CES 2020 Trends: Get Ready for Holographs, Augmented Reality, and Smart Bathrooms

Demonstration image showing Magic Leap's technology used for industry.
Photo-illustration: Magic Leap

By: Tekla S. Perry

While CES doesn’t officially start until Tuesday, announcements and teasers always begin flowing long before the show. From sifting through those materials, I’ve started to spot a few trends.

Augmented reality will be everywhere, while virtual reality gets less attention

This shift is good news for me. Motion sickness makes it unpleasant to fully immerse myself in a virtual world, while augmented reality (AR) devices, which superimpose digital images on real objects, suit me just fine. CES exhibitors will show off lots of new AR glasses at this year’s show, as well as advances in the underlying technology.

Bosch, for example, is pitching a new optical light drive module, a stack of MEMS mirrors, sensors, processors, and other hardware that can be built into smart glasses to create an AR display. Futurus Technology will introduce a mixed reality car windshield. And Magic Leap promises a live demo of new apps as the well-funded AR startup pivots to focus more on business than consumer applications, at least in the short term.

Holography is back in fashion

Holography seems to come and go, as the technology lurches between enthusiasts’ claims that holography is better than ever before and skeptics’ assertions that it’s still not good enough to be useful.

This year, Looking Glass is demonstrating a 32-inch 8K holographic display, with, the company says, a holographic depth that measures in feet, rather than inches.

Hypervsn plans to demonstrate a livestream of holograms, along with a holographic version of Tetris and various holographic virtual assistants.

And those Bosch AR modules I mentioned previously? The company touts a “holographic element” as one key feature of its technology.

Toileting comes to the Internet of Things

I have never seen so many press releases related to poop! Several companies are touting smart diapers for infants and adults. Monit announced adult diapers that contain five sensors and will notify caregivers via an app that a diaper is soiled and “pinpoint the soiled area” to reveal exactly what the caregiver will find when the diaper is changed. The system apparently uses machine learning to get smarter about… what, I’m not quite sure.  

Meanwhile, Charmin plans to demo several technologies “for a better bathroom experience.” (Sorry, that’s all I can tell you right now, details are under embargo. I’ll just say they definitely push the edge of bathroom technology.)

And Toto, the company whose many-featured toilets brought luxury toilet technology out of Japan, where many of us first encountered it, into high-end homes around the world, says its next-generation toilet has added self cleaning, with ultraviolet light and a titanium dioxide coating on the toilet bowl, which together create a photocatalytic process to destroy lingering microscopic particles of waste—for just US $13,000.

You can follow me on Twitter as I check out these products, and more, at @TeklaPerry.

This article originally appeared in IEEE Spectrum on 5 January 2020.