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CES banner in Las Vegas

SCIENCE & TECH: CES conference debuts new gadgets to smaller crowds amid COVID spike


A wireless vest that connects people to the metaverse, an augmented reality chair that allows people to shop for makeup and eyeliner, and a human-like AI-powered robot will be among the top gadgets unveiled at this week’s CES Conference in Las Vegas.

More than 2,200 exhibitions will be shown at the much-anticipated three-day event starting on Wednesday, albeit in a scaled-down form amidst the COVID-19 spike.

CES, which historically has been Las Vegas’ largest annual trade show, was initially scheduled to run for four days, but the spread of the Omicron variant prompted organizers to cancel Saturday’s schedule as a precaution after a number of big-name exhibitors dropped out.

It will be the first in-person CES event since 2020. The conference, which normally draws more than 170,000 people and up to 4,000 exhibitors, will be scaled down this year due to the ongoing pandemic, according to organizers.

Among the blue chip companies that have backed out of this year’s festivities are tech heavyweights like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Twitter, Meta Platforms, Inc (the company formerly known as Facebook), Lenovo Group, AT&T, T-Mobile, BMW, General Motors, Waymo, and Advanced Micro Devices.

But the grim news linked to the spread of Omicron failed to put a damper on the enthusiasm for the previews and media events that were scheduled to be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday and Tuesday.

CES is happening in-person for the first time in two years in a slimmed-down form amidst a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

One car company that hopes to make a splash this week is Mercedes-Benz, which is unveiling its Vision EQXX, a solar-powered electric car that the German automaker says can drive more than 650 miles on a single charge.

Mercedes, like its rivals BMW and General Motors, canceled its in-person exhibit at the conference and unveiled the electric vehicle virtually. The company did not say when the vehicle will be going into production.

If the product can deliver the goods, Vision EQXX would best other top electric vehicles on the market, including the Tesla Model S Long Range Plus, which lasts 402 miles from a single charge, and the Lucid Air, which can exceed 520 miles on a single charge.

Mercedes-Benz is looking to compete in the luxury EV space currently occupied by the likes of Porsche Taycan, Audi E-tron GT and the Tesla Roadster.

Outside CES conference in Las Vegas
Many big-name exhibitors have pulled out of CES, but thousands of people still are expected to attend; other exhibitors remain part of the show — except they’ve changed their product debuts to virtual.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

GM will unveil its all-electric pickup truck. The firm’s CEO Mary Barra will remotely address the conference while discussing the company’s vision for its Silverado EV.

The vehicle is expected to go on sale in 2024, though the company has not indicated how much it will cost.

The Silverado EV has a large battery pack that is said to allow for 400 miles of driving on a single charge, according to Car and Driver 

Samsung will reveal its new “My House” virtual home where users can enter its metaverse and browse the company’s menu of home appliances and products.

Picture of a "virtual makeup chair."
PulpoAR, a startup with headquarters in the United States and Turkey, is unveiling a “virtual makeup chair” that allows consumers to test lipstick, eyeliner, and other makeup products before buying them online.
Courtesy of PulpoAR

A metaverse is a web of three-dimensional virtual worlds that is aimed at fostering greater social connection. It can be accessed through virtual and augmented reality headsets.

Owo, a Spanish tech company, will unveil a wireless wearable vest that when worn will give the user the physical experience of being connected to the metaverse.

The Owo vest uses haptic technology to employ vibrations that simulate events like getting hit by a ball, getting hugged, or catching a ball. The vest is being tested with video games, according to USA Today.  

New gadgets will also make use of augmented reality, which superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, to recreate a life-like shopping experience.

Picture of Ameca the robot
Ameca, a robot being debuted at CES, features “advanced facial expression capabilities” which allow it to “strike an instant rapport with anybody.”
YouTube/ Engineered Arts

PulpoAR, a startup with headquarters in the United States and Turkey, is unveiling a “virtual makeup chair” that allows consumers to test lipstick, eyeliner, and other makeup products before buying them online.

Asimula, a Korean vendor, will feature virtual reality headsets where users can experience the feeling of being in a live concert.

Vuzix, the Rochester, New York-based firm, will unveil augmented reality safety glasses that can send and receive data and video, including sporting events and games, through 5G technology.

A tech conference wouldn’t be complete without an appearance by Ameca, which is billed as “the world’s most advanced human shaped robot representing the forefront of human-robotics technology.”

Metaverse City exhibition at CES in Las Vegas
Some companies are pushing hard on the so-called “metaverse” of virtual reality at this year’s CES.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Developed by the United Kingdom-based Engineered Arts, Ameca is “the perfect humanoid robot platform for human-robot interaction.”

Ameca features “advanced facial expression capabilities” which allow it to “strike an instant rapport with anybody.”

It is fitted with sensors, face recognition technology, microphones mounted in its ear, and cameras affixed to the eyes.

Las Vegas background of CES conference.
The Las Vegas monorail traverses the CES conference, which is being held in-person for the first time since the height of COVID-19.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

The life-like robot is capable of expressing human emotions through gestures conveying anger, surprise, boredom, astonishment, and curiosity.

Will Jackson, an inventor and roboticist at Engineered Arts, posted a video showing Ameca in action.

“Ameca has a sense of ‘personal space’ and reacts accordingly,” he said.



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