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⚡ Welcome to The Weekly Authority, the Android Authority newsletter that breaks down the top Android and tech news from the week. The 176th edition coming right up, with everything from CES 2022, to the S21 FE reveal, OnePlus 10 Pro specs, and more.


🥶 It was -4 °C here this morning, so I'm cozied up indoors playing Assassin's Creed Odyssey — so far I think I'm preferring it to Origins!

January 8, 2022
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Samsung Galaxy S21 FE display in hand
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Features

Weekly Wonder

This week we’re still about all things CES, and if you haven’t yet seen our Best of CES 2022 Awards, head on over and check that out first. 

Aside from the award winners and standout innovations of the year, though, we’re taking a moment to look at some of the coolest, out there, sometimes-amazing, sometimes-just-downright-strange products we saw this year.

A finger-biting cat soft toy 

Without a doubt, Amagami Ham Ham was the strangest thing we saw at CES 2022. Roughly translated as “gentle bite,” this cat plushie gently suckles on your finger. The idea behind the toy, made by Yukai Engineering, is to “give you innocent, comforting pleasure to brighten your day.” Um, okay. Is it just us or is this a bit… well… weird?

BMW’s color-changing car

bmw ix flow e ink car
BMW

Although most of us wanted Transformers in our lives as kids, the idea that a car could change color at the flip of a switch seemed like the stuff of science fiction, until now. BMW’s iX Flow is the world’s first color-changing car, wrapped in electrophoretic coloring material that works the same way as your Kindle’s e-ink display.

Embedded in the wrap are millions of microcapsules which each contain a positively charged black pigment and a negatively charged white pigment. Apply an electrical charge and either the white or black pigments rise to the top of the microcapsule, effectively changing the vehicle’s color in minutes. Right now there’s only a choice between black and white, but in future, we could see a huge rainbow of shades. The iX Flow’s nowhere near production-ready yet though, so you’ll have to wait a while longer.

A gaming vest that lets you feel every bullet

Because everybody wants to feel Every. Single. Bullet hitting their body while playing Call of Duty, Owo’s Haptic Vest is here. Feel being shot, falling, and even being bitten by mosquitoes. Great! Except, why would you want to? In all seriousness, haptic clothing is pretty cool and I’d love to get my hands on one of these to use with my Oculus Quest 2, though maybe not for zombie games…

An inflatable space habitat for an out-of-this-world trip

Sierra Space’s Large Integrated Flexible Environment (LIFE) is the giant inflatable habitat for space we never knew we needed. The company’s launching its Dream Chaser spaceplane later this year (a life-size replica was on show at CES), taking both people and cargo into low-earth orbit, and it’ll also shuttle visitors — both tourists and astronauts — to and from the habitat.

A scaled-down version of the habitat itself — which accommodates up to four people — was showcased at CES 2022. Traveling to space folded into a launch vehicle, the LIFE habitat inflates to an impressive three stories, with dedicated spaces for eating, playing, working, and exercise. Sierra Space is also working with Bezos’ Blue Origin on Orbital Reef, a ‘mixed-use business park’ in space, hoping to be the world’s first commercial space station.

A toilet that analyzes your poop

A toilet that analyzes your “deposits” and gives you tips on healthy living — cool or just downright creepy? A bit of both, we’d say. Toto’s Wellness Toilet is just a concept for now — in fact, it’s one that’s been in development since 2017 — by Toto, a Japan-based toilet and bidet company. 

The toilet uses “multiple cutting-edged sensing technologies” to analyze your “mental and physical status.” Data’s then sent to an app that provides recommendations for a healthier diet and lifestyle, like “eat more fruit.” Hmm.

The concept’s intentionally pretty light on details for now, and the head of Digital Innovation at the company promises the toilet will track data linked to stress, fitness level, and body conditions. It’ll also, somehow, collect input on scent and blood flow, though it’s not clear how. 

Feline Fitness tracking 

January’s the most popular time of year to improve your health and fitness, but what about your kitty? If your feline friend’s had a few too many treats over the festive season, Korean brand PurrSong is here to help. The LavvieTAG, its fitness tracker for kitties, tracks your cat’s activity and makes it easy to spot unusual behavior which could indicate illness.

The LavvieTAG is available soon, and it’s part of a series of connected devices including the LavvieBox, a smart litter box, Lavvie Water, a smart water dispenser, and the LavvieBot S, an automatic litter box that’ll set you back a cool $900.

Basically, this is a way to keep track of your cat’s energy levels, feeding routines, calorie intake, and more, with graphs that help monitor changes and hourly activity recording — handy if you’re away from home. The tracker itself is the size of a quarter, lightweight, and boasts four weeks’ battery life, plus it comes with a charger that handily charges three tags at once.

You probably don’t need this in your life, but if your kitty’s elderly or has been unwell, you might want it.

“Invisible” headphones — no Hogwarts involved

Speaking of things you might want, one of my favorite mentions at CES 2022 was the “invisible” headphones from Noveto. The Noveto N1 is a pretty cool concept that looks a bit like your average soundbar, but according to TechRadar, it “uses beamforming technology to create a binaural audio experience without the need for a pair of headphones — but unlike a soundbar, this audio can only be heard by the user’s own ears.”

The experience created is similar to wearing a pair of headphones, immersing you in three-dimensional spatial audio, with only a whisper of sound audible to others in the room. The device transmits ultrasound through the air, which merges into audible pockets outside your ears. Motion sensors help the N1 track when you move or turn your head, though it remains to be seen how accurate this will be.

The N1 looks great too with its black matte aluminum and fabric design, and ring light on the front — it’s known as HAL (Heuristic Activity LED), so hopefully, it won’t become sentient — and has a USB-C port and 3.5mm AUX port, plus Alexa voice recognition and face recognition. It could well become an alternative for anyone suffering from those all-day-headphone-wearing headaches at the office.

Cycling outdoors, indoors (well, kind of)

I must confess to geeking out over LG’s Virtual Ride, even though I (a) don’t own an indoor bike and (b) don’t really like cycling. Go figure. It could be because it looks pretty cool though, with its stacked floor-to-ceiling OLED display in an r-shape, curving around for an immersive experience while you’re cycling. The three 55-inch displays allow you to take a virtual bike ride wherever you like, whether that’s through the streets of Paris or the rainforests of the Amazon. And according to Electronics 360, “the curvature radius allows for sharp curves on the bike ride to enhance the immersion of traveling outdoors.”

It’s kind of like those virtual biking experiences at the gym, only without the queues, or other people’s sweat on the handlebars. Why go outside, when you can bring the outside, inside, asks LG? Well, fresh air, the wind in our faces, the thrill of the open road, for starters, but it’s still a cool product.

Other weird and wonderful things unveiled at CES 2022 included Sengled’s health-tracking lightbulb, the Airvida E1 air-purifying earbuds, and an autonomous tractor.

Tech Calendar

January 11: Samsung Galaxy S21 FE on sale
January 11: OnePlus 10 Pro launches in China @ 1AM ET
January 28: Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection comes to PS5
February 4: Dying Light 2: Stay Human launch on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox X/S, and PC (plus a Cloud version for Switch).
February 18: Horizon: Forbidden West launch on PS4/PS5
February 28-March 3: MWC Barcelona

Tech Tweet of the Week

It’s been a busy week, but hopefully, we’re still managing to string words together better than somebody at this store…

is this store having a stroke wtf pic.twitter.com/cdOv7OVQdY
— Rob N Roll (@thegallowboob) January 4, 2022

A little something extra: Would you want to visit the moon?

Have a great week ahead!

Paula Beaton, Copy Editor.

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