Meeting Health Tech Companies at CES 2022

Between Jan 5th and Jan 11th several people from the Product Development department here at Visiba Care travelled to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. CES is always a fantastic opportunity to see what’s new in the world of health tech and create new connections with other people in our industry.

This was the third time in Visibas company history that we visited CES and on the trip we had both veterans and first timers with us.

Corona restrictions

Unfortunately, during our attendance at CES and trip to Las Vegas the Covid pandemic was still at large in multiple parts of the world. This meant things like mandatory mask requirements in all indoor areas and free COVID-tests being handed out in several places. We of course took all necessary precautions and followed all recommendations provided.

CES itself was also scaled down heavily compared to previous iterations with large companies such as Google, Microsoft and AMD not attending due to health concerns. This was clearly noticeable as we walked around the show floor, it was purposely more spacious for health reasons but still a lot of empty space. There were also unmanned booths where companies had pulled out at the last minute such as LG. We also noticed significantly reduced attendance compared to previous years.

Our original plan was to attend for two days but CES decided to close down one day early making us only able to attend for one day.

Companies we talked to

Withings

https://www.withings.com

The French company Withings had a booth where they showed their smart scale called Body Scan. In addition to measuring weight, the scale also measures things like body fat and muscle mass based on values you provided in the companion app. Their primary reason for being at CES 2022 was to show this new product line of smart scales.

The scale had a handle attached to it which was used to measure pulse and other related values. On its display you could see trends and graphs directly without having to open the app first. The scale is clinically tested and validated.

They also showed us their smartwatch called ScanWatch. It is a clinically validated wearable health monitor with advanced features such as being able to detect irregular heartbeats. With the help of AI in the companion app the watch can also create a detailed health profile of you which can be shared with for example your doctor. What separates this watch from competitors is that they have invested heavily into a fancy design and a scratch free display.

We think that Withings has little new to offer in terms of innovation and they are in a market with fierce competition. Tech giants like Apple and Samsung have this market segment in a tight grip and an excellent product alone will not be enough to topple them.

Neurosonic Technologies

https://neurosonictech.com/

From Finland this company allowed visitors of their booth to try a power nap bed called Neurosonic Wave. Some well-earned rest after a day of much walking was not something we could say no to. When lying down in the bed we were given headphones which emitted ambient noise and the bed subtly vibrated. The purpose of this bed was to give you a sort of mechanical meditation which primarily helps against stress.

As of the time we were visiting their booth they were taking part in a larger scientific study with their bed so that they could get a medical classification. Initial results have been very promising and in Rotterdam they were testing this bed as part of a treatment against anorexia. They currently have no global partners and are primarily focused on the northern European market.

We thought the bed was very relaxing and comfortable. The vibrations in combination with the ambient noise from the headphones made it easy to float away into a half sleeping half-awake state. Even though we only tried it for a few minutes each we agreed that it had a positive impact on our stress levels.

The representative was very nice to talk to since we are a Swedish company and they were from Finland and also had Swedish speaking staff present at their booth. The booth was a cooperation between several Finnish companies under the umbrella of a European Union funded project called Business Oulu that was started as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This naturally was the booth that we spent the most time at.

Creoir

https://www.creoir.com/

Creoir is a startup company focused on voice solutions based in Oulu, Finland. Their main product is embedded speech recognition and voice feedback that is operable for various segments such as home appliances, industrial applications, mobile applications and more. Their developing platform is called Creoir’s SDK and is created to develop/integrate into products and applications that require private and local voice control without internet connectivity.

Their software stack includes Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) and Text-to-Speech (TTS) . If they deliver what they said it would be really interesting to see how this helps accessibility in home use.

The main feature I’d say is that you can access their SDK and build around it to fit different applications. They mentioned that they’ve partnered with Nokia to develop a Smart Factory Voice Assistant PoC.

Sleep Number

https://www.sleepnumber.com/

Imagine lying down on a regular bed that may even be a little too hard, then all of a sudden it is hugging you and your body starts sinking down as the mattress is shaping itself around you depending on your weight. It may sound a bit like it gets too soft and it is of course a matter of taste, but as a person who prefers a little harder beds, you could adjust this through an AR headset that comes with. Or yes, more like a helmet that you put on, it would need a whole lot more development before you can even think of using it when you have woken up in the morning to see how you have slept.

