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Show review IFA


22


Gadgets galore! A


Europe’s largest tech show saw the arrival of the fi rst ‘Amazon TV’, but its smart furniture and cuddly robots were w ay more interesting. Jamie Carter paid a visit.


coffee and loose leaf tea and can wake you up with a cuppa ready to drink.


mazon made a TV. Kind of. What the TV industry always feared would happen one day finally did during IFA in Berlin; the retail giant announced its intention to sell 40, 49 and 55-inch 4K TVs through Currys PC World and Amazon.co.uk with built-in Fire TV tech. Exciting? Not really. The voice-enabled TVs in question are manufactured by JVC, and despite them being Alexa-powered, they barely featured in Amazon’s own section of the mighty Messe Berlin venue, that was instead dominated by gadgets that play nicely with Alexa. Far away from the likes of Samsung, LG, Sony and Philips, Amazon’s zone was cleverly placed within undoubtedly the most interesting part of the entire exhibition, IFA NEXT, where start-ups, new brands and research institutions hang out.


This year’s IFA NEXT was sponsored by Japan, the IFA Global Innovation Partner, and consequently there were a slew of incredible innovations from the Land of the Rising Sun. One of the most interesting was the mui Lab smart home control panel, a polished wood soundbar-style home hub device that also works as a touchscreen and a display. Online and linked to a smartphone,


Unusual home appliances on the main show floor included Samsung’s appliance “for refreshing clothing”; its AirDresser is essentially a wardrobe that looks like a mirrored refrigerator, which releases powerful jets of air to de-dust and sanitise clothes. The tech giant also previewed its prototype Bot Chef robot, an AI-powered (of course) chef’s assistant ‘cobot’ (collaborative robot) – visually little more than a giant pair of mechanical arms – that can chop, whisk, pour and clean. It can also just hold your smartphone while you read a recipe.


Above: Qooboo at IFA NEXT. Right: Vitrine and Panasonic’s Transparnt OLED TV


it displays messages, operates other devices in a smart home, and generally does nothing particularly ground-breaking. However, it does absolutely nothing unless you touch it. “It’s the opposite to a smartphone, which are always displaying information and disturbing us, forcing us to adapt


to them,” said Akikio Samsung’s AirDresser on display at IFA


Moriguchi at mui Lab. How Japanese! The same could be said about two slightly crazier innovations at IFA; the Inupathy dog mood sensor that lights-up in various colours according to your pet’s frame of mind, and the feline-shaped Qooboo cushion, which has a tail that moves when you stroke the ‘cat’. IFA NEXT also featured the Lancey e-radiator with a lithium-ion battery inside that can reinject energy into an air conditioning system, the Véritable Connect Smart Garden that autonomously grows aromatic herbs, edible flowers and baby vegetables all year round, and the Barisieur Tea and Coffee Brewing Alarm Clock. A makeover of the retro teasmade, the Barisieur makes both


In addition, for the first time in a long time everyone’s attentions were not on TVs. This year was all about how they look when switched- off. LG’s Rollable TV, the Signature OLED TV R, was in Berlin, complete with ‘Zero View’ when it disappears into the stand completely. IFA 2019 did see some new trends. Everything came in ‘aurora’ and ‘amber sunrise’, and other meaningless colours. Some brands even completely banished black from their line-ups. Alongside the colourful language, there were


rollable, foldable, hide-able and flexible devices all boasting ‘artificial intelligence’, while the ‘internet of things’ appears to have been side-lined for good.


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