Technology

Looking at CES 2024: Startups and A.I. Take Center Stage

AR glasses, smart collars for pets, A.I. toilets, and a bathroom rental app are among the innovations consumers are invited to ooh and aah over at this year's Consumer Electronics Show.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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BY ALICIA DONIGER@ALICIADONIGER

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2024) kicks off this week in Las Vegas. The tech conference, once a product showcase for giants like Sony and Samsung, has morphed into a hub for small tech companies over the past several years. 

Since the pandemic forced companies to stage virtual launch events, large companies have followed Apple's lead, saving big product reveals for private, in-house showcases. This shift effectively opened the popular tech conference up to startups. For smaller, newer companies, shows like CES are prime opportunities to mingle with distributors and manufacturers and bend the ears of influential tech journalists in a quest for both publicity and the market's attention. 

But whether it's big tech or small tech, this year's show will be all about A.I. Here are a few of the innovations expected to get noticed at CES 2024.

Smart collars for pets

Consumer electronics company Invoxia is releasing a smart collar suitable for both cats and dogs. The device, known as Minitailz, is an upgrade from the company's Smart Dog Collar, which was introduced at last year's conference.

Minitailz can track your furry friend's walks, runs, and even daily zoomies -- all measured through built-in SMS and GPS technology that calculates movements in nearly real time. The tracker can also evaluate issues related to irregular heartbeats, giving pet owners a deeper insight into their pets' health and behavior.

The smart collar is connected to an app that has a conversational generative A.I. agent that creates personalized pet reports and answers any questions about them. 

This latest version is significantly lighter in weight at around 1.3 ounces, compared to the Smart Dog Collar's 4.6 ounces. The company said the lighter weight makes it a more suitable choice for smaller pets, including cats. And it can be fitted to almost any existing cat or dog collar through an adjustable ring.

Invoxia's Minitailz smart pet tracker for dogs goes on sale today, and the cat version will be available in March 2024. Both versions are priced at $99 for the hardware. A subscription for SIM services starts at $8.30 per month. 

Another look at AR glasses

Augmented reality company Xreal will showcase their Air 2 Ultra glasses, a complete "spatial computing" device that offers six degrees of freedom (DoF) tracking, making them suitable for watching TV and playing flat-screen games on a projected screen. The glasses are also useful for running immersive AR apps, which is exactly what Xreal hopes developers will do with them.

The company says the glasses -- designed to compete with Meta's Quest 3 and Apple's Vision Pro headsets -- are an update to last year's entry. The Ultra glasses project a floating image in front of users' eyes. The headsets have dual 3D cameras, one on each side of the glasses, that can map the wearer's environment and enable special features like hand tracking. 

Hand tracking -- a sensor technology that enables an application to leverage hand gestures to control a device or an object without having to touch it -- allows developers to build apps that blend physical and digital space rather than simply displaying a conventional game, application, or video feed (like Xreal's older model).

The Air 2 Ultra has a wider field of vision, and is slightly lighter than its preceding version, the company said. 

Originally described as being exclusively made for developers, Xreal says the Air 2 Ultra will be available to consumers through its site. Xreal Ultra glasses can be preordered today for shipping in March, and are priced at $699.

The rush to Flush

Soon, you'll be able to rent a bathroom near you. Flush, a restroom rental app designed for business owners to rent out their bathrooms, is launching at CES 2024. 

As a two-sided marketplace platform, Flush allows businesses to list their bathrooms for rent, with prices ranging from free to a $10 maximum. When nature calls, users can find and book available bathrooms nearest to them.

With a built-in rating system, business owners can see when users make a bathroom reservation, and Flush is exploring insurance options to compensate businesses in the event of guest-caused damages or major plumbing issues. 

There's a longstanding need for more and better public bathrooms, but by renting out restrooms across cafes, restaurants, hotels, and other high-traffic areas, Flush could address the scarcity of bathroom options in some cities.

Flush is not currently taking a cut of the reservations, but eventually plans to. The app is launching in Pittsburgh to start.

An A.I. toilet

Appliance giant Kohler also has a big announcement coming down the pipeline.

The 151-year-old bathroom appliance company will introduce the PureWash E930 Bidet Seat this week. The toilet seat fits onto most toilets and transforms any bathroom into an Alexa- or Google Assistant-powered lavatory.

The smart toilet seat opens and closes hands-free when it senses motion, and has a self-cleaning mode using its built-in UV light. Integrating the PureWash E930 with Alexa or Google Home, users can control the smart seat hands-free. Amazon and Google's voice assistants can also turn on the bidet spray, warm air dryer, and UV cleaning at a command.

The PureWash E930 includes a heated seat, LED lighting that turns a toilet into a nightlight, and personalized bidet settings, including adjustable water temperature and pressure for users to choose between oscillating or pulsating sprays.

The toilet seat is priced at $2,149 and is now available in white on Kohler's site. Users can order the seat in black in late February.

Photo Credit: Getty Images.

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