CES 2020: Day one Wrap-up

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CES 2020 is officially underway in the sun basked city of Las Vegas, Nevada, and techies from all over the world are gathering there for their annual pilgrimage. If you know about CES, then you know that it is a chance for tech giants around the world to flex their new gadgets and gizmos in front of the whole world and assert their dominance as the leading inventor and manufacturers of electronic goods. For customers, on the other hand, it is that time of the year when they learn about the things they didn’t even know they needed. And at the close of the first day, we can say for sure that this year, companies are really looking to impress us all. From Sony’s concept electric car to Groove X’s cute and cuddly robot Lovot, we have already seen a ton of crazy-awesome things. 

But through all the noise and constant chatter of the exhibition floor, we managed to pick out the top releases of the first day for you. 

Our Top Three Picks

1. One Plus Concept One
2. Intel’s Ghost Canyon
3. AO Atmos Faceware

1. One Plus Concept One

Every time One Plus comes to CES, they come with a new bang. But this year, it seemed like they only had one thing in mind, to let everyone know that they can make cool stuff. Obviously, no one can deny the fact that One Plus has made some gorgeous looking smartphone devices, and they are continually pushing boundaries with their cameras. But they always have something new, something profound whenever they get down to CES. But this year, it seemed they only wanted to flaunt one single cosmetic feature for their new concept device- One Plus One. By saying that it is a concept device, they mean that it is not ready to be shipped, and it very well may not, ever. This only exists for the sake of existing. 

The feature that we are talking about was announced earlier this week- the glass can go opaque to hide the cameras on the back of the phone. And well, it works and yes the phone itself looks really cool. The three cameras on the phone’s back are entirely hidden behind a strip of glass. As soon as you turn the camera app on, the glass strip goes transparent, and you can see the camera holes. And when the camera app is closed, the glass goes opaque again. 

The technology behind it is not groundbreaking. It is a simple electrochromic glass setup with two layers of glass and two conductive layers between them and then finally the actual electrochromic layer in the center. Whenever you pass an electric charge through the conductive layers, the glass changes its opacity. The genuinely remarkable feat about this phone is how thin the glass layer is and how quickly it can change its opacity (0.7 seconds). One Plus said that the feature was inspired by McLaren 720S’s electrochromic roof which is apparent since the concept device was given a papaya orange stitched leather on the back, as a nod to McLaren 720.

 But as cool as it all sounds, it is still hard to justify holding an entire press conference just to flaunt this one feature. One Plus had a different take on that, though. They said that this technology would help them in selling smartphones with more cameras in the future. The glass strip can also go translucent, which works as a filter for bright light photography.

2. Intel’s Ghost Canyon

It wouldn’t be a CES if there were nothing new being showcased for the gamers of the world. As we move toward compact computers and gaming consoles, and because the pace of updates and upgrades being released in the market is so high, the need for easily upgradable consoles or devices has become dire. As game makers keep pushing their boundaries, console and PC manufacturers are trying hard to keep up with them.

Intel is one of them.  In the past, Intel has tried its luck with small modular gaming PCs with its NUC (Next Unit of Computing) series, but they have proven to be a marketing bust. But Intel hit the CES floor this year with a brand new gaming PC called NUC 9 Extreme, also called Ghost Canyon, and it is one of the smallest and most full-featured gaming PCs we have ever seen. 

The first thing that you notice about NUC 9 is its impossibly compact size. It is 5 liters in volume, which is less than a PlayStation and is highly upgradeable. Inside the lid, you find a section that can be called the brain of Ghost Canyon, which you can take out after merely unplugging a couple of cables. The brain is barely the size of a graphics card and contains mostly all the essential elements of your computer. Inside it, you will find L-shaped vapor chamber coolers for Core i5, i7, and i9-9980HK CPU chip. Apart from that, you will also find an 80mm fan and a heat sink to manage the heat. You will also have DDR4 laptop memory slots. Apart from all this, you will also find four USB 3.1 jacks, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, an HDMI port, and much, much more. But the best part about it is that it is all highly upgradeable. You can literally detach and attach chips like a graphics card. Outside the brain, there is barely anything else other than the modified 500W FlexATX power supply. 

