It is seen as the tech industry event of the year, and a window into the inventions that will change our lives in the years ahead.

But the start of the CES conference in Las Vegas was dominated by a robot that ferries toilet paper, a row over the appearance of Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka, and a decline in reported attendee numbers.

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the trade body that runs the show, said it expected more than 170,000 attendees and 4,400 exhibitors, a decline from the 180,000 and 4,500 it had quoted last year.

A spokesman for the CTA said the show’s size would “remain roughly the same as last year” and that it would provide audited numbers after the week-long event.

The decline is partly due to fewer Chinese companies attending amid trade tensions with the US.

Ms. Trump will speak at the show later today. Her attendance has been controversial because the show has previously been lambasted for under-representing female tech executives with established careers. CTA chief Gary Shapiro has defended the decision, saying her talk will focus on job creation.

Here are some of the best and most bizarre inventions making headlines from this year’s show.

Virtual visor blocks out sun

German manufacturer Bosch has announced a “virtual visor” that tracks a driver’s eyes to block out the sun without obscuring their view of the rest of the road.

A transparent video screen hovers above a driver’s head but uses facial recognition technology to identify their eyes, casting a shadow over a small area of the driver’s face to stop sun glare from interfering with their view.

CREDIT: BOSCH.

Bosch says existing sun visors are one of the most overlooked parts of a car’s interior, often obscuring a driver’s view. According to the AA, one in 50 car accidents in the UK are due to sun glare, resulting in hundreds of fatal or serious injuries a year.

The virtual visor concept would eliminate existing sun visors completely, although it is currently just a concept, and it is likely to be years before it arrives in any production vehicles.

Smart mailbox thwarts package thieves

The rise of online shopping has led to a surge in “package thieves” who steal parcels left on porches, with the problem becoming so acute that police in some US cities have taken to leaving fake Amazon boxes to catch the perpetrators.

A smart mailbox developed by Canadian company Danby plans to address the problem with the Parcel Guard, a smart mailbox which will go on sale in the UK later this year, after a US launch in November.

Smart mailboxes will deter thieves CREDIT: DANBY.

The box has an anti-theft drop-in slot for smaller packages, which is then opened with a code or smartphone app and can place phone calls between a parcel courier and a customer if they need to open the box remotely. It also features a motion-sensing camera to record when packages have been delivered.

However, it does require constant Wi-Fi and power connection. The company did not reveal a UK price but it costs $399 (£305) in the US.

The robot that brings you toilet paper

It has been estimated that the average person spends a year and a half of their life in the bathroom, and yet the last major invention to change the smallest room in the house was indoor plumbing.

Consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble says it plans to change that. The company’s toilet paper brand, Charmin, has unveiled a two-wheeled robot designed to save its owner at the most crucial moment.

The Charmin can be summoned using your phone’s Bluetooth CREDIT: JAMES TITCOMB.

The “RollBot” is summoned by a smartphone using Bluetooth and uses technology similar to a robot vacuum cleaner to navigate to its owner, carrying a precious spare roll.

Charmin has not said if or when it plans to release the robot to the general public but says it came from hearing customers vent about their biggest frustrations.

Tech for the bathroom is a hot topic at this year’s CES. American manufacturer Kohler has unveiled a shower head speaker that works with Amazon’s Alexa, while French company Mateo announced a smart bathroom mat that tracks owners’ weight and posture.

The virtual fence for your wandering dog

This $1,495 (£1,142) GPS-enabled dog collar lets you “draw” a boundary anywhere, including your home, the homes of family and friends, a campsite or a park.

If the dog escapes, the GPS alerts you via a mobile phone app and helps you track and find it, even in remote areas like woodland.

Dog collars that emit electric shocks are controversial CREDIT: ONPOINTSYSTEMS

It uses two audible tones followed by a mild electric shock, similar to those employed by more traditional pet containment companies, which work by laying wiring underneath the ground, in order to deter the dog from leaving.

These have been controversial and electric collars used for training are illegal in the UK, though the government decided not to outlaw the containment collars in Scotland and England. SpotOn says it hopes to come to the UK in around a year’s time.

