The All Digital CES Close-Up
The first-ever, all-digital CES, which took place Jan. 11-14, attracted nearly 2,000 companies that showcased on attendees’ computer screens a slew of next-generation product launches. It also provided a forum for keynotes from global industry leaders, live entertainment from Hollywood and more than 100 hours of conference programming. “The all-digital CES 2021 engaged the global tech community to experience innovation, make connections and conduct business. CES showed how the pandemic accelerated the arc of innovation and illustrated the resilience and innovative spirit of our industry,” offered Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the show’s producer. Featured were the latest innovations focused on the home, along with views of the industry’s advances in 5G, vehicle technology, AI and digital health. The show also included almost 700 startups from 37 countries. Here, Dealerscope’s editorial team presents a window into some of what was shown. For more, check out our website, www.dealerscope.com. CTA is also leaving content accessible on demand to those who attended the show, through Feb. 15, 2021. And plans are afoot as of now to hold CES 2022 in person in Las Vegas, and digitally, Jan. 5-8, 2022.
Hisense Touts U.S. TriChroma Laser TV Innovations
Hisense announced more improvements and an even deeper commitment to its laser TV technology. Fisher Yu, VP of Hisense and president of Hisense Visual Technology, said the company would launch a full range of TriChroma laser TVs with varying ultra-large screen sizes starting at 75 inches. The 2020 pandemic and its fostering of stay-at-home habits, he offered, has created a wave of “people of the screen” consumers who will be on the hunt for larger screen sizes. He reinforced this assertion, saying that Hisense sold over 25 million terminal display products globally in 2020, and maintained what he said was a #1 position in the Chinese market. Dr. Xinarong Liu, chief scientist of Hisense Laser TV, said the laser TV technology packs and controls separate lasers for purer display colors, with a 128 percent improvement over original RGB color performance in earlier iterations. TriChroma also achieves a 20 percent brightness enhancement at the pixel level, and 430-nit picture brightness, which Hisense says better that of a conventional TV. Liu remarked that during the pandemic year, laser TV was the only category that showed growth in the Chinese market, moving from niche to mass-market status, and he projected “explosive growth” to come in that category of television, noting that the continual addition of more brand players entering the global the laser TV market. The latest Hisense laser TV on display during the press event comes with a 100-inch screen, provides a wide viewing angle, and an eye-comfort level that is 20 percent improved over earlier versions, he said. He added that it features an AI smart camera to support karaoke and fitness video immersive interactivity. “We have high hopes and expectations for the future of this display technology,” he said. Besides focusing on laser TV, Hisense will also pay attention to the ULED TV side of its business, releasing new models in 2021 with higher refresh rates and dynamic range.
Sony Highlights ‘Creative Entertainment Company’ Credentials
Sony offered up to virtual viewers a well-rounded portfolio of products, technologies and market positioning at the all-digital CES, showcasing its evolution in this, its 50th year as a CES exhibitor, as a “creative entertainment company with a solid foundation of technology,” as Mike Fasulo, president and COO of Sony Electronics of North America, said. Sony’s 360 Reality Audio tech can now be enjoyed via headphones and speakers Dealerscope had already covered some of the earlier announced products, such as the new BRAVIA XR TV series – 4K, OLED and 8K TVs featuring Cognitive Processing technology – as well as Sony’s Crystal LED super-large modular displays, but there was even more. Sony also announced an expansion of its 360 Reality Audio services and product offerings, including new video streaming capabilities and content creation tools. This technology, introduced in 2019, makes it possible for artists and creators to produce music by mapping sound sources such as vocals, chorus and instruments with positional information, and placing them within a spherical space. The technology can be experienced through Sony headphone models such as the WH-1000XM4, which sports dual noise-sensor technology as well as being 360 Reality Audio-ready, and beginning in the Spring, via 360 Reality Audio-compatible speakers SRS-RA5000 and SRS-RA3000 which will be available then for purchase, the company says. Some gaming news was also shared by Jim Ryan, head of Sony Interactive Entertainment, who touted the company’s market dominance, stating that Sony’s next-generation PlayStation 5 console, which hit retail shelves in November, was in fact “the biggest console launch of all time.”
