Metaverse, mobility, and merging industries — what we learned from CES 2022
The electronics fair proved to be surprisingly busy and innovation-packed, even though the pandemic took its toll on exhibitor and visitor numbers. Catch up on the best technology, mobility, metaverse, and NFT news that have stirred the pot in their respective fields.
12 Jan 2022

Last week we listed 5 things that we were looking forward to at CES in Las Vegas, and luckily enough the tech fair had plenty more to offer once it closed its doors on January 7.

Credit: Sony.

Sony beating Apple at entering the car industry

This spring Sony is branching out into the mobility space with new subsidiary Sony Mobility Inc, the Japanese tech giant announced at CES this last weekend. Sony rolled out two concept models on their presentation stage; the VISION-S 01 coupe and the VISION-S 02 SUV. The former is already being tested on public roads since a couple of years back.

Being the tech conglomerate that it is, with lines of work in basically anything that hooks up to a power outlet, the car industry comes as a natural next step. At least if we’re talking EVs. Sony will have in-house access to both software and hardware for car infotainment systems, with everything from backup cameras, speakers, screens and so on. The wide-ranging experience of battery production and integration will certainly help too. It will most definitely take a while to come into effect, but we can imagine a fully autonomous Sony car with a built-in PlayStation 8 to make road trips a breeze.

There have been sporadic rumours and concept designs of an Apple-made iCar since the turn of this decade, but Apple has yet to comment on the rumours. With this big news from Sony, and Samsung selling its stake in Renault Samsung Motors after 21 years, it seems that Sony will beat the likes of Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung to enter the EV space.

Credit: Shiftall.

HaritoraX’s affordable motion tracking device keeps your feet on the ground in the metaverse

We mentioned upcoming VR developer Arthur in last week’s pre-CES story, who just like tech giants Meta and Microsoft offer personalised avatars for coming VR meetings. Exciting, sure, but there is one big elephant in the room: where are the legs?

We’ve become accustomed to the floating torsos spectacle as the metaverse takes its first stumbling steps. Developers have expressed the challenge of connecting all the various joints in the pelvis, knees, and feet with no motion tracking below the hip. Thanks to Panasonic-backed Shiftall’s new HaritoraX motion tracker, most of us will be available to enter the metaverse both waist up and down. The lower bodysuits comes in at $270 and can be connected to your VR goggles and controllers to gain full access of your avatar.

Among ridiculously heavy and expensive full-body suits like the Teslasuit ($20,000), this model is more playful and flexible. The HaritoraX works with Chillout VR, NeosVR, and SteamVR compatible apps that support full-body tracking today, but will hopefully be compatible with coming mainstream VR platforms. We really recommend checking out the demo video.

Credit: Samsung.

Samsung’s NFT platform

As a sign of the times, the NFT phenomenon shone with its ubiquity at live talks, shows, and stands this year. Tech goliath Samsung made sure to contribute to the hype with a new NFT platform, that will be integrated into the new MICRO LED, Neo QLED and The Frame models.

Instead of jumping on Netflix or other apps, NFT enthusiasts will now also have an integrated platform to browse, display, and trade NFT art straight on their TV. Perhaps not the most simple way of trading NFTs, considering how tricky it can be to manoeuvre smart TV interfaces with a TV remote. Nevertheless, Samsung’s platform is a first of its kind and it will be interesting to see if the NFT platform allows for exclusive and Samsung-related art and offers.

The VR sense controllers. Credit: Sony.

Eye-tracking headset and haptic controllers in coming Playstation VR2

Amidst many rumours since the start of last year, Sony finally came through with some spec updates on the exciting second generation Playstation VR2. As the name suggests, the VR headset and controllers are first and foremost meant for gaming, but the spec updates are substantial enough to boost excitement for non-gaming metaverse platforms too.

First of all, the eye-tracking built into the headset means that looking around and showing facial expressions for your avatar gets more natural. Not having to move your head when looking around will make for a more instinctive VR experience, and the fact that your avatar twin will mirror your natural blinking and eye movement will also be less creepy for the beholder in a VR meeting.

Secondly, haptic feedback of vibrations and sensors in the controller as well as the headband means that the immersion aspect is turned up a notch. Getting feedback from the controllers and headbands when you virtually touch something will fool your brain, and the 3D audio in the headset complements the headband motor so that you will experience music, sounds and movement better.

And finally, the updated headset 120Hz displays are OLED (obviously), with 4k HDR picture and 2000×2040 resolution per eye. The 110 degree field of vision is only 10 units larger than the predecessor, but in general the Playstation VR2 packs some impressive tech for a headset that won’t cost more than $500.

BMW’s colour-changing bat mobile

The innovation that probably attracted the most buzz from CES was BMW’s iX Flow car, and not because of its ludicrous range or silhouette — but because of the sci-fi colourchanging E Ink paint job.

The body of the iX Flow can swift colours when stimulated by electrical signals, the electrophoretic technology brings different colour pigments to the body’s surface. This means that you could choose different shades of gray, as well as add different patterns to the car. Le Mans fans can apply some temporary racing stripes on the hood and roof of the car when in a hurry.

BMW does however want to point out that the colourchanging has functional character too. For cold days, the black paintjob will be better at absorbing heat than the white version, and vice versa for warm days. Both situations can help to cut the amount of cooling and heating required from the vehicle’s air conditioning. For EV cars, this will subseqeuntly mean more range.