This week saw the annual 2020 Consumer Electronic Show descend onto the city of sin itself, Las Vegas. The usual clientele of high rollers and hen do’s made way for 170 thousand tech enthusiasts from around the world, all jostling to get their hands on the latest tech from almost every industry. Attendees had over four thousand exhibitors to choose from, from autonomous cars to the latest in breast pump technology.
This year truly represented the best tech innovations from every corner of the industry. To pay homage to this glorious celebration of tech, we have dedicated our entire weekly roundup to bringing you the best, worst and strangest tech that CES 2020 had to offer.
1. No more cleaning cat s#@t... AI has you covered
Perhaps one of the strangest examples of where AI technology can be put to good use. The iKuddle, an AI toilet for your cat, promises to do away with the traditional ‘scooping’ method of cleaning up after your feline friends. When your cat needs to go it simply walks in to the sleekly designed litter box, relieves itself, the AI then kicks in and recognises that a foreign agent has been left in the litter tray. The robotic scooper then scoops the poo into a ‘baggage area’ where it is automatically packaged neatly into a bag, so you don’t have to get your hands dirty (speaking in the most figurative way possible). The iKuddle is on the market for £252, and already selling like steaming hot cakes.
2. Impossible Pork
As the world turns their attention to the environment and climate, we’re seeing more and more people adopt vegetarian or even vegan diets. Asides from the obvious animal welfare issues, a plant-based diet can have a hugely positive impact on the world we live in. However, even though there has been an increase in people exploring these new diets, some people still just can’t take the leap, therefore we must find a way to make the vegan lifestyle more appealing to those die-hard meat eaters, and to do this we have to find an appealing solution that isn’t just lentils, pulses and beans. Enter, Impossible. Impossible Foods have been leading the way for plant-based alternatives since 2011, collaborating with huge fast-food chains like Burger King.
Whilst Impossible Foods have mostly been concentrating on creating a no-beef beef product over the past few years, they have recently decided to step it up a notch and re-create the most widely consumed meat in the world, pork. With their new product, Impossible hope to break into major meat-eating countries like China and will once again be collaborating with Burger King on their new sandwich-base dish, the Corissan’wich.
Will Impossible Foods’ new venture see an even bigger rise in the number of plant-based diets, we guess only time will tell.
3. Pundi X XPhone
Encrypted phone calls and text messages? This week CES got a look at a prototype of the first Pundi X XPhone, the world’s first Android-based blockchain phone… and it isn’t just for currency speculators.
Although it’s currently still in the prototype stages, the Pundi X is a big and unusually handsome device with square corners, and it’s due to be released towards the end of the year. The phone uses software which allows it to operate as a normal Android device, but you can swipe to the side to enter what Pundi are calling “Blockchain mode”. Once you’re in said “Blockchain mode” you can make encrypted calls and texts to other XPhones. While people tend to think that blockchain is used only for currency speculation, others are slightly dubious about the idea of people able to send totally encrypted texts and calls. However, what XPhone really wants to prove is how to operate a mobile communications network without having to rely on a central switching system. Acting Manager of Global Support at Pundi X said of the device "The ROM that we have available can be dropped on any Android device, and that's our aim, we're hoping that larger manufacturers will pick it up."
4. Robot waiters with Cat-titude
Yet another job we can shelve away for robots, waiters are ready to be replaced by a robot cat designed to carry plates to restaurant customers. BellaBot, the latest innovation from China’s PuduTech, is a food-ferry cat with attitude. The robot can move autonomously through restaurants, encouraging customers to collect their orders with a meow. Customers can even give the BellaBot a scratch behind the ears, or a pat on the head. Initially it will purr and react positively, but distract it too long and, much like your average cat, its mood will quickly change. Unfortunately it seems we may be waiting quite some time to greet BellaBot in the west, as PuduTech says it is particularly targeting Chinese restaurants that struggle to employ staff.
5. The future is bright with Samsung’s NEON
Watch out Alexa there’s a new assistant in town. NEON, coming from the Samsung Technology and Advanced Research Labs, described its technology, also called Neon, as "a computationally created virtual being that looks and behaves like a real human, with the ability to show emotions and intelligence." For us at home that means Neon makes video chatbots that look and act like real people. Full sized and weirdly detailed, these chatbots give the impression of holding a standard conversion. Until they open their mouths. Don’t expect a traffic update or the name of that one actor you saw in that one film 8 years ago, these ‘artificial humans’ don’t utilise AI learning and won’t be replacing Alexa anytime soon. Instead, they're designed to have conversations and behave like real humans. They form memories and learn new skills but don't have a physical embodiment, at least not yet.