At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the tech event that opens every calendar year and gives us a glimpse of trends to come, the robots were out in force, and looked more real than ever before, even as companies vied with each other to make futuristic AR/VR metaverse and space tech announcements. Fittingly enough, there was a lot of Covid tech too, in the shape of battery-powered masks and air purifiers with headphones.

Samsung and LG had an OLED war going on in the television showcase, while auto companies came riding in with EV offerings and hands-free driverless car demos. Television makers also revealed big plans for gaming, presenting TVs with high image refresh rates and native integration of gaming platforms.

Sustainability was a big theme, with companies putting their green technology initiatives at the forefront — Samsung displaying a solar powered television remote, P&G talking about solutions for washing clothes in a water-scarce environment, LG showing its eco-friendliness with its “The Better Life You Deserve” CES theme and so on.

The scene stealer at the show was Ameca, a robot with human-like facial expressions, created by UK’s Engineered Arts which looks plasticky but emoted realistically.

Another attention grabber was the Noveto N1 invisible headphones. The device sits on your desk, but beams sound directly into your ears — only the user can hear an amplified sound. For others, it is but a whisper.

It all sounds from a parallel universe, but CES showed that it’s all just around the corner.