Samsung Aims at ‘A Better Normal’ for Consumers
Among the bevy of Samsung 2021 innovations in its product ranges, certain design hallmarks will be manifest, says the company: namely, flexibility, personalization and connectivity – and many of these are anchored in Artificial Intelligence (AI) designed to make technology both “personal and productive,” said the presenter, Sebastian Seung, president of Samsung Research (pictured with the Bot Handy robot assistant). The company’s presentation was loaded with highlights. Among them: Samsung’s new Bespoke 4-door Flex refrigerator, featuring changeable panels and a new filtered water dispensation system that will auto-fill a pitcher (Spring availability). The Bespoke also comes with a Dual Auto Ice Maker which makes not only regular cubed ice but also smaller ‘ice bites’ to suit different preferences for cold beverages. The company’s new 110-inch MicroLED display, which uses self-lit inorganic LED technology (March availability); it also features 4Vue (Quad View) allowing four-way viewing on the single screen. Also, more than 160 free channels are available on the display through Samsung TV Plus’. An interactive “HealthSmart Trainer” personal fitness function that will endow all 2021 Samsung TVs; it analyzes posture in real time and provides feedback on exercise form. The JetBot 90 AI+, which offers a fresh twist on robotic vacuums, using a camera combined with object-recognition technology to select the best and most efficient cleaning path via its LiDAR sensors (first-half 2021 availability); A SmartThings Cooking service that will expand the personalized meal planning function that now exists within Samsung’s Family Hub to other consumers via the company’s SmartThings App. The Bot Handy mobile robot was shown to give virtual attendees a glimpse of AI’s role in future robotics. It is capable of performing mundane tasks like setting a table and putting away groceries.
LG OLED evo TV among Intros
LG focused its tech innovations in the contexts of safety, convenience and an improved entertainment experience. Its ThinQ platform has evolved “into a lifestyle platform. We’re bringing a whole range of services to help you get even more out of our products,” offered Jin-hong Kim, senior VP of global marketing. “How we live our lives has changed,” said VP and Head of U.S. Brand Marketing Peggy Ang. “We aspire to multi-occasional spaces to live multi-dimensional lives. Living rooms have become classrooms and creative spaces. We have prioritized what health and wellness mean.” These changes she added, helped to inform LG’s 2021 products lineup. On the entertainment side of business, LG’s Tim Alessi, senior director, U.S. home entertainment marketing, noted the sharp rise in TV usage over the last year, and how LG has responded with new panel technologies, AI capabilities and a redesigned WebOS experience. A highlight of products introduced to viewers of the virtual event was the 83-inch LG OLED evo TV, offering high brightness and using the Alpha 9 Gen 4 AI processor. It sports better-sounding audio via a 5.1.2-channel audio upmix feature to improve the TV’s sound using only the TV’s speakers. A new content discovery method, a refreshed Magic Remote and NFC Magic Tap for screen sharing and mirroring are other features. And prior to the show, the company released information about a new iteration of its webOS smart TV platform. The webOS 6.0 platform will grace LG’s 2021 OLED, QNED Mini LED, NanoCell and UHD smart TVs. Paired with the new Magic Remote, the latest version of the company’s platform will offer viewers a more enjoyable and intuitive content discovery experience. The upgraded LG ThinQ AI in webOS 6.0 supports new voice commands for both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, making TV management and searching across streaming services, internet and broadcast channels easier. LG also showed off its prowess in robotics, including a CLOi UV-C robot that is tasked for jobs such as disinfecting hotel rooms and offering contactless room service to guests. Among the company’s appliance offerings this year are the LG WashTower, a washer/dryer combination that is stacked to take up half the floor space of a side-by-side configuration.
