CES wouldn’t be CES without its usual assortment of wonderful concept designs that will never actually manifest as real-world products, and this year’s event didn’t disappoint.
It’s always fun to see what shows up, with the creative efforts offering a glimpse at how tech outfits have been splashing their R&D cash as they search for the next big hit.
Dazzled by many of the designs that dropped at CES 2022, we’ve pulled together the very best for your enjoyment. These things probably won’t ever go on sale, but they’re sure fun to look at. Check ’em out!
BMW’s color-changing car
In today’s world, changing the color on your car involves a pricey paint job or going the whole way and forking out for a new vehicle (though admittedly that would be a bit extreme). BMW, on the other hand, has created a car that can change its color at the press of a button. Bored of the white finish? Hit the button and bang! Now it’s black. Hit it again and your car’s all gray.
The seemingly magical transition is made possible by E Ink, the same electronic paper technology used in e-readers. But is BMW’s color-changing car just a pointless gimmick or something more useful? Well, the German automaker says the technology could function as an efficient way to control cabin temperature and thereby reducing battery usage, with a white exterior cooling things down on a hot day and a black surface helping to retain heat during colder ones.
In a neat trick, the technology also lets you rapidly flip through the colors to make your car flash, making it easier to spot in a parking lot if you’re having trouble finding it. Activating flash mode could also help to catch an unsuspecting car thief driving along the street oblivious to what’s happening on the outside of the vehicle.
A real all-in-one PC
If your PC is already like an extension of your being and gaming is your thing, then Razer’s wacky, wonderful modular gaming desk could be just the ticket. This awesome concept does what it says on the tin, allowing you to embed tech right into your desk just the way you want it.
The Project Sophia setup features a built-in PC (yes, the PC is built into the desk), an OLED TV, and desk space for 13 separate modules offering everything from high-fidelity audio units and pen tablets to wireless charging pads and even a mug warmer (possibly the most important component).
Perhaps the biggest drawback of Project Sophia is that it creates so many choices that you might never get around to turning the darn thing on.
A transportation system
Hyundai talked a lot at CES 2022 about how it wants to use robot technology to transform society, perhaps not surprising considering the company’s ownership of Boston Dynamics.
One of its ideas is for an integrated and automated transportation system that can pretty much whisk you from your sofa to your destination using several different autonomous vehicles. A video highlighting the concept shows a senior citizen at home climbing into her personal mobility pod which then transports her in style down the outside of her apartment block — think of it as a stairlift with views.
We next see the woman whizzing along the street — still inside her autonomous pod — on her way to link up with the “mother shuttle,” a high-speed platooning shuttle that carries the personal cabins at greater speed.
Hyundai’s vision of the future also includes autonomous mobile medical facilities that can not only respond to emergencies, but also create small hospitals in any location by docking multiple modules. It’s all clever stuff, but the idea that Hyundai will realize its dream within the lifetime of the folks that created it feels like a stretch.
A screen-filled EV
While Hyundai looked far into the future with its transportation concept, automaker Stellantis stayed closer to the present day and presented us with something more familiar. A car. With a steering wheel.
But this is no ordinary motor, as the Chrysler Airflow concept is a sleek and incredibly stylish electric SUV that doesn’t actually exist. Instead, it was unveiled by Stellantis at CES 2022 to highlight the brand’s first all-electric production model, which is set to arrive in three years’ time.
Featuring a gorgeous design inside and out, the Airflow is a highly connected, screen-filled SUV incorporating a driver-assist system called STLA AutoDrive for hands-free driving in certain conditions. It also features a new software architecture called STLA Brain allowing for over-the-air updates while also powering apps for navigation, voice control, e-commerce, and payment services. Some of the features are likely to make it to Chrysler’s upcoming EVs, but the Airflow is, for now, purely a concept design.
An expandable laptop
Now that it’s starting to make some meaningful progress with its foldable phones, Samsung seems to be turning its attention to foldable laptops. We know you’re thinking, “Well, all laptops fold, don’t they?” but Samsung’s Flex Note performs a neat trick whereby folding it out flat transforms it from a 13-inch laptop into a 17-inch display.
Sure, the laptop setup means using a virtual keyboard instead of a physical one, but for folks who want that bigger display for a particular purpose, something like the Flex Note would surely do the job.
While Lenovo tried something like this in 2020 with the ThinkPad X1 Fold, Samsung’s design appears slicker thanks to recent advances in foldable technology, suggesting something close to this design could well become a Samsung production model before too long.
A game-streaming server
If you’re in a house full of gamers all pulling resources from the same Wi-Fi connection and fighting over a limited number of screens, harmonious living may feel like even more of an unattainable concept than some of the items in this article. Well, Alienware has an idea to ease the stress in the form of a powerful server with a few tricks up its sleeve.
Concept Nyx, housed inside a box about the size of a mini-fridge, can comfortably handle multiple gaming sessions taking place under a single roof, with players not only able to seamlessly move between devices during gameplay, but also able to instantly split a TV screen between two different games being played by two different people. It all feels very free and easy, and would surely make for a more amicable existence with housemates if gaming is everyone’s main obsession.
A car with a sofa
As you may have already noticed, CES always features plenty of automaker action, and here’s another rather splendid effort, this time from Cadillac.
Its stunning InnerSpace concept is a kind of updated DeLorean (and then some) that’s roomy enough for a sofa and a cinema screen.
This super-sleek EV of the future is fully autonomous and so does away with the nuisance of a steering wheel, turning the front of the vehicle into an entertainment space for movies, gaming, or whatever else you might want to do while hurtling down the highway at 70 mph. Or perhaps stuck in 50 miles of gridlock.
The roof of this beautiful motor comprises panoramic glass, and this together with the doors all open together when entering or exiting the vehicle — just hope it’s not raining at the time.