Best of CES 2019: The Craziest and Coolest New Technologies That Might Even Matter


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Video: The Best Stuff We Saw at CES 2019


Emily Prapuolenis/The Wall Street Journal

Video: The Best Stuff We Saw at CES 2019

CES is the world’s biggest show-and-tell. Companies bring their quirkiest and most ambitious projects—good, bad or insane. We may never buy any of it, but we go to Vegas to get hints about the future, as WSJ’s David Pierce discovered while wandering the vast convention halls.

Royole FlexPai Foldable Phone

Royole FlexPai Foldable Phone

The foldable-phone craze is coming, and a little-known company called Royole is helping lead the charge. Its FlexPai Android phone has a screen that can fold at any angle: Open it all the way up to use it like a small tablet, fold it closed to use it like a (really chunky) phone. Royole’s focus is on the screens, not the phones, which is why it is also showing off a top hat with a flexible screen on its front. Yes, your lordship, it’s as dapper as it sounds. The phone—which you can already buy, at least if you’re in China—serves as a teaser of electronics to come, when we carry fewer devices that can genuinely do more. royole.com

TCL 8-Series 8K Roku TV

TCL 8-Series 8K Roku TV

Oh, you just got a 4K TV and you think it looks great? Get ready for the TV industry to start trying to prove otherwise. It’s now trumpeting 8K. That’s 7680 x 4320 pixels, equal to four 4K TVs—or 16 of those HDTVs we used to brag about. Though 8K was all over CES 2019, few sets were as intriguing as TCL’s 75-inch-and-larger sets running Roku’s operating system. Models to be launched later in 2019 will have far-field microphones, so you can talk to your TV from across the room. Roku aims to make your couch-potatoing even lazier by finally launching its own entertainment-focused assistant. If it works, you’ll be able to find stuff to watch with your voice. More resolution and less work? That’s some future-proofing! tclusa.com

YubiKey for iPhone

YubiKey for iPhone

The best way to protect your major online accounts these days is with a physical security key. It’s like standard two-factor authentication, but with fewer worst-case scenarios. It also speeds up logging in and other interactions, because it quickly proves to your online services that you aren’t a robot trying to hack the account. Yubico’s YubiKeys are the early favorites, though they haven’t worked well with iPhones. Now Yubico is offering a key that plugs straight into the iPhone’s Lightning port, and the company is working with developers to integrate it into their apps. yubico.com

Bell Nexus Flying Car

Bell Nexus Flying Car

It still seems impossibly far-fetched to imagine a world in which your primary commuter vehicle flies instead of drives. Helicopter manufacturer Bell says it’s coming sooner than you think. Its unveiled Nexus Air Taxi, which uses six rotors to fly as many as four passengers plus a pilot and can travel as many as 150 miles at 150 miles an hour. Weighing 6,000 pounds, it’s really more plane than drone. You probably wouldn’t own one yourself: Bell imagines you’d summon it when you need it. That’s why it’s forging a partnership with Uber, with a goal to get you airborne by the mid-2020s. bellflight.com

Lynq Smart Compass

Lynq Smart Compass

Being unreachable for a few hours in a remote location with no cell reception while hiking or skiing is good for the soul. But the good vanishes when someone gets lost or injured. Lynq is a no-frills digital compass that uses GPS and a wireless technology called LoRa to help members of a group find one another without the aid of cell service. The device clips onto clothes or a backpack like a carabiner. You can click through the people in your group to see which direction they’re in, and how far away they are in feet—or miles. Users can also set boundaries and get an alert on the device when someone has wandered off, or create a home base where everyone can plan to meet. Lynq costs $209 for a two-pack and is expected to start shipping this summer. lynqme.com

Tech giant to also unveil its 10th anniversary flagship phones at events in San Francisco and London

Elecpro US:E Smart Lock

Elecpro US:E Smart Lock

It was bound to happen: Somebody invented a deadbolt that you can open just by looking at it. The new smart lock, from a Chinese company called Elecpro, comes with a built-in camera and uses 3-D facial recognition to determine it’s really you trying to get in. The company says that photos and videos won’t work on the lock. Administrators can scan the faces of up to 100 approved people, but the lock can also be accessed through a smartphone, a key fob and a regular key. If you’re not into smiling for the camera, Elecpro also offers a fingerprint-reader door lock. elecpro.com