TCL Goes All In with Super-Sized TVs
TCL is training its focus on the ultra-large TV screen – not a coincidence, since that is where the focus of COVID-19-homebound consumers is also fixed as the industry moves into 2021. TCL had also held an earlier global press event where it espoused its overarching AIXIoT “connection, display, interaction” strategy to “encourage adoption of intelligent lifestyles” with the TV as the hub at the center, said Tiago Abreu, head of TCL’s X-Lab Industrial Design Center. The pointed press presentation on product plans for the North American market the next day, however, zoned in on certain categories including air purification, audio, and other products that “focus on giving joy and simplicity in people’s lives through the thoughtful execution of technology,” said Chris Larson, TCL North America’s senior VP. But much of the news related to the TV category. Aaron Dew, director of product development for TCL North America, noted overall industrywide growth in the U.S. in big-screen TVs of 15 percent over 2019. However, sales of TVs 70-plus inches in size, he said, were up 80 percent year over year in 2020 – and grew more than 150 percent in Q4 2020 over the previous identical period in 2019. With those stats to back him up, Dew added, “We believe 2021 will be an even bigger year for big screens.” To satisfy that growing consumer demand, TCL is offering a total of three 85-inch TVs at varying price points with diverse feature sets: the XL Collection (shown in photo above). The 85-inch 4K 4-Series Roku TV will come out first within Q1 ($1,599); stepping up from that model is the 4-Series QLED HDR Roku TV, and topping out the offerings will be the 8K 85-inch QLED HDR Roku TV with mini-LED control zone technology. Also evolving for 2021, he said, is TCL’s 6-Series, all new models of which will feature 8K resolution and the company’s AiPQ upscaler to handle non-8K content; the current 4K 6-Series model range will still be available, he stated. And for 2021, the newest Gen-3 mini-LED backlight technology will be a prime feature in ultra-slim TVs launching later in the year. What makes those TVs “ultra-slim” is an engineering achievement that TCL has dubbed OD Zero (with the OD standing for Optical Depth), and in those ultra-slim TVs, the distance between the backlight and the LCD display layer is said by the company to be 0mm.
Bosch’s Focus: Sustainable Solutions
The first-ever virtual CES gave Bosch the opportunity to showcase a mission it believes it has always followed: using technology to improve people’s well being — the core of its strategy, “Invented for Life.” Michael Bolle, CTO/CDO, detailed the company’s initiatives, which focused on two main sects: Climate Action and AIoT (where AI meets the Internet of Things). Following the tagline “Sustainable #LikeABosch,” the company presented sustainable solutions for health and wellness, living and mobility. Having achieved carbon-neutral status at the end of last year, Bosch cited climate change as a great motivator. It is now focusing on the emissions of its entire value chain, from the goods purchased to the disposal of the products sold, across all business areas. The company highlighted its consumer products that help people reduce their environmental footprint: These included: Heating systems that can help individual households save 2.5 tons of CO2 annually in Germany alone; dishwashers equipped with Zeolith technology that offer an energy savings of up to 20 percent; washing machines that help with water conservation; and power tools featuring intelligent power management technology that increases their lifespans – and that help people reduce electronic waste. “In our core mobility business, our wide variety of solutions and services help people reduce their carbon footprint. Here, we’re working toward a vision of mobility products that, when employed, can have no negative impact on the global climate and urban air quality,” says Bolle. “To pursue our vision, we’re developing a full range of powertrain solutions – from combustion engines to battery-electric powertrains to fuel cells, powering everything from e-bikes to trucks.” In the e-Bike Division, the Nyon control panel offers on-board navigation, fitness tracking, digital locking and topography-based range estimates. In the AIoT realm, Bolle explains: “We’re pursuing development along a path we call ‘industrial AI.’ For many other tech companies, artificial intelligence is primarily about creating models of human behavior, focusing especially on purchasing preferences. “Our approach, by contrast, focuses on the world of objects and their interaction with their environment. Whether in an automotive emergency braking assistant or when identifying faulty parts in production – in these cases, artificial intelligence is not telling machines what people are doing, but explaining the physical world to machines.” Top of mind in current times, of course, is COVID-19. “The solution we’re most proud of in this regard is our rapid test for coronavirus. Using our mobile Vivalytic medical analysis device, we developed the PCR test in six short weeks and launched it in March of last year. Offering an initial time-to-result of two-and-a-half hours, we have since shaved this down to less than 30 minutes for positive samples,” Bolle said. Bosch security cameras can be useful in fighting the virus as well. A new camera solution with integrated intelligent video analysis measures body temperature without contact, and anonymously, with a maximum deviation of half a degree. Using a software solution for the open camera platform of the Bosch startup Security and Safety Things, these cameras can detect whether the number of people in a shop or showroom complies with the prevailing coronavirus restrictions. In addition to the COVID-related innovations, Bosch has extended its focus on wellness with its self-learning AI sensor for devices such as wearable fitness trackers. This sensor, developed by Bosch Sensortec, adds artificial intelligence to portable devices. It helps them recognize and record any type of fitness activity that is based on repetitive, cyclical patterns. It utilizes edge AI, where AI runs on the sensor itself. Latency and power consumption are minimized, and user data remains fully private because it does not need a cloud connection or tethered smartphone to work. While we all continue to practice safety, Bosch is introducing its air-quality sensor for private households. “Along with conventional indicators, including temperature, humidity and air purity, this new sensor can also measure the amount of exhaled air and aerosols present in a room. Based on these readings, it can alert you when ventilation is needed, as both can be a risk factor in COVID transmission,” explains Bolle. The new sensor is being built into two of the company’s existing smart-home products: the Twinguard intelligent smoke detector and the Spexor mobile alarm device. Bosch is also working on AIoT solutions for connected and automated driving, “which can help eliminate gridlock and ensure smooth traffic flows in cities, while also significantly reducing both consumption and emissions.” Additionally, the company has been developing its automated valet parking solution. “Last year, we teamed up with Ford and the real-estate developer Bedrock to demonstrate fully automated parking in Detroit. It was the first U.S. infrastructure-based solution for automated valet parking inside a parking garage.”
