CES 2019 Recap: IoT Tech With a Social Impact

CES 2019 proved socially impactful IoT products are economically viable and technically impressive. Tech innovators should ask, “how can I help the world?”

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Illustration: © IoT For All

Doing Good with Emerging Technology

The phrase “Tech for Good” has been around for a while, but its weight is growing. As the world continues to press the envelope of technological achievements, we also see opportunities to improve the world around us. We aren’t claiming that every technology has a beneficial social impact, but there has been significant forward movement in fields such as sustainability, accessibility, public safety, and more.

Technology can and should improve how we interact with the world around us. In a time where corporate social responsibility drives a large amount of the popularity (or lack thereof) of companies, innovators should be thinking, “how can I help the world?” and not “how can the world help me?”

While at CES, we sought out some impressive products that are not only innovative but also beneficial to society. From surgical training tools to water arrays, the startups below impressed us with their ingenuity, professionalism, and mission.

Osso VR

We sat down with Dr. Justin Barad, Founder and CEO of Osso VR, to discuss their surgical training product. Osso VR offers a virtual reality (VR) platform that allows surgeons to train anywhere. According to Dr. Barad, research shows that 30 percent of surgical graduates are unable to operate independently following their residencies. Moreover, practicing surgeons rarely perform the 100 cases required to conduct a surgery safely.

A surgeon using Osso VR's training unit
Image Credit: Osso VR

Surgery can be a nerve-wracking event for a patient, but that anxiety should be quelled by the experience surgeons bring to the operating table rather than exacerbated by the lack thereof. Osso VR is bridging the gap between the classroom and the operating table by providing a realistic operating experience in VR. By allowing future surgeons to improve their surgical skills in a risk-free virtual environment, Osso VR shows us a world in which clinical safety can be improved and surgical error can be decreased through emerging technology.

Pepper IoT

Scott Ford, CEO of Pepper IoT, sat down with the IoT For All team to discuss security flaws plaguing current smart home solutions. More often than not, smart home devices are unsecured, sell our data to manufacturers and advertising companies abroad without adequate consent, or compromise security through backdoors. Pepper IoT has focused their efforts on creating a secure and reliable IoT platform for smart home products. For any smart home enthusiast, Pepper IoT offers a native app that integrates with many video and thermostat devices on the market.

The lack of security in some smart home devices is worrying. Fortunately, there are companies fighting to combat this. Pepper made our list of socially conscious startups by working with advocacy groups, bringing awareness to the security concerns related to home IoT products, and pushing for better regulation. Consumers trust transparency and the companies’ commitment to protecting consumer data. We imagine that we’ll continue to hear more of Pepper IoT as they advocate for smart home security.

Zero Mass Water

Zero Mass Water has built a product called Source: a completely off-grid, self-contained array that produces clean drinking water by harvesting molecules from the air. These molecules are then mineralized with calcium and magnesium inside the array. The array lasts for up to 15 years, offering long-term economic benefits compared to buying bottled water, water filtration systems, or water delivery.

Zero Mass Water Source Arrays

Unlike many technologies that consume our limited resources, Zero Mass Water utilizes air and sunlight to bring potable water to even the aridest environments. This could have a positive impact on every household and shared space across the globe due to its reliance on solar panels rather than unsustainably generated electricity. Technology that’s accessible, beneficial to all, and renewable truly exceeds the expectation for a socially conscious creation, which Zero Mass Water encapsulates to a “T.”

Tetra Countertop Dishwasher

Heatworks’ Tetra Countertop Dishwasher is a perfect example of easily adoptable yet highly sophisticated sustainable technology. The Tetra is a compact, countertop dishwasher that doesn’t require a water line but instead a standard outlet and a gallon of water in its reservoir. It utilizes Ohmic Array Technology, which leverages water natural conductivity for heating. What’s really striking is its ability to conserve 80 percent of the water and energy a traditional dishwasher consumes. One cycle takes ten minutes to run and doesn’t require a drop more water than the initial gallon, saving money for consumers and shrinking their ecological footprint simultaneously.

Building upon devices that are already commonly installed in millions of homes is incredibly important. It can stimulate competition against long-standing concepts by introducing more efficiency and requiring the field as a whole to improve its offerings. In this case, Heatworks has introduced a more efficient and sustainable option to the current general dishwasher. They have made the average individual rethink how they can improve their ecological footprint without changing their lifestyle too drastically.

Bringing It Home

We were inspired by many of the companies’ missions and technologies at CES 2019. There’s nothing more inspiring than seeing people fight for a better, safer, and more equitable world. At next year’s conference, we expect that an even greater number of exhibitors can be categorized under “Tech for Good.” We’ll be there cheering them on.