LG Signature OLED TV R

LG Signature OLED TV R

Imagine if, instead of hanging a TV on your wall, you could just roll it up like a newspaper and stash it when “The Bachelor” was over. That’s exactly what LG’s Signature OLED TV R can do: It disappears into its speaker-embedded base at the press of a button. You can even roll the screen out partway and use it as an entertainment control panel. The TV industry has lately been considering what your set should do and look like when it isn’t playing anything, and LG’s idea—a recent prototype that LG says will go on sale in 2019—might be the best one yet. Maybe, when your TV isn’t on, it should just go away. lg.com

Lexon Oblio Wireless Charging Station

Lexon Oblio Wireless Charging Station

The Oblio wireless charger looks like an elegant little vase that might hold freshly cut flowers. Instead, you drop your smartphone in it for a charge. As a side service, it even has a built-in sanitizer that uses ultraviolet rays to kill germs. There was a time when the idea of a charger obscuring a phone’s screen would have seemed absurd—”What if I miss something?”—but now that we’re more conscious about what nonstop notifications are doing to us, it sounds like a welcome break. lexon-design.com

Segway-Ninebot Shared Scooter Model Max

Segway-Ninebot Shared Scooter Model Max

When those dockless, shareable scooters hit city streets all over the world, they all had the same problem: They kept breaking. Users didn’t take care of them, and exposing scooters to the elements turned out to be a losing battle. So Segway-Ninebot—the maker of scooters for Bird, Lime and other companies—decided to beef things up for its 2019 model. This Model Max has a longer-lasting, faster-charging battery and a design that can actually weather the weather. Its new tires are meant to make the ride itself a little smoother and safer. No word yet on how well the new model takes being dumped in lakes or flung into the street, however. ninebot.cn


Samsung

MicroLED is better looking, more efficient and more versatile than any previous display technology. Now all Samsung, Sony, LG and others have to do is figure out how to manufacture it affordably

Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot

Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot

You could hardly turn a corner at CES without hearing someone talk about 5G—fast? faster? super-duper fast?—and Netgear is one of the companies looking to get people on the new networks as soon as possible. Its Qualcomm-powered Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot looks like other hotspots, but can take AT&T’s higher-frequency 5G signals and translate them into something your devices can understand and use. Of course, for that to happen, you’ll have to be somewhere AT&T has 5G coverage, and that isn’t likely to be very many places anytime soon. netgear.com

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Lenovo Smart Clock

Lenovo Smart Clock

Lots of tech companies want to put a virtual assistant on your bedside table. Kudos to Lenovo for doing it in the least creepy way. The $80 Google Assistant-powered Smart Clock, due this spring, doesn’t have a camera or a YouTube app and it won’t let someone video chat with you in the middle of the night. It’s meant for things like turning the lights on in the morning or reading you bedtime stories at night. It has a USB port, too, so you can charge your devices right from your clock. Just make sure you aren’t prone to calling out “OK Google” in your sleep, or you might be in trouble. lenovo.com

As Apple builds the content side of its business, it’s taking big steps toward making sure more people can watch that content. Samsung announced an Apple iTunes app designed to play shows on Samsung Smart TVs without the need for an Apple TV box. Samsung and other TV makers, including Sony, Vizio and LG, also said they would support Apple’s AirPlay 2, the technology that allows you to wirelessly beam content from your phone or tablet to another screen. That means your phone can be your remote control, and Apple can be your content provider, even on TVs from another company. It also probably means Apple’s won’t be making a TV of its own. apple.com/airplay

Hyundai Elevate Walking Car

Hyundai Elevate Walking Car

If you ever see something like Hyundai’s Elevate concept car coming your way, you’re probably going to want to run. Don’t, though, because odds are it just wants to help. Hyundai envisions this vehicle—which is like a car with wheel-tipped legs, instead of just dumb ol’ wheels—as a first responder in disaster situations. It can climb over rough terrain, jump over walls 5 feet high, then go right back to driving normally when it’s back on smooth pavement. And no, you aren’t crazy if you read all that and thought, “Sounds like a Transformer.” Somebody call Michael Bay! hyundai.com/worldwide

Wearables and other inexpensive products and services can now extract detailed information about our bodies—so how will their makers handle all that data?