OMRON Emphasizes Heart Health at CES 2021
OMRON Healthcare unveiled its first remote patient monitoring service at CES 2021, along with new digital health tools to boost patient-to-physician communication and empower more active management of hypertension. Within the last three years it has introduced the first wearable blood pressure monitor and the first blood pressure monitor with built-in EKG, and is continuing to transform the global heart health marketplace and advance the company’s mission of “Going for Zero” heart attacks and strokes. “We’ve applied over 40 years of category leadership, research, development, consumer feedback, and physician insights to the innovations OMRON has introduced here at CES that have redefined what a blood pressure monitor can do and how it can function. As we focus on our Going for Zero mission, we’re seeking to help those struggling to manage hypertension and its risks, especially with co-morbidities and complications associated with this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ranndy Kellogg, president and CEO of OMRON Healthcare. “VitalSight, our first remote patient monitoring service, and our new OMRON Connect 2.0 app are designed to give consumers more power in managing their hypertension, give physicians more insights to evolve treatment, and to strengthen the patient-physician relationship via remote monitoring,” said Kellogg. According to the American Heart Association national blood pressure guidelines, 116 million U.S. adults are in the hypertensive range and the CDC reports that 37 million of them have uncontrolled Stage 2 hypertension with a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. For those at the higher end of the hypertension scale, that risk is even higher during the pandemic as the health care system is overwhelmed in some areas and hypertension is an underlying health condition carrying greater risk of complications from COVID-19. OMRON created VitalSight specifically for hypertension management. It is designed as an easy-to-use service that a physician can offer to patients with high risk levels of hypertension. Patients receive a kit delivered to their home that includes an OMRON connected blood pressure monitor and data hub that are pre-set to securely share measurements with the patient’s physician and care team. VitalSight can be integrated with the clinician’s Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system or through the OMRON Doctor Dashboard for easy data analysis, which provides automatic notifications to signal when a patient has readings that require action to be taken. OMRON also previewed the new OMRON Connect 2.0 mobile app, which will sync with every connected blood pressure monitor from the brand and will serve as a personal heart health coach with expanded insights based on blood pressure readings and incentives for heart-healthy behavior change. Current OMRON apps, HeartAdvisor and OMRON Connect, will merge into OMRON Connect 2.0 which will represent a range of features from the current apps, vastly increasing the value of every OMRON connected blood pressure monitor. All OMRON connected devices, including HeartGuide, Complete and OMRON’s recently redesigned line of blood pressure monitors, will pair with OMRON Connect 2.0. It will be available to download on the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores in Spring 2021.” Kellogg emphasized, “Going for Zero is our corporate mission to eliminate heart attack and stroke. It’s at the heart of everything we do, every announcement we make, every partnership we form, and every product we develop. We invite all who believe in this mission to take the pledge and join us.”
