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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Tech talk: gadgets that took top honours at the CES Innovation Awards 

The Innovation Awards at the Consumer Electronics Show cover the full gamut of tech – from 3D printing and gaming to headphones and home appliances. Here are some of the winning concepts we're coveting

Buddy robot. Courtesy Blue Frog Robotics
Buddy robot. Courtesy Blue Frog Robotics

The friendly robot

Standing 56 centimetres high and fully mobile, Buddy is part-personal assistant (he’ll remind you of important events in your agenda or suggest recipes for dinner); part-security system (he’ll patrol your home while you’re away, looking out for intruders, as well as potential fires and floods); part-entertainer (he’ll play your favourite song, amuse the kids, and help you communicate with loved ones); and a hub that centralises various functions within your home, from lights and thermostats to wearables. Plus, he’s pretty cute. Enough said?

Multifaceted sound system

Courtesy Bang & Olufsen
Courtesy Bang & Olufsen

A winner in the High Performance Home Audio/Video category, Bang & Olufsen’s BeoSound Shape sound system consists of a series of hexagonal tiles that function either as speakers, amplifiers or acoustic dampers. Their shape means they can be arranged in countless configurations. “The hexagon is one of nature’s favoured forms, seen in anything from snowflakes to honeycombs, and makes perfect sense in repetitive and expanding structures. Every outcome is unique and there is a sense of natural beauty in these infinite variations,” says designer Øivind Alexander Slaatto. The tiles are covered in a wool fabric by Danish textiles brand Kvadrat, and come in brown, green, pink or dark blue.

Smart refrigerators

Courtesy Samsung
Courtesy Samsung

Samsung unveiled the next generation of its award-winning Family Hub refrigerators at CES. With the addition of Bixby voice control and its integration with Samsung’s SmartThings IoT ecosystem, the Family Hub is bringing new levels of ease and connectivity into the kitchen. Yes, it’s where you’ll store your meat and veg, but it’ll also act as a centre for food management, and help you organise and connect with the rest of the family. One of the fridge doors features an LED touchscreen, where you can create shopping lists and keep track of expiry notifications. Three interior cameras allow you to look inside your fridge from wherever you are – and images of items that need to be replenished can be immediately added to the Shopping List feature. New for 2018, the Hub’s Meal Planner takes food management to a more personalised level by providing recipes for the family based on food preferences, dietary restrictions and food expiration dates. There’s also a new Deals app that gives users the ability to find great bargains and save them directly to the Shopping List. You can also leave a note on the White Board to remind the kids to clean their rooms after school, see who’s at the front door, adjust the thermostat, or check on a sleeping baby in the next room.

A companion for the elderly

Courtesy Intuition Robotics
Courtesy Intuition Robotics

A winner in the Smart Home category, ElliQ is an AI-driven active ageing companion – or “proactive social robot”, which encourages the elderly to remain engaged. Having developed an understanding of the user’s tastes, preferences and habits, the device will proactively suggest and connect them to digital content such as TED talks, music or audiobooks. It will also recommend activities in the physical world, such as taking a walk after watching television for a prolonged period of time; and remind users to keep appointments or take medications on time. Easy and intuitive to use, ElliQ is a collaboration between a company called Intuition Robotics and the famed industrial designer Yves Béhar’s Fuseproject studio. “The idea of having a robot companion is quite dystopian, especially for older generations. Through years of research, we were able to develop a design language and user experience that feels natural, with subtle expressions to develop a unique bond between ElliQ and its owner. ElliQ could never replace human interaction, but it can be an important motivating factor in keeping older adults healthy and active when living alone,” says Béhar.

Motoring made intelligent

Adam Workman / The National
Adam Workman / The National

Driverless and tech-assisted vehicles emerged as the leading trend at CES this year, but it was the 2018 Nissan Leaf that won top honours in the Innovation Awards’ Vehicle Intelligence and Self-driving Technology category. One of the car’s most notable features is a level 2 autonomous technology entitled ProPilot – essentially a combination of lane-keeping assist and adaptive/intelligent cruise control. The car will go on sale in the UAE for the first time later this year, following on from a link-up with Expo 2020, which in November announced Nissan as its official automotive partner. The new Leaf is expected to form a notable part of about 1,000 vehicles that will be provided for the event.