January 21, 2021

CES 2021 Takeaways, Part 2

by Robert Acquaotta, SVP Integrated Media

I knew going into CES 2021 last week that there would obviously be a focus on health and hygiene.  But it struck me, thinking about all the product categories across the entire show, that many could be aggregated into a much broader category (given the global pandemic) that I will call “The Pandemic Lifestyle”.  This encompasses everything from Hygiene, Fitness and Well-being to Entertainment, which if you have ever attended CES, you know it’s a significant portion of the show.  The Pandemic Lifestyle is exemplified by products like the indulgent and soothing Kohler Stillness Bath, the wine-pouring Samsung Bot Handy and the Keurig-like ColdSnap Ice Cream Maker (all pictured above), products that help us cope with our current condition.  So, welcome to Part 2, my final wrap-up on CES; all things Pandemic Lifestyle.

Taking hygiene to a whole new level

Let’s start with things that help us with general hygiene to feel clean, and products to keep our air and surfaces clean and/or sanitized.  Kohler exhibited numerous touchless products that are more compelling than ever, Panasonic showed off a home air purification system and LG had Robots (every year someone has robots):

  • Kohler – touchless faucets have become common in public restrooms. Kohler brings the technology home, not only with touchless faucets, but toilets as well.  Together with voice-activated technology that starts and adjusts your shower, the notion is that consumers can use a bathroom space without having to touch any of the products.

  • Panasonic’s Cosmos Healthy Home System - detects and removes volatile organic compounds that contaminate the air in your home. The pandemic has certainly increased our awareness of indoor air quality, and though this is not a system to prevent transmission of the virus, it will address concerns of indoor air quality’s link to dramatic increases in pediatric asthma rates and other conditions.

  • LG’s CLOi UV-C robot - can roam hotel rooms, conference centers, health clubs and other high-touch areas to bathe contents with disinfecting Ultraviolet-C rays.

The home health club

Peloton was ahead of its time when it first appeared at CES in 2017.  Its pandemic success (along with Mirror and all of those fitness apps) makes it easier to see the potential of other home fitness solutions.  A few examples from this year’s show:

  • Bowflex Max Trainer M9 – is a compact, elliptical Cardio machine designed for low-impact, high-intensity training. It comes complete with Bowflex’s JRNY (pronounced “journey”,) a personalized video coaching experience.  Like competitors, JRNY is offered as a monthly subscription-based streaming fitness service.  Viewed on the large built-in HD screen, your JRNY should prove to be an engaging one.

  • YogiFi Smart Yoga Mat – a CES 2020 Innovation Award Winner, YogiFi arrives at CES this year as a full-fledged, available-for-purchase-now, real live product. The app lets you take classes from an instructor while the mat, filled with sensors, provides feedback on your “downward dog”.

With no in-person TV sensory overload, it’s the little things

TVs are traditionally the most visible and dazzling things on display at CES.  Samsung and LG’s grand entryways to their exhibits typically consist of elaborate wallscapes covered from floor to as high as the eyes can see with screens running engrossing video.  For 2021?  Not so much.  I see no reason to again talk about 8k, or OLED vs. mini-LED vs. micro-LED without being able to have the in-person sensory experience with these products.  Its just not the same…

But its not CES unless we talk about something TV.  So first, how about that LG redesigned WebOS?  It’s now organized for faster access to the users’ most frequently used apps.  It provides content discovery with recommendations based on user preferences and viewing history and supports new voice commands for both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.  Plus, in addition to dedicated buttons on the remote for Netflix and Amazon Prime, they have added Disney+.

And speaking of remotes – how about that “innovative” Samsung solar remote?  I know what you’re thinking: we’ve had solar calculators since the late ‘70’s/early ‘80’s - what’s so innovative?  Well, because – solar remotes! 

End of Life planning?  A piece of Cake

Having been personally and profoundly impacted by the death of my wife at the onset of the pandemic, I was literally stopped in my tracks by Cake.  Starting with the name - Cake? For an End of Life web offering? 

But digging in a little, it starts to make sense.  The interface makes it easy for users of all ages to input information and keep all their related estate materials (life insurance, wills, medical directives, funeral instructions) in one place.  The idea is to free loved ones up from the additional stress of trying to determine what your end-of-life intentions were amidst the emotional and confusion that surround a death.  In so doing, they can focus on celebrating and honoring life.  Hence, Cake.  It is a painful reality to have to include this as a Pandemic Lifestyle product, but here we are.  

CES is part of my personal ritual to kick off the year, an exciting week that fills me with hope and optimism for ensuing months.  In that regard, this virtual version of CES was no different.  My sincere wishes to everyone reading this for good health for you, your family and loved ones, and peace and prosperity in the year ahead.  Until next year…

 

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