Best Buy’s Corie Barry Details Her COVID-19 Strategies
In her first year as CEO of Best Buy, Corie Barry (pictured) was tasked with navigating some extremely uncharted waters. During her conversation with CEO of Fortune Media, Alan Murray, at CES 2021, Barry explained the ways her team adapted and how she personally adjusted her leadership strategies in the face of COVID-19. “Overnight, everything began riding on the back of technology,” Barry explains. And on top of that, the way in which customers wanted to purchase their products changed as well. Best Buy stores were forced to switch to curbside pickup only in March and opened back up to foot traffic in June, but a big chunk of the country was still working, learning and entertaining from home. Like many stores, Barry admits there were supply and demand imbalances that were simply beyond their control. As people got more comfortable in this new digital world, they began tacking on additional purchases that they didn’t know they needed. In the beginning, webcams were flying off of the shelves, which snowballed into consumers purchasing microphones, speakers, ring lights, and more. As comfort level with technology grew, it opened up the doorway to an entirely new segment of customers. But this comfort level also came with a new set of expectations, she explains. “If you have a good pickup experience at Best Buy, you’re going to expect that same experience everywhere, and vice versa,” says Barry. Even after stores opened, it remained important to keep the customer in control and provide an exceptional experience whether they were making purchases from their couch, curbside or in a store. This also meant that employees had to become more adaptable. Rather than having them hyper-focus on one particular segment of the store, they had to become familiar with several different categories and product types. Barry commended the flexibility of her team and mentioned the sense of unity that was felt amongst them as a positive result of the pandemic. During the discussion, Barry also touched on the topic of diversity and inclusion throughout Best Buy. With over 1,000 stores in all different parts of the country, the need for Best Buy stores to reflect the communities they are located in became increasingly evident, she says. Along with her team, Barry instituted a number of changes directly related to diversity. These “bold commitments” state that 1 out of 3 non-hourly corporate positions will be filled by a BIPOC employee; 1 out of every 3 non-hourly field roles will be filled by a female employee. Externally, Best Buy is reaching 30,000 teenagers through 100 teen tech centers, they are committing $44 million to expand college prep opportunities, and adding scholarship opportunities for HBCUs. As she looks ahead, Barry said she remains committed to incorporating inclusive leadership behaviors of vulnerability, empathy, courage, and grace into Best Buy. She feels that this authentic approach to leadership and the shakeups brought on in 2020 will inform a slightly different leadership team of the future.
Schneider Electric’s Aim: Creating Smart, Sustainable Homes
Schneider Electric’s purpose is rooted in sustainability and energy efficiency. Its goal is to enable energy access and efficiency for all, everywhere, said Manish Pant, CEO and executive vice president for Home and Distribution Business, at the company’s virtual address at CES 2021 with Richard Korthauer, vice president, Home And Distribution Business. “Our vision is to ensure that homes are not only smart, but sustainable,” Pant continued. “We help homeowners maximize energy to save money on bills and reduce carbon emissions.” While Pant asserts that the concept of the smart home is far from nascent, he urges that energy management solutions are a global priority, considering the increased amount of time the world’s population is staying at home, consuming more energy than ever. Our homes have four main challenges Pant explained: Sustainability, Resilience, Efficiency and Personalization. Energy consumption has skyrocketed during the pandemic with homes becoming work and entertainment hubs. Add to that, the increased popularity of electric vehicles, and the stresses on the grid only worsen. “Our homes are expected to become the single largest greenhouse gas emitters over the next decade,” said Pant. “As consumers equip their homes with more connected devices, the ability to control and manage home energy consumption will be non-negotiable. A secure, interoperable power management system is key to ensuring consumers live sustainably even at home, by keeping energy cost and CO2 emissions to a minimum. Our new product empowers consumers to make better energy choices, and to take active control over their energy needs.” The Square D Energy Center, as part of the Wiser ecosystem of solutions, helps homes become more than smart — smart AND sustainable. By connecting a smart thermostat, a smart meter, a backup generator and a solar inverter with an AI-driven energy management system, the Square D Energy Center addresses pain points of resilience and effective energy management in the home. Korthauer explained that the Square D Energy Center is crucial because it provides total control of energy production and consumption; it will help maintain power during outages because it allows you to decide what products would remain on and what can be off. It will also save the homeowner footprint on the wall with its ergonomic design. With control from an app, homeowners can consolidate energy sources. Schneider Electric also introduced the Square D connected light switches and outlets, the X and XD Series. The XD Series gives a nod to the style-conscious consumer with its fully flush design, matte finishes, metallic color choices, and quick-changing design. Other features include side pressure plates; quick wire ground screw, large rear cutout for wire snips on receptacle; and self-grounding clip. Energy monitoring is available on all Wi-Fi and Z-Wave connected devices. Schneider Electric was also honored with a CES Innovation Award for its Acti9 Active, which helps homeowners prevent electrical mishaps and power disruption.
