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10 weird and wonderful highlights from CES 2021

Our round-up of the best of CES shines a light on some of the more eyebrow-raising products from this year's tech show

10 weird and wonderful highlights from CES 2021

CES was an online-only affair this year, but that didn’t stop a load of big-name tech companies coming together to show off what they’ve been working on.

In typical CES fashion, we saw a mixture of predictable upgrades to old releases and exciting reveals for futuristic products that must be seen to be believed. Trying to grab our attention this year was a light-up face mask, a loyal cleaning robot and a dog collar that can translate barks into English (apparently).

Keep scrolling as we run through some of the highlights.

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LG’s rollable smartphone

How much will it cost? TBC

When will it come out? TBC

LG’s virtual press conference ended with a tease for a new shapeshifting smartphone. As you’ll see in the clip above, when the phone is held landscape, the top half of the screen can slide down to transform from tablet size to phone size.

Right now, LG is keeping fairly quiet about the ‘LG Rollable’, so we’re hoping more details leak out over the next couple of months.

This isn’t the first smartphone we’ve seen that can also be used as a tablet. Samsung’s Galaxy Fold (£1,599) and Galaxy Z Fold2 (£1,799) open up like a book so you can multitask or watch a film on a larger display.

LG’s transparent TV

How much will it cost? TBC

When will it come out? TBC

Although it’s still just a concept at this stage, LG got our attention when it showed off its 55-inch Transparent OLED Smart Bed. It’s essentially a unit with a giant, see-through TV in it that sits at the foot of your bed. LG says this concept product is 40% transparent.

As the TV slowly rises out of the end of the bed, you can choose to only show a small portion of the TV. For example, if you just want a little digital banner at the foot of your bed that tells you the time and the weather, you can do that.


LG had a busy show to say the least, also announcing new OLED Evo, QNED Mini LED and Nanocell TVs for 2021.


Meet the wearables of the future

Mudra Band for Apple Watch apps gives new gesture controls

How much will it cost? $179

When will it come out? March 2021

If you already own an Apple Watch, coughing up the cash for a Mudra Band will give you access to new gesture controls for interacting with your wearable.

Set to drop in March, the Mudra Band for Apple Watch will let you control your music, manage incoming phone calls and swipe away notifications just by using mid-air finger movements. It could potentially be useful if you’re out on a run and don’t want to break your stride to skip a track on your playlist.

We won’t pretend to know all the details about how this band works – judging by the company’s ‘How it works’ page, we’d need a science degree for that. The Mudra Band is said to use SNC (Surface Nerve Conductance) to sense ‘Biopotentials’ from the wrist, which are produced by electrochemical activity. Got all that?


Shopping for a smartwatch? Check in with our expert smartwatch reviews to make sure you’re choosing a Which? Best Buy.


Petpuls collar helps you understand your dog

How much will it cost? $99

When will it come out? Available now

Pet tech is a booming industry, so we weren’t surprised to see a couple of products for our furry friends pop up at CES 2021. The Petpuls is an AI-powered dog collar that ‘gives your dog a voice’.

Equipped with a small screen, the Petpuls collar can analyse your pooch’s bark and then detect one of five emotional states – relaxed, anxious, angry, sad or happy.

From the Petpuls smartphone app, you can check up on the history of your dog’s emotions and monitor the calories they burn when it’s time for walkies.

Sensor-equipped ‘smart’ face masks

AirPop Active+ Smart Mask

How much will it cost? $149.99

When will it come out? January 2021

AirPop describes itself as the world’s first ‘air wearables’ brand. Its latest product, the AirPop Active+, is a pricey face mask that teams up with a smartphone app to tell you about your breathing habits.

At a glance, this face mask doesn’t look too different to one you’d find on the shelves at the local supermarket. But look a little closer and you’ll spot a small, circular object on the side of the mask. This is where the company’s Halo sensor lives – it communicates with your Android or iOS smartphone and can also sync your data with Apple HealthKit.

By monitoring your breathing habits and the quality of the air around you, AirPop Active+ will be able to suggest when you should replace the built-in filter. The filter snaps into place and is positioned right behind the outer fabric of the mask.

MaskFone

How much will it cost? $49.99

When will it come out? Available now

The MaskFone is a face mask with a pair of built-in headphones. Its makers are confident that this makes the MaskFone ‘convenient’ yet ‘luxurious’, claiming there’s ‘no better alternative to keep you safe.’

This odd-looking face mask can be used to take calls on the move, as the built-in headphones are equipped with a microphone that can eliminate background noise. We’re told that you’ll get eight hours of playtime from the headphones before they need a charge. They’re IPX5 rated, too, which means they should withstand sweat, water and rain.

MaskFone uses a five-layer filtration system, made up of a ‘soft, skin-friendly inner layer’, three filter layers and a removable PM2.5 filter.

Project Hazel

How much will it cost? TBC

When will it come out? TBC

Gaming accessories brand Razer has introduced the world to a collection of concept designs at CES 2021. Arguably the strangest of the bunch is this face mask, referred to as Project Hazel.

To tackle the environmental issues surrounding disposable face masks, Razer has come up with an alternative that offers ‘N95 medical-grade respirator protection’. Project Hazel uses detachable and rechargeable ventilators and Smart Pods that the brand says will ‘regulate airflow for optimal breathability’. There’s also a transparent front to the mask, which is meant to make it easier for other people to understand what you’re saying.

Most of Razer’s gaming accessories are equipped with light-up elements and that theme has carried across to Project Hazel. A ring of light around the mask can be customised to emit any colour you like.


We don’t test smart face masks with built-in headphones just yet, but we have put together a guide on the best reusable face masks.


Samsung Bot Handy will pick up your rubbish

How much will it cost? TBC

When will it come out? TBC

Samsung has big plans to bring robots into daily life, and it has announced a couple of new projects this week including a smart vacuum cleaner and the chore-busting Samsung Bot Handy.

Samsung Bot Handy is currently in development. It’s an advanced AI that can recognise and collect objects of different sizes so that your floor is left nice and clean. Samsung says the keen robot can tell the difference between the material composition of each object it spots, so we’re hoping that means it leaves snoozing pets alone.

Samsung JetBot 90 AI+

How much will it cost? TBC

When will it come out? First half of 2021

Like the Bot Handy, this futuristic vacuum cleaner uses object-recognition technology to clean your home, classifying each object or obstacle it meets.

Samsung JetBot 90 AI+ (not the catchiest name ever) can also avoid cables while still managing to reach hard-to-clean corners in your home. It has a built-in camera and connects with the Samsung SmartThings app so you can check in on its progress.


If you like the sound of a robot that can clean up after you, have a look at our expert robot vacuum cleaner reviews.


YSL Beauté Rouge Sur Mesure

How much will it cost? $299

When will it come out? ‘Early spring’

We first saw this gadget from French fashion brand Yves Saint Laurent at CES 2020. Finally, the company has given us a release date and shared more details about what it can do.

The Beauté Rouge Sur Mesure is essentially a machine you can use to create custom lipstick shades. The device can fit three of the brand’s lipstick colour pods inside. From the accompanying phone app, you’re able to select a custom shade that’s generated based on the pods you’ve put inside the machine. You can also share shades with other users on the app.

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