or connected to a gaming PC for those high-end VR experiences. At £1,299, though, this is not the obvious fit for first-timers.
Sony’s accessible PS5 controller
Gaming is not always easy for those with disabilities, due to the complex and often precise movements required. Sony has come up with a solution for PlayStation gamers. For now, it’s known as Project Leonardo. It has a circular body around which customisable buttons sit. A flat bottom lets this pad sit on a table, or be mounted onto a surface, so the player doesn’t have to hold it. No dates or prices as yet, but the controller has already been worked on for years with disabilities experts and charities.
L’Oreal’s stabilising make-up applicator
Cosmetics have become one of the thematic pillars for online content creators, but make-up tutorials can seem blocked off to those with limited manual dexterity or a shaky grip. L’Oréal has teamed-up with Alphabet’s Verily to make this solution, called Hapta. It’s effectively a gimbal for lipstick that keeps it steady even if the person’s hand is shaking.
Home and work
Yes, you are probably sick and tired of facemasks by now but this one is very different. The Skyted mask “absorbs” your voice, so no-one nearby can listen in on your phone calls, or hear you swearing as you play Fortnite online. Its maker suggests one of these masks is perfect for those on flights holding business calls. Not our bag, but you can see the mask in action on YouTube. It features some of the same materials used for sound isolation on airplanes.
The laptop-charging bike desk
Working from home can mean your steps go way down and your energy bills go way up. But this could be a solution, if a slightly strange one. The eKinekt BD 3 from Acer is an exercise bike that is also a desk. We’ve seen those before, but this one converts your mid-meeting workouts into electricity that can be used to charge your phone, your laptop — whatever you like — through its three USB ports. With an expected price of £999, the costs might take a while to balance out, mind.
AI baby monitor that knows why the child is crying
There are four reasons babies cry. Well, that’s according to this “AI” baby monitor and night light, called Q-Bear. It uses software trained through 10,000 baby wails and will get to know your own child’s cries as it is used over the days and weeks. What are those four reasons? Hunger, soiled nappy, being tired, or wanting to be comforted, apparently.
The self-driving pram
First driverless cars, now driverless prams? This GlüxKind pram is much less of a bad idea than it sounds. The self-driving part can only be used when there’s no baby in the thing. And, when there is, the on-board motors can help you walk up hills with a 20lb’er weighing you down, and help you stay in control on downslopes.
Smart toilet that tests your wee
Vivoo’s toilet may not be what comes to mind when the term “smart toilet” is used. It’s not one of those Japanese wonders with a heated seat and massaging water spouts. This is a clip-on urinalysis device that places a test strip in the path of your wee stream. It then tests for “four wellness” parameters and delivers your results to the app within 90 seconds. We might not want to use this every time we head to the loo, but aren’t you a little curious about the magnesium, pH, protein, and sodium content of your urine and — more to the point — what they might mean about your health?
The AI oven that warns you when food is burning
Tired of your family saying you burned the dinner again? This AI-enhanced oven from Samsung can now tell you, too, but hopefully before it ruins the meal. A camera keeps an eye on food as it cooks, and the oven’s software can recognise more than 100 types of food, and judge when they are becoming overcooked.