The Philips panel, l. to r.: Tas, Khanna, Stolze
Philips Talks Health & Wellness
Philips offered a “fireside chat”-style conversation during CES 2021 that touched on a topic that is especially germane during COVID-19: the company’s myriad solutions in the health-and-wellness arena, where it plays a dominant role that includes but also extends well beyond consumer-related products. The discussion was chaired by Jim Stolze, with Philips’ Deeptha Khanna, consumer & patient care chief, and Jeroen Tas, chief innovation and strategy officer, as participants. “It has been a tragic year,” reflected Tas about the pandemic, “but we have seen the best innovations used at scale to change healthcare systems for the better.” It has been a challenging year, even for those who are healthy,” added Khanna, “as well as an acceleration of ‘online for everything’ from education to gym lessons. Health is at the forefront of consciousness.” Citing Philips’ leading stance in telehealth care innovations, Tas noted the growth in importance in virtual communication with doctors “with cameras at the bedside” to help guide frontline medical workers in their tasks. He also noted the rise in medical information-sharing and how that has helped in collaborative treatment of multiple health issues among consumers. Khanna spoke of the recent rise in a corollary technology to telehealth: teledentistry. She pointed to a Philips “smart” product innovation that the company believes can aid consumers in managing their dental care in these times: the Sonicare 9900 Prestige, which was just introduced at CES. Through Artificial Intelligence, it helps consumers adjust their dental care by providing a “coached,” personalized cleaning experience, detecting the user’s brushing style and adapting to that during the brushing session using SenseIQ technology. SenseIQ tracks and detects the pressure applied, the cleaning motions used and the coverage achieved; the sensors also monitor how long and how often the user brushes. Khanna also referenced Philips’ initiatives in the area of prenatal care, through its Pregnancy+ and Baby+ development and tracking apps, which she said are used on a regular basis by 1.5 million consumers. She also cited the Philips partnership with GSK that has endowed those two apps with data for consumers about vaccine-preventable diseases and available vaccines. Tas added that wearables, which nowadays loom large in the health-and-wellness sector, is another area where Philips has made a mark, particularly in chronic-disease management of conditions such as diabetes and sleep apnea. Healthcare, added Tas, “is an ecosystem with data at the center of it, and solutions have become smart.” As to the future, added Khanna, “consumers are more aware and want to curate their own healthcare needs, and to be supported through every stage of the life journey – and we already have hundreds of millions of consumer relationships in place.”
HOME CHEF 4-in-1 Countertop Multi-Oven in the hands of Keith Habersberger, Ned Fulmer and Eugene Lee Yang, otherwise known as The Try Guys, for the ultimate test
Panasonic Tackles COVID, Contactless Retail, & More
Panasonic at the 2021 CES addressed the unusual nature of this year’s show and the desire to return to a sense of normalcy. Despite the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Panasonic was able to create a plethora of new product offerings – many of which provide solutions for preventing the spread of the virus – and give back to the community in a number of ways. The press event covered several different topics ranging from the 2020 Olympics (scheduled for July 2021 in Tokyo), the connected car, contactless solutions for retail, and more. The year 2020 marked the first time since 1944 that the Olympics were cancelled, which also meant the first time in over 30 years that Panasonic was not helping to power the games. But rest assured, they are making their return this summer in Tokyo and Panasonic will be playing a major part in their return with their audio and visual elements throughout The Olympic Stadium. The four athletes that were introduced at CES 2020 as part of Team Panasonic have been working towards creating opportunities for the next generation of athletes and giving back to their communities. Swimmer Katie Ledecky has been passionate advocate for students inspiring new generations to pursue STEAM and STEM careers. Rising karate star Sakura Kokumai has offered free virtual karate lessons during the pandemic while many gyms and training facilities were closed. Team captain and swimmer Michael Phelps was the co-executive producer for the film, The Weight of Gold, which touched on the mental health struggles that many Olympic athletes face. Blind Paralympic long-jumper Lex Gillette has worked closely with Panasonic to spread his inspiring message: “Adapting. Giving back. And continuously moving forward.” The company also detailed its ClearConnect Restaurant Technology, which minimizes contact with customers while maximizing speed and efficiency of service. ClearConnect offers point-of-sale devices, self-ordering kiosks and drive-through systems to help restaurants continue serving customers under new regulations. Panasonic’s smart lockers create a safe alternative to food pickup that also allows food to remain hot or cold in a locked encasing. Customers receive a QR code that they scan upon arrival, the locker opens, and they’re good to go. Panasonic has spread its talents across a number of entertainment categories from gaming to cooking. Panasonic announced the SoundSlayer Gaming Speaker (SC-HTB01) that provides full audio immersion into a player’s favorite games. Panasonic’s Lumix cameras offer versatility to capture a range of different moments like drone shots and gimbals as well as live streaming content. The Technics True Wireless headphones let users enjoy premium sound and best-in-class noise cancellation in the home and on the go. Our cars have become our second homes during COVID-19 and like the adaptations we’ve made to our homes for safety and entertainment, vehicles deserve the same attention. On the safety front, Panasonic has introduced Augmented Reality (AR) Head Up Display (HUD) that combines AI technology from the SPYDR cockpit domain controller to render near-field and far-field content for vehicle information including speed, object and pedestrian detection, and mapping and route guidance. On the entertainment side, Panasonic has partnered with major audio brands, Klipsch and Dolby Atmos Music, to bring an immersive technology-driven sound performance on the road.
