USA TODAY US Edition
Pandemic changes the look of tech
The COVID-19 pandemic has touched every part of our lives, and plans surrounding CES 2021 were no different.
But it wasn’t just show schedules and venues disrupted by the outbreak. The products showcased during the big tech event were influenced by our new normal during the pandemic.
At CES, gadget makers pulled out everything from smart masks to wearable air purifiers, not to mention multiple devices aimed at making both the air and water cleaner.
Here’s a look at all the CES devices designed to keep you safer during the pandemic.
Smart masks are here
The AirPop Active+ is a smart mask featuring a Halo sensor that its creators claim measures the user’s breathing data and the air quality of their surroundings. The sensor in the mask works together with a smartphone app to track breathing data and the pollutants blocked by the mask filter. The mask will be available at select retailers this year for $149.99.
Maskfone takes it a step further, doubling as both a mask and a hands-free headset of sorts. The masks features a medical grade N95 filter and built-in wireless earbuds and microphone so users can take calls hands-free while wearing the mask. There also are hidden controls on the mask to adjust volume or play music. It will be available at retailers including Target and Amazon starting in February for $49.99.
Meanwhile, electronics giant LG is working on a PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier, which has two filters that capture up to 99.95% of viruses, bacteria and allergens from entering the respiratory system. The smart mask, which has a rechargeable battery for 2 to 8 hours of wear, also adjusts its two fans to the user’s breathing.
There’s no date for release in the U.S., but LG is testing the mask to meet certain standards. “It’s definitely protection for the wearer and, to some extent, to the people around you,” said Dan Hayes, who oversees emerging products at LG USA.
“We are trying to give consumers peace of mind and some comfort that when they leave their house they have an option for purified air around them.”
Making your air and water cleaner
Perhaps best known for snazzy OLED TVs and home appliances, LG has been making air-purification products for years.
“I think what’s happened this year, because we are spending so much time in our homes, and so much time online, consumers now have become more educated about the benefits of air purification,” said Dan Hayes, who oversees emerging products at LG USA.
Already on the market is PuriCare Mini ($199.99), a portable air filter with a rechargeable battery that filters viruses, bacteria and allergens from around you. Quiet and light (just more than one pound), the PuriCare can clean 50% of the air inside a car in 10 minutes, LG says.
Beyond LG, the makers of the air purifier Luft Duo claim their device can shorten the lifespan of the airborne coronavirus. The portable air purifier can cover up to a 240-square-foot space, using a combination of photocatalytic technology and UVA LED to break down pollutants.
There’s also CleanAirZone, an air purifier that uses a biology-based process instead of filters to keep air clean. Its creators claim the device can capture pollutants in the air as well as viruses including COVID-19.
Keeping offices and gadgets clean, too
Mobile computing device maker Targus revealed two products aimed at keeping germs off your devices. Its latest backpack features an “antimicrobial infused protective finish on key touchpoints to prevent the growth of microorganisms.” The company also unveiled a UV-C LED Disinfection Light that will automatically emit UV-C lighting for five minutes every hour to disinfect your office space.
For larger spaces, the LG CLOi autonomous robot in development by the electronics company will use UV-C light to disinfect high-traffic, high-touch areas. LG envisions the robot being used in commercial spaces such as corporate, retail, and restaurants. It’s scheduled to launch soon.
Tracking your health with a button
Since the pandemic began, more of us have paid closer attention to our health. It’s something you can soon track with a wearable BioButton. The FDA-cleared FDA-approved device, disposable after about 90 days of use, will continuously measure temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate with clinical accuracy, says maker BioIntelliSense. It’s worn on your upper left chest, and an app will deliver notifications confirming you’re “Cleared” or “Not Cleared” to entry at work or a doctor’s office, for example.