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CES Showcases Pandemic-Driven Touchless Tech and More

The digital transformation was on full display at CES 2021, held Jan. 11–14 in Las Vegas. It turns out the pandemic, now more than a year old, has become a proving ground for innovation, accelerating digital platforms and speeding greater system connectivity. Even the show itself took advantage of digital platforms, moving to the first-ever virtual conference with no in-person attendance.

CES 2021 delivered on its mission as a harbinger of leading-edge technology, even with the pandemic as a backdrop. Companies addressed the contagion head-on in product development, featuring disinfecting robots, body sensors that detect COVID-19, touchless tech and smart air infiltration systems.

Among the innovations unveiled at CES, there were a number of notable ones of interest to ECs.

Alarm.com’s (Tysons, Va.) Touchless Video Doorbell taps into technologies that avoid direct skin contact to reduce public health risk. The entrance system eliminates the need for visitors to press a button, instead deploying video analytics as an alerting function. Anyone coming to the front door simply stands on a system doormat. When a person is detected, the doorbell triggers the existing chime in the home, sends a mobile alert to the owner and starts recording video. Homeowners can see and speak with visitors through the doorbell’s live HD video and two-way audio.

Schneider Electric’s (Boston) Square D Energy Center delivers an end-to-end energy management solution. Named an NAHB Global Innovation Award winner in March 2020, the Square D Energy Center is part of the Wiser ecosystem of solutions. By connecting a smart thermostat, smart meter, backup generator and solar inverter with an A.I.-driven energy management system, it takes a proactive energy approach to sustainability.

LG Electronics Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., unveiled the newest addition to its CLOi family of robots that use ultraviolet light to disinfect high-touch, high-traffic areas. Designed for hotels, schools, restaurants and retailers, its autonomous design allows the robot to easily navigate around tables, chairs and other furniture, irradiating a room’s touchable surfaces in 15–30 minutes and disinfecting multiple areas on a single battery charge.

Flywallet, a startup Italian wearable technology company, introduced the Keyble, a wristband device that features onboard biometrics. Keyble leverages a built-in sensor to authenticate the user and enable contactless payments using a simple fingerprint scan. In addition, it can be used for access control and opening doors with smart locks, public transportation, accessing a car and for digital identity and signatures.

Bosch, Farmington Hills, Mich., introduced a sensor that measures factors such as air quality and relative humidity and delivers data critical to the fight against the coronavirus. Bosch security cameras also illustrated contagion-fighting capabilities, using A.I. to deploy customer-specific applications. For example, a camera solution with integrated intelligent video analysis can measure body temperature anonymously and without direct contact—with a maximum deviation of half a degree.

CyberLink Corp., a pioneer in A.I. and facial recognition in San Jose, Calif., showcased new applications of its FaceMe technology, including pandemic control and access security software solutions with FaceMe Health and FaceMe Security. Designed for smart surveillance, FaceMe Security software runs on PC, workstations, servers and video management systems. It detects individual faces within a crowd and matches them to a database profile, even those wearing a mask. It can also display body temperature and show any noncompliance or blacklisted/prohibited individuals, alerting security personnel in real time.

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