CES 2024: The good and the just plain strange

Published on the 17/01/2024 | Written by Heather Wright

CES 2024: The good and the just plain strange

A look at some of this year’s offerings…

From earpieces that use AI to translate languages in real time to more robots than you can shake a stick at, CES 2024 didn’t disappoint in serving up futurist, and sometimes just plain wacky, innovations.

AI, unsurprisingly dominated. Volkswagen added ChatGPT to its in-car voice assistant, while BMW has buddied up with Amazon to replace the driver’s manual with AI. Now you can ask Alexa about your car and receive real-time information and change drive modes using a voice interface.

Do we need to mention that it’s AI?

BMW says it’s taking ‘careful steps’ to build a safe and trusted experience for customers, testing and iterating large language model capabilities ‘over time’ with its partners.

Speaking of BMW, it also showcased its Xreal Air 2 augmented reality glasses, just in case you want an extended driving experience. The glasses overlay navigation and hazard information, information on points of interest and entertainment content onto the real environment, for both drivers and passengers, BMW says. (We’ll take our drivers without the distractions thanks!)

The Vasco Translator E1, due out in June, offers real-time translation for 49 languages. The earpiece is connected to your phone and an app, with translated text visible in the app and spoken through the earpiece.

On the work front, Asus’ US$1,500 ZenBook Duo offers up not one but two screens on the notebook. The 14-inch OLED screens offer 3K resolution, 120Hz refresh rate and stylus support and the device has the added bonus of functioning much like a regular clamshell, weighting in a just a smidge heavier than a typical 14-inch notebook.

There were, of course, plenty of other laptop options on show, including many using Intel’s new Core Ultra processors with neural processing units to run machine-learning processes locally. Microsoft introduced a new Copilot key to Windows 11 PCs for those who want quick access to their PC’s AI capabilities. It’s the first significant change to the Windows PC keyboard in nearly 30 years and will invoke Copilot in Windows ‘making it seamless to engage Copilot in your day to day’.

If you’re after some action selfies, Hover served up the HoverAir X1 Pocket-Sized Self-Flying Camera, a 125g, foldable drone which the company says is ‘perfect for hands-free selfies or group photos’, with its intelligent flight paths framing users.

Of course, it wouldn’t be CES without some robots.

Samsung’s Ballie – announced back in 2020 – was back, but in upgraded form. It’s now a personal home assistant and projector that rolls around, handling smart home requests, projecting messages and video conferences onto walls, floors and ceilings, handling phone calls and keeping tabs on – and apparently even feeding – your dog. A Samsung promo video highlights some of Ballie’s tricks, including monitoring (and dobbing in) a dog while its owner is out, feeding said dog and projecting a video onto the floor to occupy it. Ok, I’m going to say it: Ballie is kinda cute…

Do we need to mention that it’s AI?

Samsung says Ballie can project videos in an optimal size and automatically detect your posture and facial angle to ensure optimal projection angles for the viewer.

There’s no release date yet for this one though, so Fido might be running free for a while longer.

For those more worried about what Kitty is getting up to, Flappie Technologies showcased an AI cat door which bars kitty from entering if she’s baring an unwanted gift of living, or dead, mouse (or for that matter any other little critters, including birds).

It also wouldn’t be CES without TVs. Plenty of TVs. This year was no different with folding TVs, 115-inch TVs, 8K projectors, transparent TVs and Samsung’s S95D OLED TV with its break-through glare-free display which won it plenty of fans on the floor. The OLED-optimised, low-reflection technology uses a new, specialised hard-coating layer and surface coating pattern to deliver the detail of OLED without the glare, preserving colour accuracy and maintaining sharpness.

LG meanwhile went all out with a transparent TV, which apparently will be available this year.

The LG Signature OLED T 4K features a contrast film behind the transparent panel, which can be raised to make the screen look like a regular OLED, or lowered for transparency.

“Content displayed on the transparent screen appears to float in air, yet simultaneously fuses with the surrounding space to create a compelling and atmospheric visual effect,” LG says. It envisages the TV no longer being relegated to the walls, and instead becoming a room divider or even being placed against windows.

There’s no word on pricing yet but it might pay to start saving now if transparent TVs take your fancy.

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