The 15 coolest gadgets at CES 2021

Even in a virtual environment, CES 2021 remains ground zero for innovation, with exhibitors, enthusiasts, and media opting for virtual press briefings over cramped convention halls and casinos for the first time ever. It’s an online-only affair, sure, but with more than 1,000 virtual exhibits and 150,000 online attendees, there’s still going to be a ton of product announcements and plenty of tech for us to sink our teeth into from afar.

Whether you’re into TVs, gaming, 5G, robots, EVs, or new wearables, we’ve assembled some of the best gadgets and gizmos from the online trenches of CES 2021. We’ll keep updating it as we go, so check back often.

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Brink Bionics Impulse Neuro-Controller

Brink Bionics device
Brink Bionics

What if you could shave 80 milliseconds off the amount of time it takes for your brain to tell your mouse finger to click/shoot an enemy in, say, a game of Overwatch? This is an example that Canadian startup Brink Bionics uses when describing the benefits of its Impulse Neuro-Controller, a glove-like gaming peripheral it unveiled at CES 2021. It doesn’t sound like much, sure, but with the glove’s ability to detect your mouse click before your finger even moves, it could become highly advantageous in the world of e-sports.

Razer Project Hazel smart mask

Razer Project Hazel smart mask

Maybe members of the anti-mask community would have a change of heart after laying eyes on Razer’s futuristic face masks. Not only does Razer’s Project Hazel filter air really well — it qualifies as a surgical N95 respirator — but it features a silicone seal on the top that glasses wearers will rejoice over. In true Razer fashion, the see-through concept is also equipped with “Razer Voiceamp” tech that listens to your voice and then “intelligently reproduces it” through a set of speakers, with the idea of making you sound less muffled. Sorry, no Bane-like voice manipulation included.

Cadillac eVTOL flying taxi concept

General Motors

It’s sometimes said that TVs are usually the big story at CES, but we beg to differ. With each passing year, the show continues to deliver some of the coolest, weirdest, and most tech-packed cars and vehicles we’ve ever seen. And with every big automaker slugging it out for their piece of the EV future, you have to stand out. One way to do that is with wild concept vehicles like Cadillac’s eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) flying taxi. During its keynote, General Motors highlighted the single-seater, twin-rotor eVTOL alongside other high-end EVs in the Cadillac lineup, each of which serves as an example of how the company sees the future of commuting.

bHaptics TactSuit X40 VR vest

TactSuit X40

The bHaptics TactSuit X40 haptic vest is here to nudge us ever closer to a Ready Player One world where all our sense of touch is delivered by way of VR visuals and full-body, simulated contact. But let’s not go too far down that rabbit hole. Instead, let’s focus on the coolness of this wireless haptic vest, which sports 40 vibration points designed to work in tandem with the company’s sleeves, face cushions, and hand and foot devices, providing lifelike physical feedback from VR and gaming content (including SteamVR and Oculus Quest).

LG Transparent Smart Bed TV

LG transparent OLED TV
LG Display

Imagine waking up in the morning, giving a little stretch and a yawn, and then activating a 55-inch Minority Report-level transparent screen, one that rolls up from the bottom of your bed and displays the day’s weather, traffic, news, and social media streams. The Smart Bed TV, as it’s called, is yet another example of LG’s prowess in the rollable display field, having wowed CES attendees in years past. This transparent concept stands out, even at CES, and the company sees a wide range of uses for it, including in malls, autonomous vehicles, and other commercial applications.

Razer Project Brooklyn gaming chair

Razer Project Brooklyn Gaming Chair

One of the great things about CES’s myriad of concept devices and technologies is when we see several of them, across different segments, come together to create truly stunning and innovative products. Gaming heavyweight Razer is no stranger to cool concepts, as evident in the Project Brooklyn gaming chair, which pairs a rollable OLED display with one sweet seat. Rods extend up from the back of the svelte bucket chair, while a 60-inch curved display engulfs you for immersive gameplay that is said to rival VR.

Panasonic Automotive AR HUD

Panasonic Automotive AR HUD

While many automakers are exploring, and indeed have already added, head-up displays (HUD) to their cars, Panasonic is hoping they’ll consider its Augmented Reality HUD system as an option as well. Stepping things up with an AR spin, the Panasonic system overlays symbols and text to the projected image on the windshield, while advanced A.I. and machine learning help with directions and allows drivers to detect pedestrians, objects, and obscured lanes. The eye-tracking tech follows the driver’s eyes, accurately lining up the AR graphics with what you’re seeing in the real world, helping make for a more engaged and informed driving experience.

