Every January, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) mounts the immense Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada., sparking a wave of TV, radio, newspaper, magazine, and blog stories about cool CES gadgets. Most of these articles consist of the writer or producer going gobstoppers over their favorite electronic gadgets, and we’re no different. This year’s show unveiled to us a slew of nifty innovations, but this year’s selection seemed to address a wider audience and offer more utility than flash and bling.
Our favorite picks among the thousands of items that debuted at CES range from those everyone might find handy to those for cyclists or campers. If that sounds unique because you’ve grown accustomed to CES debuting new tablets, computers, and Internet of Things (IoT) technology, this year proved different. You will find many of this year’s top CES gadgets in a bike shop or secondary school, rather than in a store similar to Sharper Image. Let’s consider the niftiest of the nifty in this ultimate list of CES 2024 technology.
1. Unistellar Odyssey
Maybe you won’t see the Unistellar Odyssey on the streets, but many STEM schools will probably purchase this 3.35-inch reflector telescope for their science programs. For $2,499, it can fit many public and private school budgets, transforming the efficacy of their astronomy studies. The French firm designed its Odyssey and Odyssey Pro, so the user can control and align them with a smartphone app. Its focal length of 320 mm, field view of 34 x 45 arc minutes, and Multi-Depth Technology ensure that students can view the moon and planets easily, and with a flick of a switch, view deep-sky objects, such as nebulas, star clusters, and galaxies.
If you think these CES gadgets might present too advanced a technology for most school environments, the designers at Unistellar created this telescope for people without astronomy experience who want to explore what’s out there. They designed user-friendly hardware that works through an intuitive app. The company’s co-founder, Laurent Marfisi, told Digital Camera World that they wanted to create a “meaningful and emotional experience” for newcomers to astronomy.
2. Rabbit R1
Every year, among the CES gadgets, we find a new and different smartphone; in fact, the first smartphone appeared at a long ago CES. 2024 became the year of the Rabbit R1, an app-less smartphone. You read that right; this smartphone with no apps uses a generative artificial intelligence (AI) bot that you talk to like you would Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana, etc. The tiny, square device doesn’t look like any other phone either, instead resembling a TV set that fits inside the palm of your hand.
It doesn’t automatically know how to do everything. You must train it to do what you want it to do, by demonstrating to it how to do the task using existing outside software. It uploads a screen recording of the lesson and replicates the action when you tell it to do so. Rabbit respects people’s privacy by turning off its 360-degree rotating camera and its microphone as soon as you finish a task.
If you’ve grown used to the colocation you seemingly experience by yelling a command to Alexa or Google Assistant when you forget your phone in another room, forget it. Although cool, when using Rabbit R1, you must tap or depress the on button to activate the mic. It offers one of the more unique CES gadgets since it relies solely on voice commands – without even a dial pad to make calls.
3. Punkt MC02 5G Secure Phone
This invention tops our CES gadgets list for your favorite lawyer, because who else needs a phone so secure that spy Maxwell Smart would use it? This snazzy 5G phone puts you in charge of your data privacy and carbon footprint – at least the one created by your smartphone use. From the safe space you designate to its built-in virtual private network (VPN), this smartphone protects you from data theft, advertising, and digital attackers. The MC02 even protects your Internet browsing history from prying eyes.
According to the product data, the phone offers all the capabilities of other smartphones. Its added security provides a bonus for choosing it. Unlike Rabbit’s new-fangled design, the MC02’s form factor resembles the Microsoft phones from a few years ago – slender and sleek with a roomy screen.
4. Meta Smart Glasses
The 2024 CES gadgets offer something for opticians, too; prescription lens-compatible smart glasses. These smart glasses from Ray-Ban and Meta enable the user to capture what they see through their glasses and live stream it via a built-in 12-megapixel camera and a five-microphone system. Connect the glasses to Facebook and Instagram to update followers on the fly. Accept phone calls hands-free and listen to calls and music using open-ear listening devices.
Don’t worry that you won’t look chill wearing these. Through its partnership with Ray-Ban, Meta gets to use the unique styling of the sunglass manufacturer’s Wayfarers. You can also nab the latest in computerized glasses in the Headliner style.
5. Catalyst Dog Collar
Do you have a wayward pet who wanders afar and runs amok? If you dream of GPS tracking solutions for your pet, this year’s CES gadgets deliver it in the form of the Catalyst pet collar. It uses Air Tag technology to track your pet’s location and a tough design that can handle immersion in water, scratching, licking, and rolling on it. The collar comes with a silicone wrap to add to its water protection.
Ostensibly for dogs, cats can wear them, too. Its one-inch width proves ideal for most large pets, and you can easily attach a leash to it. The collar comes in four sizes that fit pets with necks measuring 10″ to 28″. Designed to avoid irritating your pet’s skin, most pets will find it tough to remove, Catalyst says. If your pet has a knack for squirming out of its collar, this futuristic design may prevent it from happening.
