A joke among us gappers who attend CES is that a great way to network at the show is to bring hand sanitizer. Attendees always seemed eager to chat if you had hand sanitizer handy (pun intended). Shoulder-to-shoulder with the crowd, CES has been a breeding ground for both revolutionary tech and contagions. All too often gappers end up taking a few sick days after all the madness of traveling and navigating the show. CES 2021 will be the cleanest of them all since CES has gone all digital (for obvious reasons) but also because so much of the tech of the future is focused on the pandemic.

Smart Masks

The pandemic has brought new attention to how filthy the world is. There is so much money to be made from that insight even as we slowly inch towards vaccines for all and herd immunity. Our new permanent companion, facemasks are going to be our reality for some time. The AirPop Active+ Smart Mask comes with a hefty price tag ($150) and takes more into consideration than if your mask matches your outfit (my top concern as a fashionista at daycare drop off). 

Airpop Mask


The AirPop Active+ Smart Mask includes a Halo sensor and is powered by a coin-cell battery that lasts up to six months before it needs to be replaced depending on how often it’s used. The smart mask connects to the user’s smartphone through Bluetooth and collects health data including air quality, breaths per minute, breaths per pace, and even what pollutants have been filtered. The app also alerts users when it’s time to change the filter. Critics think that this mask may lead to reckless behavior leading users to feel a false sense of security. Only time will tell if this technology leads to a spike in COVID-19 cases among its early adopters.

Extra Hands

Robots aren’t new to CES but Samsung’s Bot Handy’s focus was certainly geared towards our new lives doing EVERYTHING at home. Bot Handy will put your groceries away, tackle laundry, do your dishes, set the table, and even arrange flowers for that perfect tablescape (wonder if Bot Handy will judge me ordering takeout again for the umpteenth time). This product isn’t ready to ship quite yet, but it’s not uncommon for Samsung to use CES to showcase products that are still in development.

Bot Handy pouring wine


Bot Handy uses AI to recognize objects and tasks around the house that you may need a ‘hand’ with and even is able to access how much force to use while picking up the object. The feature that caught my eye (of course) is Bot Handy can pour wine. Samsung’s Bot Handy totes itself as building a “better normal for all” by handling all the mundane chores that are a total time suck. Can’t help but feel like we are close to going full real life Jetsons.

No Touching

For those tasks we can’t give to a bot, a long list of touchless tech has been unveiled at this year’s CES. The show has been buzzing about the Arlo Touchless Video Doorbell. A very germy flaw that has been overlooked in doorbell tech is users have to press (some might even say ring) the doorbell to alert the homeowner. Doorbells are touched by many, often several times a day, but are often overlooked when it comes to daily disinfecting.

Finger touching a door bell


The Arlo Touchless Video Doorbell tech uses Proximity Sensing Technology to detect when someone has approached the door and alerts the homeowner via video, message, and chime without the visitor having to put their disgusting germ covered hands on your doorbell. No longer will one have to scramble to find their mask to accept the 500th Amazon Prime delivery of the week. This thoughtful tech addition recognizes that we’ll be living with some version of COVID restrictions for some time to come.

Glitter Everywhere

Never in our lives have we been more aware of germs. Suddenly every surface, person, and even the air we breathe is a potential threat. The first time I went to the grocery store after the pandemic hit I came home and wiped down each item with antibacterial wipes. I watched a tutorial that instructed me to think about it as if every item entering my home was covered in glitter that needed to be removed.

Laptop computer with hand sanitizer and masks - overhead view

Life as we know it has forever shifted but it’s exciting to see companies creating products that make our new normal actually feel a bit more normal. While the health threat is very serious, tech definitely has innovative and creative responses. I for one am looking forward to seeing other innovative companies showcase pandemic technology throughout the week at CES–without having to touch a single human being.

Our entire team of Analysts is on the virtual CES floor this week. Contact ehartman@gapintelligence.com with queries. She’s a pro at connecting the dots.