The idea is that you should be able to connect the bed to an app to be able to see results of how your sleep has been and see how it has changed during the night. Their main focus at the moment is the American market, but have plans to look into expanding into Europe when the product is more mature. I’m not sure how I feel about the information about my sleep getting shared with a company. This I feel is the biggest problem with these technical smart items, how far should we share information about our everyday life.

Lululab

https://lulu-lab.com/

Lululab and K-beauty is not for the faint of heart. Lululab is a South Korean company which uses cameras and AI to recommend skincare products. This may sound cool and interesting but what they forgot to mention was that it was configured and set up for East Asians, the reason being that their pilot markets for the moment are South Korea and India.

When I tried the machine It first calculated my age and gave me points on different areas on the face… According to the machine I was close to 40 years old (I’m 24) and I am in dire need of combatting the dark circles under my eyes which scored a shocking 0/10. They said that they need to set the configuration for Northern Europeans for it to give an accurate result. I’m not sure if that’s true or they just felt sorry for me. Then again, my colleagues who tried it also got the same score in that category. This can be helpful for people who ordinarily don’t buy skincare products, giving recommendations based on skin complexity with the help of AI may be the future for the beauty industry.

Abbott Laboratories

https://www.abbott.com/for-healthcare-professionals.html

Abbott Laboratories is a huge international company with over 75000 employees world wide. They specialize in healthcare and medical devices. Before CES I’d never heard of this company before so it was very surprising when we looked them up afterwards to see just how large they are.

One common problem with brain injuries and concussions is that they are commonly arbitrarily diagnosed and sometimes even missed entirely. Abbott is a company that wants to change this by making it possible to diagnose brain injuries with a blood test. A working blood test method for diagnosing these conditions would greatly reduce the risk of patients being undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. According to a press release from Abbott, after the blood plasma is placed in a test cartridge you can have the result within 15 minutes. The test result can then be used as the basis for deciding if a CT scan is also necessary for detecting a brain injury.

We never spoke to any representatives of this company but were very intrigued by their booth so we decided to watch the informative video that they had setup at their booth. The video didn’t give us all that much useful information about exactly how the blood test worked or any connected products. It was more a very visual sales pitch aimed to grab your attention and awaken your curiosity about the company.

We think that this blood test sounds amazing and can be an important tool in the healthcare professionals arsenal for giving patients a more accurate diagnosis.

Holo Industries

https://www.holoind.com/

By far one of the coolest and smartest things we saw at CES was Holographic Touch. It is simply explained a touchscreen which requires no actual physical touching to work. The photo really doesn’t do it justice, you got a real sci-fi feeling when you tried it out. In a pandemic world this is a great thing that helps reduce the number of surfaces that need to be touched. They called it contactless holographic touch solutions and has great potential since this opens up for touch screens that work in three dimensions instead of just the standard two.

It works by using very accurate Infra-red sensors to track movement relative to the current rendering of the display. These sensors can also be used as proximity sensors so the screen is only displayed when someone is nearby and thus saves energy.

At the booth we talked to a Japanese representative who was very excited indeed to show us everything they had to offer and answer all of our questions.

Since it was contactless we do have some concerns regarding accessibility of the technology. The only indication that you actually touched one of the buttons was purely visual. Of course they do provide the option of having audio feedback at button presses but we are not convinced it will cover all sorts of disabilities that are out there. Holo Inc. themselves claim to be working hard to resolve pain points like these.

Reflections

Overall we are very happy with our attendance at CES. We managed to have a very productive day where we saw many exciting products and innovations in health tech. The trip itself was also great for the team building aspect, this blog post for example was born from two of us hanging out the entire day at the show floor.

Visiting CES as developers gives you so many new ideas for things you want to try out at hackathons and integrate into your company’s product. One of the staff at a booth we visited even commented that he thought it was very rare for a company to send developers and other minor roles to CES. He said we must work for a very forward thinking company.

We really hope we can go back next year to a show that is fully unleashed and free from all restrictions. We really missed companies like Google who had an amazing slide at their outdoor booth at one of our previous visits.

Philip Sandegren
App Developer

Markus Lokander
QA Engineer

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