Virtual Smell is Coming… And Other Tech Gamechangers in 2023

By: Michael McQueen

The tech world is off to a great start this year with the famously ground-breaking and mind-blowing tech convention, CES, presenting some breakthrough innovations.

The Las Vegas megashow is known for showcasing the most futuristic and quirky of the tech world’s inventions, and this year’s event lived up to its reputation.

Here are some of the most promising gamechangers.

1. Virtual Smell

If sight and sound weren’t enough to immerse users in virtual reality, they now have the added sense of smell to boost the experience. At CES this year, Vermont start-up OVR Technology launched an accessory for VR devices which uses a scent-filled cartridge to offer smells to the user that are relevant to their virtual activity. Users can pair the accessory with their gaming systems, computers or mobile devices to enhance the experience of the virtual world.

OVR CEO and co-founder Aaron Wisniewski justifies the device by explaining the significance of smell to our limbic system and the regulation of our emotions and behaviour. As a result, the potential uses are diverse. Hospitals are trialling OVR’s technology to assist pain management in burns victims, while retailers are looking into how to use it to enhance online shopping experiences. [1]

2. AI-powered navigation

In the world of navigation, strides are being made towards a new kind of mapping technology that draws on AI to create intuitive, customisable and hands-free solutions for drivers. Launched by HERE Technologies, UniMap enables rapid real-time changes in maps to reflect the physical world and allows customers to customise their maps and location services. AI models process sensor data every hour to create highly detailed and verified maps.

Another company focused on Navigation, Loovic and Ashirase, showcased their wearable navigation tool. Users wear the tool around their necks, attach a device to their shoe and pair it to their phones to allow a combination of voice assistance and haptic indicators to guide them. It replaces the need to look at a phone screen for direction and can significantly assist the visually impaired. [2]

3. Samsung as doctor

Health-focused technology was a major theme at this year’s CES, which is unsurprising following a global pandemic. The kinds of tools launched to monitor health metrics, however, came from some of the most unexpected of companies. Mobile and appliance giant Samsung showcased a new smart TV with a Telemedicine app which can use a camera to check your symptoms and connect you to a doctor. By paying a monthly subscription, users will be able to reach doctors nearly instantly following their TV consultation.

If users are simply looking for a check-up, Samsung’s applications will offer it without the need for a health professional. The Health Monitor app will use the same camera to measure vitals such as heart rate and blood oxygen saturation. Software uses a process called remote photoplethysmography to track colour changes on your face in order to uncover these vitals. [3]

4. 3D-printed health gummies

Skincare company Neutrogena this year contributed to the convention, showcasing its new tech-empowered skin care solution. Combining face-scanning technology, 3D printing and customised skincare, this product called Skinstack offers custom gummies to the consumer filled with nutrients needed for their skincare. Designed to nourish the customer’s skin, it uses 3D printing to create the gummies and packs them with nutrients that are specifically chosen according to the needs detected by the face-scan.[4]

5. Toilet sensor as doctor

In line with the health-monitoring trend, Withings combines technology with healthcare in order to make futuristic solutions for tracking health metrics. Its latest device, presented at CES, involves a sensor which is placed in your toilet and is designed to analyse your urine to offer you information about various bodily functions. For example, it can monitor nutrition and menstrual cycles by tracking levels of vitamin C and hormones. It may even assist in the detection of bladder and ovarian cancer. [5]

6. Smart phone as life coach

Moving to a more intangible form of healthcare, one of the trends of this year’s CES involved a range of smartphone applications designed to assist people with the regulation and construction of their habits and lifestyles. One device, called the Nowatch, tracks sleep, movement and stress without the distracting screen of existing smartwatches. The aim of the device is to assist the wearer to live in the now – hence, the name – and to aid the user in building healthy habits. It monitors body metrics, uses vibrations to encourage the wearer to live in the present and directs the user towards better routines and lifestyle adjustments. [6]

7. An even more electric car

It wouldn’t be a tech convention without an electric car, and this year’s CES did not disappoint with Sony and Honda collaboratively developing and showcasing a new electric vehicle brand called Afeela. Empowered by Sony’s digital technology, the car prototype is replete with sensors and screens. With its minimalist interior design and spaceship-like appearance, this new innovation, set to launch in 2026, feels like its straight out of the future. [7]

CES this year revealed a range of products that could be gamechangers across a variety of industries. With many of them set to hit the market within the next couple of years, it is likely we are going to see some seismic changes in what have always been the most stable of our products.

[1] Velazco, C & Hunter, T 2023, ‘The best (and strangest) tech we found at CES 2023’, The Washington Post, 6 January.

[2] Calandra, C 2023, ‘CES 2023: Key trends’, Wunderman Thompson, 9 January.

[3] Velazco, C & Hunter, T 2023, ‘The best (and strangest) tech we found at CES 2023’, The Washington Post, 6 January.

[4] Fowler, B 2023, ‘Neutrogena Will 3D Print You Custom Gummies After Scanning Your Face. Yes, That Neutrogena’, CNET, 4 January.

[5] Velazco, C & Hunter, T 2023, ‘The best (and strangest) tech we found at CES 2023’, The Washington Post, 6 January.

[6] Calandra, C 2023, ‘CES 2023: Key trends’, Wunderman Thompson, 9 January.

[7] Velazco, C & Hunter, T 2023, ‘The best (and strangest) tech we found at CES 2023’, The Washington Post, 6 January.

Article supplied with thanks to Michael McQueen.

About the Author: Michael is a trends forecaster, business strategist and award-winning conference speaker.

Feature image: Photo by Barbara Zandoval on Unsplash 

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