Reminiscent of Japanese soaking baths, the Stillness Bath features water, light, fog and aromas. Completing the spa atmosphere, is the infinity overflow feature which sends water into the Hinoki wood moat.
Kohler’s Smart Home Innovations
With all that technology can do to improve our lives, you’d be hard-pressed to find a space in the home without the presence of tech innovations. The bathroom is no exception. However, as Kohler’s Smart Home Innovation Lead, Jonathan Bradley, explained at this year’s CES, the company is not concerned with implementing “tech just for tech’s sake.” In fact, the company’s vision is to provide “moments made better.” The smart home is changing our lives, Bradley acknowledged. Consumers are looking for convenience in addition to cleanliness. “We start and end our day in the bathroom,” he added. “We should walk into the bathroom and have the toilet open and have it interact and provide information.” The Kohler Innate Intelligent Toilet seat provides this. It includes a heated seat, auto open and close, intuitive remote, blow dryer, gravity flush and personal bidet functionality. Further, as many homeowners look for more DIY projects, Innate features Kohler’s ready-lock installation. The Kohler touchless bathroom faucet offers hands-free activation, addressing a common concern in recent times of spreading bacteria and germs in the space. Kohler launches an integrated faucet with embedded sensors as well as a remote “puck” that allows for a retrofit solution add-on to any Kohler single-control bathroom faucet. Kohler’s Escape Bathroom will be appealing to consumers who are looking for a spa experience at home. Reminiscent of Japanese soaking baths, the Stillness Bath features water, light, fog and aromas. Completing the spa atmosphere, is the infinity overflow feature which sends water into the Hinoki wood moat. Full spectrum lighting surrounds the bath, creating a chromatherapy experience. Fog envelops the surface of the Stillness Bath and essential oils can be added into the bath’s experience tower. As people become more invested in their homes, they should have the opportunity to build the smart home they want, Bradley asserted. This includes not only the ability to control lighting and music, but also to monitor water usage, a growing consumer concern. For the kitchen, there is Kohler Konnect voice-activated and touchless kitchen faucets; users can eliminate the use of a measuring cup by using Alexa to ask the faucet to dispense the desired amount of water, while also monitoring water usage. The ceiling-mounted faucet features a “puck” mounted to the counter. The kitchen faucets now offer a “wash hand” command that walks consumers through the recommended steps for proper handwashing, activating the water for wetting and rinsing, along with audible guides for lathering and cleaning. Kohler also will launch two co-branded products with Phyn in 2021 – the Kohler Whole Home Water Monitor Powered by Phyn – a DIY unit and a Pro version with an automatic shutoff. Both products include Phyn’s patented pressure wave analysis to monitor water flow to immediately notify a homeowner if a leak is detected and to provide detailed insights into how each fixture uses water. The DIY version mounts under a single sink and can be easy installed by a homeowner. The Pro variation is installed at a water main, either inside or outside the home, and can mitigate costly damage through an automatic water shutoff feature. Additionally, the Kohler OnCue Plus Generator Management System will now be available with additional voice control with a new OnCue Plus action on Google and a new OnCue Plus skill on Amazon Alexa to help homeowners control their Kohler standby generators from anywhere with their voice.
