“Necessity is the mother of invention,” as the saying goes.
The 2021 Consumer Electronics Show has been running this past week, showing the latest developments in computers, TVs, phones, robots, and all that other fun stuff that people would usually get to see and interact with in person. The operative word there is “usually,” as for the obvious reason, there was no physical convention this year. All of the keynote presentations were held via a mildly confusing network of Zoom calls for journalists to dial into. Considering the overt cause of this virtual convention, that being our old “friend” COVID-19, it’s not especially surprising that there’d be more than a few pandemic-influenced gadgets premiering at the show.
A major category of COVID-compliant gadgets was “smart masks,” because if we have to be wearing these things whenever we leave the house, they should at least do some cool stuff. AirPop presented the Active+ Halo mask, with a special digital filter that can monitor your breathing, keep you up to date on the air quality around you, and remind you to switch the filter out. Maskfone’s eponymous smart mask took things in a more entertainment-centric direction, creating a mask with built in earbuds and a microphone, as well as replaceable filters. Gaming PC hardware developer Razer had a smart mask of their own, tentatively dubbed Project Hazel, though they may have gotten a little carried away with it; it’s a clear mask that protects your face while allowing others to see your mouth, which is sensible, but it also features voice amplifiers and glowing LED lights. It wouldn’t be a Razer product without the LEDs, I guess.
Marketing gimmick or actually useful? You decide. https://t.co/W8CR1OdjL8
— FutureShift (@futureshift) January 15, 2021
In addition to smart masks, other developers showed concepts for new generation air purifiers, various touch-free appliances like heat-sensing doorbells, and even medical tech, like an electronic patch that monitors vitals for signs of COVID. Obviously, I hope in my heart that all of these devices are rendered unnecessary in the near future, but if we have to keep living like this, at least we’ll have the aid of quality tech.