A Look at the CES Parade of Innovation, From Wonderful to Weird to Wonky


It’s the tech industry’s equivalent of the Super Bowl. A sprawling hall filled with gadgets and gizmos that offer a glimpse of the future. But rather than a trek to the Nevada desert, we’ll take you to CES and back again, in the COVID-free comfort that is the PYMNTS Saturday Feature.

COVID may have tried to spoil the party but this week’s shortened technology jamboree, better known as CES 2022, still had plenty to say and show in our increasingly digital but still socially distanced world. In just three days, businesses displayed new products and technologies ranging from the urgently useful to … well, the not so much.

Take, for instance, the already notorious example of the finger-nibbling Amagami Ham Ham plush robot. Hindsight is 20/20, and only time will tell whether some of this year’s innovations will prove surprisingly prescient or simply gratuitous.

Everything you could possibly integrate the technology into got the artificial intelligence (AI) treatment. Samsung, for instance, debuted Zamstar, a smart electric guitar that lights up with LED dots where people are supposed to place their fingers — apparently operating under the assumption that beginners can’t type “how to play guitar” into the search bar on YouTube.

Just when you thought the DIY home hair care trend was kaput, L’Oréal announced Monday (Jan. 3) the creation of its Colorsonic smart hair dyeing wand, which mixes dye and developer and applies the solution “via an oscillating nozzle of bristles as they move in a zigzag pattern” aimed at achieving the most even distribution.  

“Our century-long, deep experience and leadership in hair coloration has allowed our researchers, data scientists and Tech engineers to completely revisit and reinvent the hair-coloring experience,” Barbara Lavernos, deputy CEO in charge of research, innovation and technology, said in a statement. “L’Oréal’s BeautyTech leadership allows us to push the boundaries of tech multiplied by science for breakthroughs in more personalized, inclusive and sustainable beauty experiences.” 

Meanwhile, French consumer electronics company Invoxia debuted a smart dog collar tht will hit shelves this summer that gives pet owners biometrics information on the pooche’s such ase heart rate, steps, and activity.  

In fact, biometrics were all over the place, even in the ceiling. 

Alpharetta, Georgia-based smart lighting tech company Sengled showcased its Smart Health Monitoring Light, which tracks sleep and monitors heart rate, body temperature and other vitals through a Bluetooth mesh network. If a consumer has multiple bulbs in the room, the company claims the technology can also sense if someone has fallen and can send for help. 

And speaking of overhead, Kohler showed off its new “Purist Suspend” ceiling-mounted kitchen faucet, operated by a puck-shaped remote that controls activation, temperature, volume and rotation. The device looks like a hose descending from on high. The company also displayed a smartphone-controlled bath filler and drainer that responds to voice commands. 

In a move that could well be putting the astro-cart before the astro-horse, aerospace and national security contractor Sierra Nevada Corp. showed a scaled-down version of its Large Integrated Flexible Environment (LIFE) habitat, an inflatable structure meant to house up to 12 people on the moon or on other planets, one that can be transmitted in its collapsed state onboard a spacecraft. The three-floor structure includes sleeping space, a kitchen, a lab and a garden. Buyers, apparently, are optional. 

Finally, the event saw screens pop up everywhere, including places where they might not add any value. For instance, Lenovo revealed a laptop design that seemed if anything to be inspired by the 2004 Nintendo DS game console, so named for its dual screen. The Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 touts an 8-inch second screen to the right of the keyboard. 

Right where you’d rest your wrist. 

We’re not ergonomics experts, but it seems unlikely that this will be the laptop of the future, that is, if there even are laptops in the future.