Las Vegas. Design at CES: no hyperbole, the user is the centre of attention

Under which forms will today's innovation truly enter our lives? Flying taxis, connected lamps and portable dishwashers: the smart objects of tomorrow on display at the Consumer Electronic Show.

Bell Elicopter

Since 1967, the “Consumer Electronic Show” – better known as CES – is the most important international fair dedicated to consumer electronics. With large-scale corporations and young start-ups from across the globe, over 3,900 exhibitors present to an international audience of over 170,000 visitors their latest prototypes in the field of robotics, mobility, wellbeing, safety and the smart home. An encounter with the latest innovations in the fields of virtual and augmented reality, of 3D printers and sensor technology. It’s also a showcase for untiring – and even debatable – experimentation conceived by passionate technology inventors, but CES is above all a privileged opportunity to try to deduce which forms of fine-tuned innovation – also thanks to the contribution of designers – will enter our lives in the future.

In the fair’s most recent edition, the products for the home did not strive for hyperbolic performance or overwhelm consolidated typologies but rather updated them by adding new functions, in the best of cases implemented in a user-centred way. For example MyLiFi®, the first consumer-market lamp with LiFi technology, the kind that makes it possible to transmit data by imperceptibly modulating the light from an LED lamp, thus offering a constant rapid Internet connection that is safe and creates no electromagnetic pollution. Manufactured by Oledcomm and designed by Pierre Garner from EliumStudio, its look sublimes, with a sleek and essential style, the shape of an ordinary adjustable desk lamp, and is alluring for the colour of its exposed wires as a small decorative note.

Instead, small families are the target of Tetra: a countertop dishwasher presented by Heatworks in collaboration with Frog Design. So compact it can rest on any kitchen counter – its size is in fact comparable to an average microwave – Tetra doesn’t require plumbing and is loaded by hand using two litres of water. It completes its cleaning cycle in just 10 minutes! The tech heart of this appliance, Ohmic Array Technology, uses the combined effect of graphite and mineral electrodes to create the heat needed for the water; since the temperature can be controlled with precision, Tetra can also act as a sanitizer and cooking device.

Sleep monitors and the implications on our health are instead at the root of Nokia Sleep: placed on a mattress, this small pillow is able to intercept the duration of sleep as well as record heart beat variations and any possible problems related to snoring. A special app allows you to analyse the quality of sleep on a mid/long range but also to regulate the light and temperature in the room.

Thanks to its Internet of Things (IoT)-abilitated control, physical and computer security is a sector many at CES have been exploring. Designed by Yves Béhar with his studio Fuseproject, Hive View is a camera manufactured by Hive, a British company in the British Gas group, for the consumer market. The moment it intercepts motion or noise, Hive View starts recording – in HD and with a 130° angle shot – and sends a message to the owner’s smartphone through a special app, thus allowing the user to stream live what’s going on inside the home. Conceived with original aesthetics in mind and unlike your average camera, thanks to its magnetic attachment Hive View can be removed from its stand and positioned just about anywhere.

Instead, the integrated security device from Momo resembles a small abat-jour. It was presented by the Italian start-up Morpheos. The various sensors it comes with can detect not only smoke or gas but also trace data sent via Wi-Fi, blocking the upload on cloud. Thanks to its integrated camera, Momo recognizes the faces of the inhabitants and can interface with smart home security devices installed in apartments.

Alongside designs that enhance already acquired normality, CES did not hold back on prototypes of amazing innovation, able to anticipate uses and habits in the short-term future. In the field of mobility, the prototype of an electrical flying taxi stood out. It was presented by Bell Elicopter: in Las Vegas, only the design of the interior was on exhibit, whereas the propulsion system has not yet been revealed. The driverless taxi should appear in the skies over LA within a few short years. It’s already been selected by Uber to inaugurate its first air fleet.

Bell Air Taxi
Bell Air Taxi

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