From 7 Jan 2020 – 10 Jan 2020, CES rolled into Las Vegas as the city hosted the latest edition of this tech-centric event. CES 2020 didn’t disappoint, showcasing the very best in technology and innovation across all aspects of everyday life.

Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA TM, owner and producer of CES, said of this year’s edition: “CES 2020 inspired and connected every major industry across the globe. The innovation unveiled at CES 2020 will reshape industries, create jobs, fuel the global economy and improve lives around the world.”

UnSUBURBIA has noted the best in innovation from CES 2020, looking at the future of technology both in our homes and beyond.

5G slowly becoming the norm

The introduction of 5G has long been on the agenda at CES, and this edition marked the arrival of the “year of 5G”, according to some experts.

It is believed that the sales of 5G-enabled products will increase rapidly over the next 12 months, as the market begins to see a greater demand for the technology. 5G promises faster data speeds, a reduction in lag time, and greater density for smart devices – its goal is to create a better connected, faster future for society, supporting concepts such as autonomous driving and connected cities.

Speaking at the event, T-Mobile US suggested it had conducted a nationwide 5G rollout at the end of last year across the country, offering widespread 5G coverage but at a slower rate than some of its competitors.

However, Bob O’Donnell, president of TECHnalysis Research, was more subdued about the mass 5G rollout in 2020, due to the technical aspects of a widespread introduction. O’Donnell noted that a large proportion of consumers are using 4G devices, so it would be a costly move to have 5G access for everyone due to the number of devices being at a minimum.

As O’Donnell put it himself: “That’s like opening a 10-lane highway only for people with electric cars…it’s a ‘chicken and egg’ situation”.

With the current price of 5G enabled devices being upwards of the $1,000 (around £750) mark, some experts believe we will start to see prices coming down, which ultimately helps the adoption curve for 5G devices.

Taxis taking to the sky

In recent history, the way we approach taxi travel has changed dramatically – from hailing a cab at the side of the road, to using innovation to get picked up. But at CES 2020, the next phase of taxi journeying was revealed by the industry’s biggest players.

It’s been no secret that Uber has long wanted to take its ride-hailing services into the sky and now the company seems to have found the perfect partner in automotive manufacturer Hyundai. The aim? To fly above the congested roads, slash journey times and promote a new way of travelling.

The two companies have collaborated to create the Uberdai, an electric plane capable of carry a pilot and three passengers whilst travelling at speeds of up to 180mph. It’s easy to see why this partnership has blossomed – Hyundai has the extensive expertise in automotive manufacturing, whilst Uber is the unprecedent leader in the transport-hailing sector. It already possesses the power to offer car, bike scooter, boats and helicopter as transportation options, so why not go for aeroplanes too?

Aero-taxi travel might seem like something from a science fiction novel, but the implementation is closer than you’d think. Uber plans to launch its swarm of flying taxis across the US and Australia in 2023, with Melbourne, Dallas and Las Vegas chosen as the potential locations.

Samsung bringing robotics to the kitchen

A prominent exhibitor at every edition of CES, Samsung once again showcased a wide range of innovative tech to wow the event attendees. But this year, one invention stood out from the crowd – the Samsung Bot Chef.

This voice-commanded gadget showcases artificial intelligence at its finest. It consists of two long robotic arms attached to the underneath of a kitchen cabinet, each with four joints allowing for bending and movement and three ‘fingers’ so it can pick up items, use cutlery and open cupboards.

The demo at the event showcased Samsung’s invention preparing a salad, from choosing the ingredients to cutting them up and mixing them in a bowl. Through using their voice, the user can also change the recipe during the process and the robot will adhere to the command.

However, the most ingenious aspects of Bot Chef is that you can download skills for it to learn. During a demo at CES, the robot was asked to make a cup of coffee, which it wasn’t programmed to do. It made the user aware it couldn’t perform this task, so all the user had to do was ask for this skill to be downloaded and installed. The Bot Chef is able to learn new skills, giving it the ability to manipulate traditionally ‘non-smart’ appliances – it sounds implausible, but this is the stage of innovation we’ve reached in 2020.

It may not be a feature in our homes anytime soon, but Bot Chef offers a glimpse into how AI can assist in our everyday lives in the future.

The latest in meat-free innovation

One of the biggest winners from CES 2020 didn’t actually involve any form of power to showcase what it was – you simply had to taste it.

Impossible Foods has become a pioneer in its field, completely shaking up the vegan food market through its ingenious plant-based inventions of creating meat-free products that taste, well, like meat. In 2019, the company launched its Impossible Burger 2.0 at CES and won critical acclaim and returned again this year to prove Impossible Foods wasn’t just a “one-year wonder”.

Its latest creation looks at pork – the most consumed meat in the world, particularly in Asia where more than 55 per cent of the global population lives. Impossible pork, a man-made substitute, is created using soy, with sunflower and coconut oils serving as fat sources, whilst other ingredients contain binders and flavourings including heme. The creation is in fact healthier than actual pork – a four-ounce serving has 220 calories, compared to real pork which has 350 calories per serving.

It might not have the bright lights or talking interfaces associated with many of CES 2020’s highlights, this product doesn’t need them. It’s ethical and sustainable as we take the fight to the ongoing battle against climate change, through reducing the amount of greenhouse gases caused by livestock. By appearing at CES two years in a row, Impossible Foods has shown that innovation with food is a valuable aspect of the technology industry.

As another edition of CES closes, how accurate will the predictions from this year’s event be? Will there be a mass rollout of 5G, and will meat-alternatives become the norm? Only time will tell…