23 May 2024

Singapore-based gaming hardware maker Razer showcased what they claimed to be the “world’s smartest mask”.

Project Hazel, as it’s called, boasts ventilation, auto-sterilization with a built-in UV light, and a “Low Light Mode” that lights up automatically when it’s dark to show the wearer’s mouth.

“We have hit a new normal, and we wanted to challenge ourselves. So, we asked ourselves, what does it take to make a mask or design a mask from the ground up for the new normal? And that led to what we have today,” says Kushal Tandon from Razer.

Another feature uses a built-in microphone to amplify the wearer’s voice, which may sound muffled under the mask.

“When you try to communicate with the mask on, your voice ends up becoming very muffled and hard to hear because this is an airtight design. Razer VoiceAmp solves that through a complex system of microphones and speakers,” explains Tandon.

For now, though, Project Hazel is only a concept and isn’t expected to hit store shelves any time soon.

Razer showcased the smart mask at CES to gauge reactions, meaning the N95 medical-grade mask is yet to receive official certification.

Tandon says they’re also exploring other smart additions, including the ability to pair the device with a mobile app.

“You can get all of the information around the mask, such air quality, quality, the level of your battery, all of the personalization components through a one-stop shop,” he says.

Technology to battle the coronavirus was big on the virtual show floor this year. Several companies were showcasing disinfecting robots.

LG introduced an autonomous UV-C light robot designed to irradiate viruses on heavily touched surfaces.

To that end, LG was also promoting a wearable air purifier and a portable air purifier that you can use to purify air in a car or office.

German engineering and technology firm Bosch said its mobile Vivalytic medical analysis device can now deliver positive COVID-19 PCR test results in less than 30 minutes.

A new air quality sensor can also measure the amount of exhaled air and aerosols present in a room.

“In terms of the themes and trends, you know, one of the big ones is clearly the healthcare technology that’s been a growth area before COVID and now it’s just even heavier,” says Gary Shapiro, president of CES organizers the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

Samsung showcased Bot Care, an AI-powered robot that’s able to recognize and respond to their owner’s behaviour, including helping home workers by displaying video calls on its screen.

Canada-based UAV company Draganfly showcased a drone that’s able to spray sanitizer around public areas, including stadiums, arenas, malls and conference centers.

Netherlands-based GateDoc showed an automated touchless temperature scanner.

And France-based Pollen Robotics showed how its “Reachy” robot can be used to hand face masks to people entering enclosed areas.

“For sure, we’re going to be seeing a lot more pandemic technology and specifically the type of autonomy that is coming with robotics and how this can interact with our society,” says Nicole Scott, editor of MobileGeeks technology website.

“I think that this is a massive leap forward in robotics autonomy, that’s not necessarily just to do with the pandemic, but I think it has really long-term implications for how robots are going to be in our lives permanently.”

Switzerland-based CleanMotion showcased a self-disinfecting door handle that features a small disinfectant tank and can be used around 2,000 times before needing a refill, according to the company.

And lastly, how about meeting your friends wearing one of these?

California-based Seguro showcased its Airsafe personal air purification face shield that delivers a “clean curtain” of fresh air to the nose and mouth, says the start-up.

The all-digital CES 2021 gadget show ran 11-14 January.