CES 2016 Top Five Picks

Every January, tech startups, industry vets, and select insiders descend upon the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas to revel in four days of brain-bending presentations on new technologies. And every January, the Internet blows up as the shiny new gadgets and product concepts flood the blogways and infiltrate our news feeds. To spare you the trouble, we’ve rounded up a short list of innovations that you will definitely want to know about from this year’s event.

EHang 184 Drone Copter
Photo courtesy of PRNewsFoto/EHANG.

Prepare yourselves, because Chinese UAV company EHang has prototyped a self-flying, human-sized drone copter, and it might be the first flying taxi.

Well, probably not. But it’s pretty freaking awesome.

The unmanned drone can carry a single passenger weighing up to 260 pounds for 23 minutes at 60 mph. Passengers need only enter their destination into Google Maps on the drone’s touchscreen, and the vehicle will, in theory, lift off and deliver them to that address all by itself. Of course, a team of conductors can monitor the copter’s action from remote command centers in order to ensure the safety and efficacy of the experience.

Does it sound incredibly unreliable? Absolutely. For example, if anything were to fail mid-flight, the vehicle’s lack of controls would render passengers entirely powerless. The drone is also a total disaster for FAA regulations, but EHang CFO Shang Hsaio indicated that once the prototype receives all necessary permits and approvals, the company hopes to get it to market within a matter of months.

We’re not exactly convinced, and we’re not alone. Even so, this potential flying death trap could actually yield a new type of vehicle capable of providing valuable coast-to-island services or emergency transit to hospitals. Or maybe it will just be a toy for the rich. Either way, we can’t wait to find out.

Polaroid’s Adorable Snap Camera
Photo courtesy of Polaroid.

Welcome to the least tech-y and most marketable product on the list: the Polaroid Snap. Sure to be adored by retrophiles and Millennials alike, this screen-less, spec-less device does exactly what Polaroid does best: take and print pictures instantly.

Users have the option of setting the camera to sepia, black and white, or color, and the Snap embeds the image onto smudge-proof, ink-free ZINK film. Compared to the other gadgets on display at CES, the Snap may be more toy than device, but for only $99 USD we don’t hear anyone complaining.

Later this year, Polaroid will release the Snap+, a nearly identical instant camera with the addition of a screen and the option of connectivity. The company expects to sell this model in the $150-$200 USD range.

L’Oreal’s My UV Patch
Photo courtesy of L’Oreal.

This one is particularly near and dear to my heart, as I am somewhat challenged in the melanin department. For people who love being outside as much as I do, it’s essential—and also a big pain in the ass—to constantly monitor exposure to the sun.

The dermatological masterminds at L’Oreal partnered with MC10, pioneers in flexible electronic design, to create the first-ever stretchable, peel-and-stick skin sensor. At only 50 micrometers thick—around half the breadth of a strand of hair—the heart-shaped wearable assimilates information it receives from the user’s skin and changes color to reflect the individual’s exposure to the sun.

“Previous technologies could only tell users the amount of potential sun exposure they were receiving per hour while wearing a rigid, non-stretchable device,” said Guive Balooch, Global Vice President of L’Oreal’s Technology Incubator. “The key was to design a sensor that was thin, comfortable and virtually weightless so people would actually want to wear it.”

While certainly less flashy than other products to emerge from CES, L’Oreal’s My UV Patch represents a monumental advance in consumer-accessible skin-care technology.

LG’s Crazy Thin 4K OLED TVs
Photo courtesy of PRNewsFoto/LG Electronics USA.

From Sony’s incomparably luminous Backlight Master Drive to Samsung’s modular aspect-ratio slaying concept, this year’s CES had no shortage of contenders for the Next Best Television Ever. But with its bolder, brighter display and insanely slim body, LG’s new 4K OLED line stands out from the crowd.

Not only do the new G6 and EG series boast upgraded color ranges from the signature 2015 models, but they do so on a screen that’s only two millimeters thick. LG proudly calls its ground-breaking design Picture On Glass, highlighting the gorgeous translucent pane that forms the astoundingly thin back-plate of the television. In concept, design, and performance, LG’s new OLEDs will be well worth the price tag.

Garmin’s Varia Vision
Photo courtesy of Business Wire.

Many cyclists rely on computing devices every day for information about directions or performance, but the placement of these devices can be precarious and often demand that users avert their gaze from the road. With the Varia Vision, Garmin’s new in-sight display device, these distractions will no longer be an issue.

Simply mount the device to either side of your sunglasses and benefit from navigational cues, ride data, notifications from your phone, performance alerts, and even radar readings of approaching vehicles—all within your line of sight. The downside? At $400 USD, the Varia Vision likely costs far more than most people will be willing to spend, regardless of how interesting the device may be. The upside? You’ll feel like Robocop.

Nevertheless, even if the Varia Vision weighs in on the pricier side of consumer tech, it will likely pave the way for other, more affordable augmented-reality devices. At least we can hope.

Feature photo courtesy of Flickr user ETC-USC.