Kohler Stillness Bath

Kohler Stillness Bath, CES 2021

With millions of people stuck inside, it’s no surprise that many people have explored the idea of sprucing up their homes with things like renovations, swimming pools, hot tubs, and, yes, fancy bathroom spas. We deserve it. And while you’re going to need some deep pockets for Kohler’s zen-beyond-zen Stillness Bath, it might be worth it. Ranging from $6,200 to $16,000, the Stillness line comes in several different sizes and offers up a relaxing experience, complete with colored lights, aromatherapy, fog, and a soothing infinity edge that trickles water into the grated drainage underneath.

Samsung’s Micro-LED TVs come home

Samsung Micro-LED

You may remember Samsung’s amazing Micro-LED tech from previous years as “The Wall,” a massive, modular system of LED panels that could be assembled as desired, targeted for commercial use. This year, the Korean tech giant is bringing its Micro-LED panels to the home in 110-, 99-, and 88-inch iterations, pre-assembled and easy enough to hang yourself. As Digital Trends Senior Editor Caleb Denison points out here, it’s groundbreaking tech, the kind that revels in intense brightness, perfect black levels, and all the features you’ve come to expect from Samsung. ‘Nuff said.

LG teases its Rollable smartphone

LG Rollable smartphone

You traditionally don’t see a lot of smartphones at CES, but with a global pandemic raging on, all bets seem to be off — Samsung is even set to unveil the Galaxy S21 on the conference’s last day. And while LG did reveal details about its latest LG smartphones during its virtual presentation Monday, it was a brief glimpse of the company’s rumored Rollable smartphone at the beginning and end of it that grabbed everyone’s attention. In the video, the device — rumored to launch later this year — smoothly transitioned from a smartphone to a tablet, and vice versa, in a matter of seconds. It was like a Marvel end-credit scene.

Nobi Smart Lamp

Nobi Smart Lamp

Health and wellness tech that safeguards seniors is quickly becoming a major industry as our population ages. The Nobi smart lamp is one such piece of medically-focused tech. A stylish-looking, ceiling-mounted lamp that can be networked throughout the home, the Nobi uses motion-sensors and A.I. to offer several functions, including movement detection, which can trigger lights to come on automatically to reduce disorientation and light the way. It also sports intelligent fall detection, which can notify caregivers if there’s a problem.

ColdSnap rapid freezing appliance

ColdSnap rapid-freezing appliance

Every year there’s at least one “Keurig of…” appliance at CES, and this year is no different. Promising to whip up everything from soft-serve ice cream and frozen yogurt to smoothies and frozen cocktails, the ColdSnap rapid freezing appliance is, indeed, the Keurig of soft-serve ice cream, using pods to serve up made-to-order tasty frozen treats in under 120 seconds.

Petpuls A.I.-powered dog collar

Petpuls A.I.-powered dog collar

If Gary Larson’s Far Side comic is to be believed, a dog’s bark is just them shouting “hey!” at basically everything. Not so, according to Petpuls, an A.I.-driven smart collar launched at CES 2021 that uses voice recognition to decipher up to five different emotions (happy, anxious, angry, sad, and relaxed). Being touted as a Fitbit for your doggo, the Petpuls works with a smartphone app and also tracks your dog’s activity and sleep, so you can make sure your best friend is happy and healthy.

Samsung JetBot 90 A.I.+

Samsung JetBot 90

Each year Samsung moves the needle a little with its robot tech at CES, and this year is no different, with its robot vacuum game getting pretty tight thanks to the JetBot 90 A.I.+. Efficiency is the idea here, with the JetBot using A.I. and lidar to scan the room for even the most minuscule of obstacles, allowing it to identify them so it can steer clear, therefore getting the job done faster. Paired with the Samsung SmarThings app, you can set cleaning timers, no-go zones, and even get a bot’s-eye view of your pets (and spouse?) with the onboard camera. Check out what else Samsung has cooking at this year’s show.

Lenovo ThinkReality AR glasses

Lenovo ThinkReality at CES 2021

If you’d tried to find gear like a sit-stand desk, office chair, or a second monitor when quarantine started, forget about it. And now, as the market has adjusted to us being at home, it’s an understatement to say that the work-from-home segment is booming. Tech-driven solutions like the Lenovo ThinkReality A3 smart glasses are still pretty untested in the wild, but with the promise of projecting up to five virtual desktops with augmented reality, that could mean one pretty mean home office setup, whether you have a physical monitor or not. The ThinkReality glasses “fit like sunglasses,” and will work with Motorola smartphones and PCs via USB-C.

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