While Ghost Canyon will go on the market in March as a barebone system and Intel has promised that it will be able to accommodate upgrades at least for the next two years, it is far from being in the final state. While you can assemble the system with fair ease, and use whatever parts you wish to use, granted that they can fit inside the congest Ghost Canyon cabinet, for the other parts, you will have to rely on Intel to keep making them. Also, the PC is yet to be tested for long hours of gaming. It will be interesting to see if Ghost Canyon’s compact size will eventually downgrade its performance or will it hardly make any difference.

3. AO Atmos Faceware

In light of recent environmental catastrophes, one thing has become apparent; the world is on fire, very literally. The bushfires in Australia and California fires last year have given us all a wake-up call. People living there were not threatened by the flames only; they inhaled a ton of smoke, which can be the cause of respiratory diseases like asthma and even lung cancer. Inhaling so much smoke can also trigger strokes, heart attacks, and many other types of cancers as well. 

And while global warming is not an issue we can fix overnight, immediate means of protection are required. Gas masks are an obvious answer to that, and AO Atmos Faceware wants to be your go-to facemask, but for $350! The company conducted its own study and found that its mask is more capable of keeping the particulate matter out than the previously certified NIOSH masks. The mask is transparent and doesn’t need to be airtight, so as a result, facial hair, sweat, and other such issues that can be a roadblock for facemasks are not bothered for AO Atmos Faceware. 

While nobody can deny that masks such as these are essential for our well being, now more than ever, it is the price tag that has raised many eyebrows. The hefty $350 cost makes AO Atmos Faceware a luxury item, almost a fashion article. People who can afford to buy such masks don’t really need them since most of the harmful air population happens in the congested over populated areas. People living in these areas are the ones who can benefit from such products, but sadly it doesn’t look like they will be able to afford them.    

Some other Noteworthy Releases

1. Samsung’s Odyssey G9 

Right on the show floor for everyone to see, Samsung’s Odyssey G9 has been able to mesmerize pretty much everyone. With a sleek futuristic design, this monitor is 49 inches 1440p display, which covers your entire field of view. This is as good as gaming monitors can get, but that also means that it will have quite a price tag when it rolls out later this year.

2. Samsung Ballie 

Lovot was not the only robot released this CES, Samsung unveiled its BB-2 looking alike robot Ballie. Ballie is hooked to Samsung’s AI and is as close are you are going to get to having a real-life Droid if you are a Star Wars fan. It can control smart home devices, work as your personal assistant, record and capture moments, stream movies and music, and much more.

3. AI Kitty Litter Box

 Every year at CES, some devices are released that completely baffle us and make us ask just one question- Why though?  And thing time around, we found one such release on the very first day- AI Kitty Litter Box. LuluPet, a Taiwan based company, has released a smart cat litter box that analyzes your cat’s excrement. Yes, you heard it right; it analyzes your cat’s excrement. The smart kitty litter box is smart enough to tell you if the cat has gone number one or number two and can even distinguish between the crimes done by two separate cats. It gets better. There is also a camera in the litter box that lets you see a live feed on your smartphone while the crime is being committed. And as allowing you to watch your cat do its business wasn’t strange enough, this litter box can fat-shame it as well, letting you know if it needs to eat less or more or if it’s hydrated or not. Of course, the makers had a lot of questions to answer, most prominent of them being- WHY? To which they said that it is to monitor your cat’s health. Cats are not the most forthcoming pets about their feelings and like to be left alone when they are sick or just under the weather, so it makes at least some sense to build something like this.

So if you want to spy on your cat while it does its thing, you can buy LuluPet’s smarty kitty litter box on Amazon in March for $149.