SKYWORTH says it paid special attention to the TVs’ design, especially the bezel width. The UC6200 features an ultra-slim half-inch bezel, while the UC7500, UC8500, and XC9300 feature the new bezel-less Boundless Vision design and slim depth screen that creates an edge-to-edge image.
SKYWORTH’s New TVs Feature Dolby, Google OS
Global TV brand and big-screen AIoT pioneer SKYWORTH unveiled its latest product line of TVs that incorporate a blend of sleek design updates plus the latest in streaming/connected home functionality. From bezel improvements and picture and sound quality to smart home compatibilities, SKYWORTH says it is positioning itself to “meet the demands of consumers who are investing in their homes and turning towards quality, affordable TV models,” asserts Chief Executive and President Tony Wang. The five upcoming series, the TC6200, UC6200, UC7500, UC8500, and XC9300, include 16 models of TVs, all built on SKYWORTH’s three “pillars of excellence:” Premium design and build quality; performance and technology partners (such as Dolby and DTS for sound); and Google Smart TV OS. The new models are powered by the Android TV OS, the smart platform that can turn the TV into the central hub of a connected home. Features include: 700,000+ movies and shows from across streaming services; Google voice-control function to control a TV, get recommendations of what to watch and dim the lights; and Chromecast built in to provide the ability to cast photos videos, and music from smart devices to a TV. SKYWORTH says it paid special attention to the TVs’ design, especially the bezel width. The UC6200 features an ultra-slim half-inch bezel, while the UC7500, UC8500, and XC9300 feature the new bezel-less Boundless Vision design and slim depth screen that creates an edge-to-edge image. Partnerships with LG, for enhanced picture quality, and Dolby, for superior sound, are evidenced in the new model features. The UC7500 series and up feature 10-bit color, which allows for more than one billion shades of color to be displayed. The UC8500 features a 120Hz refresh rate and VRR – ideal for gamers who play fast-moving games. The XC9300 is a “wallpaper-thin” OLED TV with Dolby Vision HDR imaging, Dolby Atmos immersive audio, and the company’s Chameleon Extreme, an image processing technology. On SKYWORTH’s OLED and QLED screens, Chameleon Extreme creates real-time adjustments to color, tone and image to optimize viewing. The SKYWORTH UHD models feature two-way Bluetooth 5.0 technology for uninterrupted remote control and interaction with other BT devices.
The Sion supports bidirectional charging functionality
Sono Motors’ Solar EV Solution: Sion
Solar EV is a new vehicle category seeking to shake up and revolutionize the way consumers drive and think of car ownership. In pursuit of this goal is the company Sono Motors, which was at CES 2021 to present its solution. Sono Motors is aiming at a leadership position on this field’s stage, with its prototype community-led next-generation vehicle: Sion. Sion blends the disruptive technology of solar with affordability, aiming to allow individuals to contribute to global sustainability in a convenient way. The Sion is offers a one-size-fits-all package at the price of Euro25,5000 ($26,000 U.S). It features a lithium-ion battery that, when fully charged, provides a driving range of up to 255km (158.45mi), according to WLTP standards. In addition to the battery, the Sion solar car is integrated with more than 248 solar cells in the body. This allows the car to charge throughout the day with the power of the sun – and it will still charge while driving. The integrated solar panels provide an additional range of up to 35km (21.7mi) per day, making it fully self-sufficient for short-distance driving. The Sion boasts a beautiful, sleek yet simple design that is meant to catch the eye. Of special note is the fact that a smartphone operates as a key. Within the app, the owner can digitally transfer the vehicle’s keys to selected drivers, so that keys can make the vehicle drivable by a friend or neighbor when the owner is away. In addition to car sharing, the Sion also allows for power-sharing. Power-sharing allows the Sion to become a mobile charging station that powers and can provide energy for electronic devices and even other EVs, with up to 11KW of power. The Sono app allows the driver to decide how much energy to share, and at what price, and also allows the owner to offer up the car as a ride pool service. This allows anyone using the app to seek rides and owners of the Sion to accept riders. The Sion is available via direct order online, and as of now, it is available only in the European market; potential markets are being explored as customer demand expands, the company says.
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