6. Xreal Air 2 Ultra
We didn’t leave out the nerdy CES gadgets, so here’s our pick for that category – the Xreal Air 2 Ultra – a spatial computing platform designed for augmented reality developers. It won’t ship until March, but you can pre-order now. The Air 2 Ultra can produce a sizable virtual screen for any of the following development environments:
- Nintendo Switch
- PlayStation 5
Wearing these glasses, the developer experiences their app similar to how vehicles provide a heads-up display of the dashboard information. Instead of windshield calibrations, you calibrate your app or part as it appears before you.
7. Jackery Explorer
While Jackery touts its entry into the CES gadgets of snazziness as suitable for power outages and camping trips, we thought of it as one of the perfect golf cart upgrades. This 1002Wh power station weighs about 22 pounds and can charge or power up to eight devices at one time. Recharge it in eight to 14 hours, depending on whether you plug it into a wall outlet, a solar panel, or an automobile’s cigarette lighter port.
What better way to extend the fun of your next foursome than by having enough battery power to recharge everyone’s phones, including the caddies’? With the Explorer, you’ll have enough power to keep the golf cart going, too, if the golf match runs long, but the cart’s batteries run short.
Jackery produces its own line of solar panels, too. It uses its products in conjunction with its Explorer power station, so when its website states that the power station charges in eight hours using a solar panel, it refers to its panel designed specifically to work with this power station. You may experience different results if you charge it with a solar panel you already own or one of lower power wattage than the 100-watt or 200-watt panels that Jackery manufactures.
8. Trek Fetch Plus 2
A quick spin on the Trek Fetch Plus 2 will get you out of the used equipment area at the sporting goods store and shopping at the bike store. What? You didn’t expect a new bicycle among the CES gadgets? Neither did we, so the Trek company shocked us, but happily. This electric cargo bike can tote up to 175 pounds of cargo and comes with a cargo rack built-in. Add some of the company’s side totes to make transporting groceries or other items easier.
Take the back roads to school or work on this plucky electric wonder that can reach speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. By adding the “family pack kit” that Trek offers, you can seat two toddlers to kindergartners behind you on this bike. Charge it at home and keep this handy bike ready to roll at all times.
Although Trek touts this bike as ideal for commuters, its top speed of 20 mph means it misses being highway-legal. A vehicle must travel at a speed of 45 mph or faster in the U.S. to travel on interstates and highways. Trek sells appropriate helmets and other safety gear separately.
9. Belkin Auto-Tracking Stand Pro
Provide dimensional accuracy for your video streams and filmmaking projects using the Belkin Auto-Tracking Stand Pro. A 40-year veteran of the electronics industry, Belkin impressed attendees with its CES gadgets this year, especially its device that works with Dock Kit to provide subject tracking for the iPhone’s built-in camera. The Stand Pro follows the camera subject within 360 degrees of pan and 90 degrees of tilt, providing vloggers with a new, powerful tool that can make their productions look more professional.
By automating camera tracking, Belkin has provided vloggers with the production capabilities of hiring a trained camera operator with a truck and dolly system. Instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars though, they can purchase the Stand Pro for less than $200. For its contribution to home videos and amateur filmmaking, we ensconced Belkin on the 2024 top nine list.
2024 Quick Mentions at CES
Though these nine devices grabbed our attention and held it, we noticed a few other things, too. We’ll skip over the $25,000 television sets and $7,000 whole-home backup generators, instead focusing on the useful and affordable. Here are our favorite small gadgets.
If you miss cellphones that feature full QWERTY keyboards, Clicks offers a clip-on version for iPhones. Offered in a slew of colors and featuring a backlit display, for about $140, this gadget lets you transform your iPhone into a powerful Blackberry. The keyboard fits around the phone, so it also offers a bit of extra protection for it.
RCA introduced a combination pet camera and food dispenser for a price point of about $100. Schedule your pet’s feedings or manually dispense their meal via a smartphone app. The feeder holds six liters of dry food, so you can conceivably take an emergency overnight business trip without needing to find a pet sitter. Purchase two and fill the other with fresh water.
The Milo Action Communicator works like a walkie-talkie, except hands-free and long-range. With a set of these communicators, wander as far as 5,000 feet from one another (about one mile) and remain in touch. MiloAI lets you know when you come into the range of one of your hiking, biking, or skiing partners. Use it with Bluetooth or a wired headset.
What Will Next Year’s CES Hold?
Every year’s CES differs. The massive technology trade show offers more than 45 categories of technology. In past years, businesses debuting items in the categories of accessibility, cybersecurity, fintech, and privacy have drawn the interest of attendees because of their contributions to the industry. The smart homes category continues to create interest, as does the IoT/Sensors category. Attending or following the stories that come out as CES unfolds provides the only way to know what next year brings.
As soon as one year’s show closes, CST opens the registration process for the following year. That means if you create a startup this year and build your minimum viable product (MVP) before the show opens on January 7, 2025, you could debut your product there. If that seems a little soon, shoot for the 2026 show, open from January 6 to 9. While many major corporations debut their new tech at CES, the tradeshow offers a distinct category devoted to startups to encourage development from all sizes of companies and experience levels.