GE Profile Kitchen Hub

GE Profile Kitchen Hub

You’re in the kitchen, you’ve got raw chicken on your hands, and you need to scroll on your iPad to see what’s next in your recipe. That’s a problem that needs solving. The GE Appliances kitchen hub with built-in Google Assistant feels like a step in the right direction. With a 27-inch screen and its own ventilation system, the hub was designed to replace a standard cooktop ventilation hood. You can display a recipe from an app and ask Google to go to the next step, no touching necessary. You can also video-call Mom to ask if you’re making her bananas foster right, take a picture of your meal with the built-in camera or watch Netflix while you cook. geappliances.com

The New Impossible Burger


Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The New Impossible Burger

The team at Impossible Foods has an audacious goal: to replace all animals in the food supply with its plant-based meat products by 2035. At CES, the company introduced the second version of its beef substitute—and pointed out that cows aren’t able to upgrade quite as quickly. It said its offering, which will be rolled out over the next few weeks, was both better-tasting and richer in nutrients. We tried Impossible empanadas, meatballs, burgers and tacos, and all were delicious, much closer to the texture and sizzle of real meat. And yet thoroughly meatless. impossiblefoods.com

LiFiMax Wireless Access Point by Oledcomm

LiFiMax Wireless Access Point by Oledcomm

LiFi technology relies on super-fast pulsing light instead of radio frequency to provide a high-speed network. Oledcomm’s LiFiMax is about the size of a smoke alarm. Affixed to the ceiling, it serves as an access point for as many as 16 users who connect using USB dongles. There’s enough refracting light around the covered area that you don’t have to worry about shadows getting in the way, but because light can’t go through walls, the network can only be accessed from the room the access point is in. On the bright side, says the company, this is a built-in, and guaranteed, security feature. oledcomm.net

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Samsung 75-Inch MicroLED 4K TV

Samsung 75-Inch MicroLED 4K TV

MicroLED is the TV technology of the future. It looks as vibrant and high-contrast as OLED, without its degradation or burn-in issues. It’s more efficient and versatile, and could be useful for screens on everything from smartwatches to billboards. While Samsung’s trade-show marvel known as The Wall has grown in size from 146 inches to 219 inches, the company is now showing a 75-inch model it says will actually be on sale sometime in 2019. What will it cost? That’s anyone’s guess right now, but the right answer is almost certainly “too much.” Still, it’s a big step toward this cool new tech actually appearing in your living room. samsung.com

Starkey Livio AI Smart Hearing Aid

Starkey Livio AI Smart Hearing Aid

Hearing aids aren’t exactly known for their innovation in technology and product design. But Starkey Hearing’s new Livio AI is both better-designed and more powerful than your average hearing aid. It uses integrated sensors to reduce unwanted ambient sound and enhance speech, so you hear only what you want. The device itself came out this fall, but Starkey just released features that allow the Livio hearing aid to measure heart rate and detect falls. Your ears are a great place for tracking all sorts of vital data, and Starkey is putting that capability inside a gadget millions of people already need. starkey.com

Spigen Wireless Charging Case Powered by Ossia

Spigen Wireless Charging Case Powered by Ossia

Every year we reserve a spot on our CES list for advancements in over-the-air wireless charging because of its potential to so dramatically change how we use our gadgets. This year, wireless-power veteran Ossia teamed up with phone-accessory maker Spigen on a wirelessly powered smartphone case. Place the big Ossia Cota wireless power transmitter in the corner of the room and put your phone in the Spigen case. The phone will charge, according to these companies—no pads or plugs needed. The catch? It is just a proof of concept now; the companies are aiming to release it by 2020. ossia.com