Light for dealing with dyslexia

French company Lexilife has invented a £549 smart light it says can relieve dyslexia. Research published in 2017 suggested that the condition may be caused by the pattern of cells in the eyes.

In non-dyslexic people, one eye becomes dominant, allowing the brain to process one image. But for people with dyslexia, both eyes send information to the brain, creating the confusing mirror image problems which make reading difficult.

Lexilife says its smart light can relieve dyslexia.

The Lexilight lamp emits pulses of light which it says lead one eye to take precedence over the other. Its research suggests it works for almost 90pc of dyslexics and already has orders from three UK schools to help their pupils read.

Solar-powered electric tricycle

French start-up Wello has unveiled a vehicle that lies somewhere in between an electric car and a bicycle, unveiling a solar-power electric tricycle.

The vehicle is pedal-assisted, so doesn’t need a driving license and can travel in bike lanes, but can reach a top speed of 25 miles per hour, and is protected from the elements by a solar roof.

The Wello vehicle is pedal-assisted, so doesn’t require a driving license CREDIT: OLIVIA RUDGARD.

Wello has already been selling a version of its vehicle designed for package deliveries but is releasing a consumer version for parents with a single seat at the back for children that folds into a storage container. The vehicle is also an internet connection, allowing fleet owners to track its location.

The Wello costs €7,000 (£6,000), making it barely cheaper than a budget new car, but its manufacturer says it has the advantage of greater efficiency and easier parking.

The chiller that rapidly cools down drinks in a party emergency

If you’ve ever arrived at a party with a warm bottle of white wine or forgotten to take your prosecco out of the freezer before it explodes, this is the gadget for you.

The Juno chiller is there in case of drink emergencies CREDIT: AP

The Juno chiller, invented by Akram Boukai, previously the creator of a body-heat powered smartwatch, works by rapidly spinning a can of fizzy drink or bottle of wine, which improves the heat transfer away from the liquid.

For a beer, this happens in less than a minute, for champagne it can take three to five. A light-up bar neatly illustrates your drink getting colder, and it doesn’t explode when opened. It currently costs $199 (£152) via crowdfunding site IndieGoGo.

Wearable camera boosts hearing aids

Hearing aids can struggle to isolate sounds, often amplifying background noise as well as a person’s voice.

The Hear, a wearable camera made by Israeli tech company OrCam, uses artificial intelligence to identify the person who is speaking, and then employ lip-reading technology to isolate the sound of their voice, making it easier for those with hearing difficulties to understand them.

The Hear is for those who have a hearing impairment  CREDIT: ORCAM.

OrCam’s founders, Amnon Shashua and Mr. Ziv Aviram, previously launched Mobileye, a driverless car company that was sold to Intel for $15.3bn.

The same company is behind MyEye, a camera for visually-impaired people that attaches to a pair of glasses and uses machine vision to read out text when its owner points at a particular passage.

Control the TV with your mind

One of the rising trends at CES is in “brain-computer interfaces”, headsets with sensors that can monitor electrical activity in the brain and measure it.

French technology company NextMind has developed a $399 Bluetooth headband that it says could be used as a replacement for remote controls or video gamepads, allowing wearers to change channels or control characters in a virtual reality game simply by focusing on an object on a screen.

NextMind has developed a Bluetooth headband that lets wearers change channels on the TV. CREDIT: NEXTMIND.

The headband uses eight electrodes to monitor a wearer’s visual cortex. While it currently measures what wearers are focusing their attention on, future wearers could control devices by visualizing what they want to happen, for example imagining what channel they want to switch to or song to listen to.

The company says it is working with TV and video companies as well as car manufacturers, possibly allowing people to change car settings such as heating and music without having to divert their gaze from the road.

AirSelfie – The drone that takes selfies for you

Getting a big group into a selfie, or even finding the right angle while holding the camera yourself, can be tricky. US company AirSelfie thinks it has the solution, with a drone that can do it for you.

“People are taking 100 million selfies a day,” says general manager Greg Appelhof. “Our market is Gen Z and millennials, who want to get that perfect shot.”

The $99.95 (£76.40) drone latches on to a face by recognizing the shape of eyes, nose, and mouth, and can then follow you as you move. A hand signal can cue it to take a picture or begin filming.

Source: Telegraph

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