During CES 2020 in Las Vegas in January, more than 4,400 companies debuted some 20,000 tech products, everything from 8K TVs to foldable laptop computers to plant-based pork from the people who brought you the Impossible Burger. (Clearly, the show has grown beyond just focusing on consumer electronics, as it once did.)
Aside from the robotic puppies, Bluetooth-equipped shower heads and robot warrior gaming helmets featured, many of the new products could be useful to people who are around the same age as CES, which debuted in 1967.
In case you’re curious, the Best of the Best award went to the Hydraloop, a home water-purification system that treats outgoing wastewater so it can be used in toilets, washing machines and gardens. The People’s Choice award went to the Razer Kishi, an accessory that turns your iPhone or Android device into a game controller.
Many of the new products could be useful to people who are the same age as CES, which debuted in 1967.
Here are two products that won Best of CES awards and three more that were finalists. (Tech site Engadget has been judging the award program for the past seven years.)
Winner, Best Digital Health and Fitness Product
Simple fitness trackers like the old Fitbit Flex are so last decade. Today, smart timepieces like the Apple Watch are all the rage. The French company Withings has carved out something of a niche by designing watches that have a traditional look — think stainless-steel cases, white faces and moving hands — yet boast the latest features to assess health and fitness.
In addition to tracking fitness activities, the company’s new ScanWatch passively tracks the wearer’s heart rate and blood-oxygen levels (a potentially indicator of sleep apnea). Withings says the ScanWatch is “the first hybrid smartwatch to combine medical-grade electrocardiogram and sleep apnea detection.”
The ScanWatch is expected to be available during the second quarter of 2020, pending approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The price will be $250 for the 38mm size and $299 for the 42mm size.
Olive Smart Ear
Winner, Best Wearable
While over-the-counter hearing aids are still awaiting FDA approval, personal sound amplification products are on the market now. Among the newest is the Olive Smart Ear. Designed to be worn in one ear only, the Smart Ear looks more like a high-end wireless earbud than a hearing aid. In fact, its stark white case may remind you of an Apple AirPod.
The Smart Ear uses Bluetooth to connect with its companion smartphone app. In the app, you can take a simple hearing test designed to fine tune the device’s settings, as well as adjust the volume and deal with feedback, which Engadget’s reviewer says can be a problem. Like high-end hearing aids, the Smart Ear also allows you to receive phone calls without reaching for your phone, and to amplify sound from a television without annoying your loved ones.
The Olive Smart Ear is available now for $299.
U by Moen Smart Faucet
Finalist, Best Connected Home Product
“Alexa, turn on the faucet” may not be something you’ve ever wanted to say — after all, how hard is it to turn on your kitchen faucet?— but Moen is betting people will find a use for its U by Moen Smart Faucet. And they actually may, considering the level of control the new faucet offers.
If you’re making yeast bread, for example, you can say, “Alexa, tell Moen to dispense two cups of 110° water.” The faucet will run the water to that temperature, then pause until you wave a hand across the sensor on top. In the faucet’s smartphone app, you can create unlimited presets for containers like dog bowls or baby bottles — any amount from 1 tablespoon to 15 gallons.
Moen says the faucet, which works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, is the only voice-activated faucet to offer voice- and hands-free activation regardless of the position of the manual handle (which is included if you want to turn on the water the old-fashioned way).
The faucet is available now. Prices start at $450 and vary based on style and finish.
Mateo Smart Bathroom Mat
Finalist, Best digital health and fitness product
If you dread looking down at the bathroom scale, you’ll like the Mateo Smart Bathroom Mat. Although it measures your weight when you step on it, it doesn’t display the number for your reading displeasure. In fact, it doesn’t display anything, instead sending the data it collects to its linked smartphone app.
And that data goes far beyond your weight. The mat’s “patent-pending, 7000-dot pressure-mapping system” reads your pressure footprint and calculates a posture score, while its heatmap can suggest the presence of chronic diseases like diabetic neuropathy. Since all this data is stored automatically, it’s easy to track changes over time.
Engadget says Mateo plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign during the next few months and release several versions of the product — topping out at $179 — by the end of the year.
MedExo Robotics ExoBeam
Finalist, Best Accessibility Tech
Unlike the products described above, the MedExo Robotics ExoBeam targets a narrow audience: people with Parkinson’s disease. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, 60,000 Americans develop this neurodegenerative disorder each year, and nearly a million Americans are living with the disease today.
The ExoBeam is designed to help with freezing of gait, a mobility problem that’s common to people with Parkinson’s disease and can lead to falls. Research has shown that this problem often occurs when someone is starting to walk, turning, entering a narrow space like a doorway or approaching their destination. The ExoBeam device, which attaches to the user’s belt, gives visual, tactile and auditory cues to help the person maintain walking pace and stay focused. As with other smart devices, data goes to an associated smartphone app, so caregivers can view real-time and historical data.
According to Engadget, the ExoBeam will retail for $500 to $700. A release date hasn’t been announced.
A Winning Pitch
While Engadget was judging the Best of CES awards, the CTA Foundation, which is affiliated with show producer Consumer Technology Association (CTA), was already looking for the next tech breakthroughs.
Eight companies pitched products ranging from a smart bicycle backlight — nearly everything was labeled smart at CES — to an artificial-intelligence yoga coach. The winning product, the Zibrio SmartScale, uses technology developed by NASA to measure and track balance. An associated smartphone app offers coaching in six areas that affect balance, including sleep, exercise and leg strength.
The Zibrio SmartScale costs $249 and will be available this summer.