Safe Zone Gunfire Detector

Safe Zone Gunfire Detector

If you’re in a building with an active shooter, you might be able to hear gunfire but you might not know where it’s coming from. With its gunfire detection system, the startup Safe Zone aims to reduce the time it takes personnel and authorities to locate a shooter. The small, triangular devices, intended for schools and offices, can be attached in the corners of rooms or hallways, each covering about 9,000 cubic feet of space. The detectors capture infrared and acoustic signatures which get analyzed in the cloud. If a gun is fired, an app will display the location and number of the shots—even analysis of the type of weapon being used—then offer to call 911. When the detectors go on sale in February, they’ll cost $150 a piece. safezonetech.com

Moving a few pounds of stuff to people turns out to be much easier than getting large, impatient and litigious human beings to their destinations

Yolk Solar Cow Battery Station

Yolk Solar Cow Battery Station

The Solar Cow system is simple: A large solar panel charges a large battery that charges a number of detachable portable batteries, designed to look like udders hanging off the underside of the artificial beast. Its maker Yolk is a South Korean startup aimed at developing renewable-energy products while also addressing humanitarian needs. It hopes to install these cows at schools, particularly in Africa, to encourage families to allow their children to come to the classroom. Often, family members must travel many hours, several times a week, to a charging shop to get juice for their phones. Yolk says each portable battery, which it calls Power Milk—because cow!—contains enough electricity to meet most of an average household’s electricity needs. yolkstation.com

Asus ROG Mothership Gaming Laptop

Asus ROG Mothership Gaming Laptop

So you want to play Fortnite all the time, but you demand the highest-performance settings—even when you’re at Starbucks? Here’s your answer: The ROG Mothership from Asus, due out in early 2019, is a powerful gaming PC with a detachable keyboard and kickstand. It basically looks like a glowing, super-jacked Microsoft Surface Pro. Sure, it weighs 10 pounds, but that’s a fair trade for a blisteringly fast processor, beefy GPU and as much as 64 gigs of RAM. Your fellow coffee-shop customers are bound to give you funny looks but don’t worry, they’re just jealous of all the emotes you’ve earned. asus.com/ROG-Republic-Of-Gamers

Opté Precision Skin-Care System by Procter & Gamble

Opté Precision Skin-Care System by Procter & Gamble

Think of Opté’s beauty wand—due sometime in 2020—as one of the first high-tech makeup tools. It uses blue LED lights and a camera to detect age spots and other hyperpigmentation, places where your skin needs to be evened out. Then the tiny inkjet nozzles in its built-in micro printer release droplets of serum. The coverage is subtle yet effective, and the serum includes moisturizer so it’s treating spots while hiding them. opteskin.com

D-Link 5G Enhanced Gateway

D-Link 5G Enhanced Gateway

Unlike 4G, the new wave of wireless technology known as 5G is actually a collection of upgrades, and not all of them are mobile. An internet provider known for cable or fiber might pitch you on 5G home broadband, which is why D-Link developed the DWR-2010 5G Enhanced Gateway (yep, new technology, same inscrutable names). Expected to come to market in the second half of 2019, the router takes a 5G wireless signal and turns it into Wi-Fi you can use at home with all your gadgets. And going wireless might even be a speed boost: D-Link is boasting download speeds as much as 40 times faster than current average U.S. fixed broadband speeds. Plus the router comes with gold accents, though it’s still too alien-machine ugly to earn a place on your mantle. d-link.com

KettlebellConnect Weight by Jaxjox

KettlebellConnect Weight by Jaxjox

A smart weightlifting tool? That might sound like an oxymoron but the stacking system inside the Jaxjox kettlebell is quite clever. There’s a screen on the base where you select weight—6-pound increments from 12 to 42 pounds. At the max setting, you get seven stacked weights. At the lowest, it leaves all but its base weight on the ground. There’s an accelerometer inside to track your reps. And it connects to an app via Bluetooth, to tell you if you’re lifting too slowly or too quickly. Now shipping, it costs $349. jaxjox.com

Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant desperately want to help you do your routine—but it takes too much programming and there are still too many holes



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