CES 2021: our selection of innovations

At the start of the year under the Covid-19 extinguisher, the CES (for Consumer Electronic Show), the world’s largest electronics fair, was held not in Las Vegas but exceptionally on the Internet. From January 11 to 14, the 2021 edition was above all that of big brands, whose online conferences revealed some notable innovations, while small brands and young shoots struggled to exist in the media. Improbable prototypes, ultra-specialized products or future cartons: here is our selection of innovations spotted at CES.

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Roll-up smartphone

In the “spectacular” category, it is a very curious smartphone that the Korean manufacturer LG has unveiled, capable of transforming into a small tablet. But there is no question of unfolding it like a book, like the Samsung Fold: it uses a motor which deploys a small extension. The Rollable’s manufacturing secret lies in its flexible and foldable screen technology, part of which remains rolled up inside the shell of the mobile, like a parchment, to be able to unroll when the smartphone unfolds. The effect is quite magical, but one can not help but wonder about the solidity of such a mechanism which leaves the fragile OLED screen exposed when slipped in the pocket. Not to mention the significant and repeated mechanical stresses to which this screen will be subjected when unfolding regularly. LG nevertheless ensures that this prototype called “Rollable” will give birth to a smartphone marketed this year.

Color tablet reader

Finally a tablet for the beach? In the “leisure” category, the NXTPAPER from Chinese manufacturer TCL incorporates a screen similar to that of an e-reader, therefore perfectly readable in direct sunlight, while being able to broadcast videos, which e-books are incapable of. But at night, this tablet will have to be illuminated with a bedside lamp since its screen does not emit light. Furthermore, its 1440 × 1080 resolution seems insufficient to display a perfectly sharp image on its almost 9-inch diagonal. Equipped with Android software, this “reader-tablet” has, according to TCL, a much greater autonomy than that of an ordinary tablet. It could be marketed in Europe from April at around 350 euros, which will make it an interesting alternative to color e-readers which start to emerge.

Samsung Galaxy S21

In the category “Heavyweights”, the Samsung Galaxy S dynasty, which has dominated high-end Android smartphones for ten years, has given birth to a new model, the S21. This descendant breaks with its predecessors by abandoning the curvaceous design that had been the strength of the Galaxy S for five years: its sides are no longer bevelled to the extreme. This should make the S21 less pleasant in the hand than its predecessors, especially since its width has progressed slightly. This smartphone nevertheless remains particularly compact. Among the journalists who have been able to take it in hand, many find its design very pleasing to the eye. The equipment of the S21 does not have much original to offer compared to its Chinese competitors. In addition, Samsung has chosen a curious material to cover its back: a plastic that will be much more prone to scratches than the glass of its predecessor. The price of this somewhat disappointing S21 drops by 50 euros to 860 euros, it will be available on January 29.

Recyclable parcels

In the “sustainable” category, the French start-up Livingpackets succeeded in attracting attention by launching the second generation of its reusable packages « up to 1000 times », equipped with a large digital label whose technology is the same as that of e-readers. Its packages are now equipped with an arsenal of sensors verifying that the product has been transported with care, monitoring temperature, pressure and shocks. A small internal camera and an electronic lock complete this equipment. Once they arrive at home, these packages must be unpacked by the recipients, who then have the choice between using them for their own shipments, or returning them in local businesses that need it, so that they can resume their circulation. This year, five Parisian supermarkets from the Boulanger network will experiment with sending a few packages for a few weeks, in order to observe, in real conditions, their ability to fit into supermarket flows and transport products without hindrance, as well as the reaction of customers.

Triple webcam

In the “Covid-19” category, the manufacturer Nextro announced a laptop ready for videoconferencing. Pompously baptized the “Admiror II”, it helps to appear in its best light thanks to a powerful lighting which runs all around its screen, imitating the principle of circular lighting (or ring) appreciated by YouTubers. Equipped with three webcams, it is able to shoot close-up, medium-shot, or wide-shot. It is unlikely that this computer be marketed in France.

Food Processor

In the “future” category, it is a old fantasy, a flame that Asian manufacturers insist on rekindling: that of robots intended for the most arduous household tasks. But, apart from the robot vacuum cleaner, very few innovations have managed to impose themselves en masse in our homes, and it is unlikely that the Bot Handy from Samsung will. He would however make a precious companion with his motorized arm capable of grabbing the plates to set the table, then retrieving them after the meal to slip them into a dishwasher – Samsung does not specify if he knows how to open kitchen doors without handles. This robot is also capable of tidying up items lying around the house, but it is not known whether it is able to find their ideal location. The Handy Bot is « in development » : we do not know if it will see the light of day.

High-tech dog trap

In the “curiosities” category, this cat and dog trap is motorized and equipped with a camera. When an animal presents himself in front of her, the hatch sends a notification to its owner, who can decide to let the beast in or not. This door seems large enough to let a human pass through, so we hope it is well protected against intrusion. Especially at the rate of 3,000 dollars (around 2,500 euros).

Parchment screen

In the “absurd” category, this screen unfolds like a parchment : we move aside its two rollers which, by unwinding, release a flexible screen. History does not say how many hours (or minutes) this very fragile and very expensive prototype lasts before breaking when put in the hands of an average user. Nor whether it should be piloted with the nose, since both hands are already busy holding its ends. But dreams of the future don’t bother with these kind of petty details.

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