The best (and weirdest) tech coming in 2023

Smell plays an important role in our limbic systems that affect emotions and behavior. Therefore, adding scent to a virtual retail exhibit or therapeutic VR environment can change the way people respond to it, said OVR chief and co-founder Aaron Wisniewski. For example, hospitals are testing OVR’s technology to help burn victims manage pain. It also courts major retailers to add fragrance to home purchases or fancy marketing displays.

Adding scent to a VR environment can change the way people react to it.

Adding scent to a VR environment can change the way people react to it.Credit:isstock

Of course there are limits. Persistent smells tend to mix, so OVR needs to make its puffs as short and distinct as possible, Chief Business Officer Chris Scott said. And some smells don’t enhance the experience – does anyone want to smell blood in a shooting game?

We tried out OVR’s headset accessories to see what smell can contribute to a VR romp. The virtual rose we picked from the virtual ground smelled floral on one end and peaty on the other. A seashore smelled of lavender. A waterfall was oddly vanilla. OVR’s Scent Verse isn’t elegant, but it’s the first iteration of something that might one day seem as natural as the smell of grass in a park.

Let your Samsung TV check you out

Be honest: Sometimes making a successful appointment with the doctor feels like winning the lottery. To help, Samsung – yes, that’s Samsung – is trying to make it a little easier to get hold of medical expertise right now.

As usual, the company emerged with a bevy of flashy TVs in tow, all of which can use a built-in Samsung telemedicine app to spell out symptoms and connect with a “relevant” doctor. (However, the camera is not built-in, you have to buy one separately.) The best part? Samsung claims you can usually reach a doctor in around 60 seconds, where you can unpack your concerns and complete a handful of remote exams.

Alana Gomez-Solis, communications and content specialist at Samsung Electronics America, at the CES event where the company showcased its integrated telemedicine app.

Alana Gomez-Solis, communications and content specialist at Samsung Electronics America, at the CES event where the company showcased its integrated telemedicine app.Credit:Bloomberg

Once that’s done, the company says you’ll have the option to schedule a follow-up appointment and even have a prescription filled remotely. If that all sounds a little too convenient to be true, you might be right — as pretty as they are, none of Samsung’s flashy TVs here in Las Vegas were connected to doctors’ offices or hospitals.

But what if you’d rather have yourself checked through?


If you’ve already bought a compatible camera, a new health-tracking app will use it to look at your face and measure vital signs like heart rate, breaths per minute, and blood oxygen saturation. This feature relies on a process called remote photoplethysmography, where the software tracks tiny changes in color on your face as you breathe, and it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Still, there’s at least one possible catch here: This technology may not work equally well for everyone.

Analyze your urine at home

Your urine contains all sorts of clues about your health, but it usually takes a visit to the doctor to decipher them. Withings, a “connected healthcare company” that makes smart scales and watches, is trying to solve this problem with a sensor in your toilet.

The device, called U-SCAN, measures the composition of your urine and delivers insights to an app on your phone. Two initial consumer versions, soon to be available in Europe, monitor nutrition and the menstrual cycle, respectively, by tracking components such as vitamin C and hormone levels. The sensor looks like a palm-sized white disk that sits under the front rim of the toilet bowl. (If you pee standing up, you’ll need to make some adjustments.) The company advertises “replaceable analysis cartridges,” so some rubber gloves might come in handy.

A stand worker, right, is interviewed about U-SCAN, a

A stand worker, right, is interviewed about U-SCAN, a “health lab” that sits in every toilet bowl.Credit:AP

Beyond home use, the device may also prove useful for healthcare professionals monitoring patients and conducting research. According to Withings, it can even help in the early detection of bladder and ovarian cancer.

For obvious reasons, we didn’t test this one on the show floor. But with the ubiquity of health tracking and sensors on your wrist, your finger, and your bedside table, your toilet seems like the inevitable next frontier that companies will tout.

Start a party from your fridge

New fridges usually make for some of the least interesting reveals at CES unless, like LG’s MoodUp fridge, they’re specifically designed to start a party.

On the one hand, it changes color as the mood takes you – not to mention the next kitchen renovation. Thanks to its LED-laden door panels and a handy smartphone app, owners can choose from 23 color options for the fridge’s top half and 19 for the bottom. (Don’t worry if the idea of ​​all that mixing and matching scares you, you can launch a preloaded theme instead.)

Light up your party with LG's MoodUp fridge.

Light up your party with LG’s MoodUp fridge. Credit:AP

As if that wasn’t enough, the MoodUp fridge also includes a built-in Bluetooth speaker to play audio from nearby connected devices. Of course, it wouldn’t be a party without a light show, so the fridge’s LED panels can be set to change color to the rhythm of what’s being played through the speaker.

It all might seem like silly fun, and on some level it is – but there are really some practical benefits on offer here. Our favourite: The fridge door panels flash to let you know when they’re not fully closed.

Ease Your Anxiety With A Pillow That “Breathes”

Walking around CES looking for something new and valuable can be pretty stressful. Luckily, Japanese robotics company Yukai Engineering helped take the edge off by letting us snuggle with a soft, burly prototype pillow that “breathes” called Fufuly.

Fufuly, a heavy pillow that

Fufuly, a heavy pillow that “breathes”.Credit:Washington Post photo by Chris Velazco

Alright, it obviously doesn’t really breathe – instead the pillow subtly expands and contracts to make it feel like it is. As the pillow transitions from its normal “breathing” state into a slower, deeper pattern during snuggling, the idea goes, your body will begin to do the same. And as you sink into that relaxed rhythm, your stress can begin to melt away.

So how does it feel? If we’re being honest, it was really just a little comforting, especially after a long day on the Las Vegas Strip. (Of course, your mileage may vary.)

If this sounds familiar, that’s because the Japanese company that created Fufuly also created Amagami Ham Ham, the finger-gnawing cat robot we found so adorable at last year’s show. And with any luck, Fufuly will become a real product just like its predecessor – since its launch, Yukai Engineering says it has sold about 30,000 nibbling animal robots in Japan.

Be fully present in the metaverse

Speaking about the challenges of fully representing a person’s body in virtual spaces, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg once remarked that “the legs are tough.” It turns out not everyone seems to think so.

The solution, at least according to a Panasonic subsidiary called Shiftall, is a series of wireless sensors that attach to your chest, knees, hips and ankles and relay motion data to compatible Steam VR games running on a PC. The result: a way to make your in-game avatar move just like you, provided you’re willing to shell out $349 ($517).

The Shiftall booth at CES, where the Panasonic subsidiary aims to move your in-game avatar the way you do.

The Shiftall booth at CES, where the Panasonic subsidiary aims to move your in-game avatar the way you do.Credit:AP

It turns out these sensors are just the beginning. Shiftall also makes a product called Mutalk, a rounded white box with a built-in microphone that straps over your mouth and prevents bystanders from hearing you chat with people in games and virtual rooms.

It looks, well, pretty ridiculous. But as the name suggests, it’s surprisingly good at deadening loud noises like screams, meaning wearers can swear up a storm after losing a round in Fortnite — or try a little scream therapy — without raising too many eyebrows. (Seriously, Shiftall CEO Takuma Iwasa yelled in our faces and we barely heard anything. It was pretty enjoyable, all things considered.)

The Washington Post

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Brian Lowry

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