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Best of CES 2023: 6 innovations that will shape the future

ZDNET's top CES picks aren't just products we liked, but ones that could drive real change.
Written by Jason Hiner, Editor in Chief
Reviewed by Alyson Windsor

After scouring the world's biggest tech show for all the most innovative products we could find, we've settled on a list of the best ones from CES 2023. Our team found lots of gadgets that we were interested in and some that we might even buy or recommend later this year when they're officially released. But, for ZDNET's list of the best of CES 2023 we put the spotlight on six products that are innovative, unique, and likely to have the biggest and most positive impact. Here they are.

Also: CES 2023 tech you can actually buy now

1. Displace Wireless TV

Displace TV mounted on a window.
June Wan/ZDNET

TVs have been the centerpiece of CES for decades and the largest booths at the show are dominated by TV makers who also happen to be some of the world's largest tech companies. That makes it extremely unlikely that a 6-person startup could come to CES and out-innovate the biggest companies at the show, but that's exactly what Displace did with the unveiling of the world's first wireless TV at CES 2023. 

Recaps: CES 2023 Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

The TV is surprisingly light and runs on hot-swappable batteries that last about a month. It connects wirelessly to a base station to receive content. And it has another innovation that makes it easy to move around to different places in your house: it can stick to nearly any surface without a mount by using vacuum suction technology. It also doesn't use a remote. Instead, users control it with gestures and a smartphone app. It's pretty astounding how ambitious Displace has been in trying to improve the TV experience. Its 55-inch TV goes on sale later this year for $2,999. 

Also: The best TV announcements from CES 2023

2. Evie ring from Movano

Evie Ring
Evie

Movano is creating the first wearable fitness tracker that will be FDA-certified as a medical device in order to raise the bar on accuracy and reliability in wearables. The unfortunate truth about many of today's fitness trackers is that they don't have to be accurate and many of them aren't, especially in certain scenarios. So the fact that Movano plans to release medical-grade fitness trackers is significant by itself.

Also: New smart toilet health tracker 

For Movano's first product that it's bringing to market, it's also addressing another problem with today's fitness trackers -- they are almost all designed with men in mind first, and then eventually adjusted to address the needs of women. Movano is flipping the script with its Evie ring by making the product primarily for women and optimized for women's health. Evie will be released in mid-2023. Fitness trackers for men will follow.

3. HTC Vive XR Elite

Jason Hiner trying out HTC Vive XR Elite
June Wan/ZDNET

ZDNET went into CES 2023 asking if anyone could make us care about the metaverse and HTC delivered by revealing arguably the most impressive XR headset we've seen as well as doubling down on its promise to work toward an open ecosystem that will make the metaverse a 3D version of the internet powered by AI. That would be a much better metaverse than anything we've seen so far.

Also: Here's every major AR/VR announcement from CES 2023

The HTC Vive XR Elite headset is ridiculously light and comfortable to wear, delivers high-end visuals, and comes in at a relatively modest $1,099 price for premium headsets. The headset can deliver content from phones, PCs, and online VR platforms. And, HTC says that it's collaborating with all of the VR industry players who want to create an open, cross-platform metaverse that is akin to the open internet. 

At CES 2023, the author of Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson -- who helped create a vision of the metaverse in his novel and has also been an advocate of an open metaverse -- joined with HTC to appeal for the open metaverse. Stephenson's metaverse startup Lamina1, based on blockchain technology, is also emerging as a key influencer in the open metaverse discussion. Look for ZDNET's upcoming interview with Stephenson at CES. You can also create your own metaverse avatar and start dipping your toes in the water for free with or without a headset at viverse.com.

Also: Here's everything Razer just announced at CES 2023

4. Lenovo ThinkBook Wireless Dock

lenovo-thinkbook-wireless-dock-1
Lenovo

Tucked in among Lenovo's many announcements of new laptops, PCs -- and even a smartphone -- was the unveiling of the Lenovo ThinkBook Wireless Dock. This allows your laptop to wirelessly connect to a pair of 4K monitors at 60Hz. The accessory also comes with a wireless charging pad that works with one Lenovo laptop model for now but obviously has the potential to be integrated into future models. 

Also: Can Lenovo's Yoga Book 9i finally make dual-screen laptops a thing?

The wireless dock is powered by tech from Synaptics and it's also being integrated into a Targus wireless docking station that will work with other brands of laptops. The big takeaway here is that this tech would be terrific for today's workers who are hot-desking at work, moving between conference rooms, and switching between docking at their desk with a big monitor and working from the couch or kitchen table at home. This is a much better and more flexible option than even today's USB-C docking solutions and we'd love to see a lot more of it in the years ahead. 

5. Flex Hybrid from Samsung Display

Samsung Display's Flex Hybrid

Samsung Display's Flex Hybrid display can be folded from the left side and extended from the right side. 

Samsung Display

After interest in foldable phones peaked in 2019, most of the phone makers have sidelined their foldables in the last couple years. However, Samsung continues to release new foldable models each year and its component-making arm Samsung Display went all-in by showing off its latest concepts for the future of phones at CES 2023. That included a whole set of different models that fold, bend, and extend. 

Also: Samsung's new smart car system is straight from a sci-fi movie

Of those prototypes, the most ambitious is the Flex Hybrid, which opens like a book -- similar to today's Galaxy Fold 4 -- but can then roll out a hidden screen extension to give you even more screen real estate. This makes it truly transform from a folding phone into a tablet. It's not clear how usable that concept would be, but it's impressive that it both folds and extends. It gives us a palpable vision of a future where our phones will slide into our pockets and bags like they do today, but will also extend beyond today's foldables to give us a bigger, fuller experience when we need it.

6. FluentPet Connect

FluentPet Connect HexTiles
FluentPet

One of the internet's favorite viral stars of the past couple years is a sheepadoodle dog named Bunny who learned how to communicate with her owner by using a soundboard to tap out over 90 words, based on classical conditioning. The New York Times has dubbed Bunny, "The 'Talking' Dog of TikTok" because of her viral videos that have led to over 8 million followers on Bunny's TikTok account

The soundboard that Bunny uses is made by a company called FluentPet and at CES 2023 the company announced FluentPet Connect. Now, you can not only hear the speaker when your dog or cat presses a specific button, but you can get an alert on your phone when they press it. So if you're in a different part of the house or at work, you can get notified of what your pet is trying to communicate. That can be everything from your dog needing to go outside to the mail carrier just arrived to a stranger coming to your front door. 

Also: ADT is finally embracing DIY home security

While ZDNET doesn't typically cover a lot of pet tech, many of us at ZDNET have pets, and many more people became new pet owners during the pandemic. All of us would likely love to better communicate with them through technology. 

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