CES 2022 was a grand mashup of the biggest, baddest TVs, outrageous voice-controlled bathtubs, sleek laptops, ambitious electric vehicles, and so much more. A massive preview of what’s hitting shelves over the next 12 months.
But the thing that draws me into CES year after year is the vaporware.
Yes, the collection of real-but-might-never-ship products and ideas — finished or unfinished and in prototype form or not — that dare to dream. There is no tech future unless people — designers, engineers, founders, businesspeople — summon up the courage to share their visions, and open the door to be judged. It can be scary!
Vaporware tech shows us what can be. Many of them never lift-off, never secure funding, never go beyond a drawing on a piece of paper. But they still inspire and that’s why I love tech so much — it’s possibility and potential.
Closing out our CES 2022 coverage (you can also find our Best of CES 2022 picks here), I want to celebrate the coolest concepts and prototypes from the show. Good or terrible, shipping today or never, the ideas keep us in awe and are reminders to keep dreaming big and weird.
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Foldable phones are heating up. Samsung dominates with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3, but Oppo’s got the Find N 5G and Huawei is launching the P50 Pocket. Samsung’s already jumping ahead, though. Its display division showed off these futuristic tri-fold concept devices and let’s just say if you’re a fan of Westworld, you might cry tears of joy.
CES 2022 was full of electric vehicles — many of them concepts. We could make an entire list of EV concepts that will never hit the streets. BMW’s iX Flow and its color-changing paint job easily stole the vaporware award for coolest-concept-that-will-never-happen. How cool would it be to have a white car that could go stealth at the push of a button?
Look, I know people owning flying cars is unlikely to happen (not in my lifetime at least). But that isn’t stopping Maca from trying to make The Jetsons a reality with the S11 Carcopter concept. After all, people once laughed at electric cars, and look who’s laughing now. Elon Musk, the richest person on Earth, all the way to the bank.
Razer is the king of vaporware at CES and this year was no different. Project Sophia envisions your desk as a modular PC, display, and creative console. It looks like a Razer Blade gaming laptop’s guts arranged inside of a desk. I’m sick of seeing RGB PC towers on desks. Time to put PCs into desks and make the tabletop more than just a surface to spill your drink all over.
LG Display, like Samsung Display, shows up every year at CES to flaunt its latest screen innovations. Whether for products for their own respective electronics divisions or for sourcing to other brands, most of what LG Display announced this year was a “what if” scenario. Like this Media Chair throne for private TV viewing. It doesn’t make sense in most peoples’ homes, especially city dwellers like myself. But damn, it would be sick to have one of these pods.
The Mui Calm smart hub is one of the rare smart home devices that do not look like a gadget in your home. Companies like Nest always say they design products to look natural in the home, but what’s more natural than wood? The fact that the Mui board has shown up at the last four CESes in a row and still hasn’t shipped via Kickstarter doesn’t inspire confidence it ever will. I’d love to see more smart home brands embrace wood and a sprite-based UI, though. There’s something very zen about tech from a dead tree.
Imagine cars of the future with airless tires that never get flat. Hankook’s iFlex is the company’s fifth concept tire. I want it to be real. But until I see Teslas or Camrys rolling on streets with these tires, it’s just a dream.
Chances are you’ve never seen a toothbrush like the Y-Brush. While the company does sell the first-gen version of this 10-second toothbrush, the new second-gen model is just a concept. The improvement: double-sided bristles for a faster brush in one go. Frankly, I think this is genius. But if it works, why hasn’t it been ripped off yet?