6 gadgets debuting at the Consumer Electronics Show that may change lives for the better.

New year. New gadgets. It's time for the Consumer Electronics Show.

In January, the world's best innovators come together in Las Vegas to showcase their latest gadgets, wonders, and game-changers in the consumer electronics space (devices an individual could buy and use in their daily life).

Products like the VCR, CD player, DVR, and even HDTV made their debut at the CES, and each year, tech pundits and trend-watchers look to the event to speculate as to which devices we'll be clamoring for next.


The insider-only event has grown from 14 exhibiting companies in 1967 to over 3,600 in 2016. This year's show, held Jan. 6-9, is expected to attract more than 150,000 visitors.


The crowded floor at CES 2016. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

While many of the products are fun, if a little self-indulgent, there are countless gadgets, wearables, and apps debuting at the CES 2016 that may really help people and the places we call home.

From improving our health to cleaning up the environment, these six items from the CES have us totally geeked for 2016.


1. The Luminion: a beautiful home-energy tracker

The Luminion, a new device by French company Ubiant, is more than just a pretty light. The gadget lets you know how much energy your house is using and, thanks to the company's cloud-based energy management system, lets you compare your usage to that of your community.

That's one badass candle. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

According to Ubiant, the device "encourages users to adopt best practices and reducetheir energy consumption by up to 20%."

So it's no surprise the Luminion took home a 2016 CES Innovation Award in the category of Tech for a Better World.

2. This affordable 3D Pen by XYZprinting

This 3D pen allows you to "draw" sculptures. A corn-based plastic material is pushed through the tip of the pen in liquid form but cools rapidly so the user can draw 3D sculptures without a computer or expensive, complicated software like AutoCAD.

Draw me like one of your French sculptures. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

With an expected retail price of just $49, this pen has the potential improve accessibility to 3D design not just for dabblers and hobbyists, but for students, teachers, and schools.

3. Kolibree's interactive gaming toothbrush

This interactive gaming toothbrush from Kolibree makes remembering to brush your pearly whites just a little bit easier. The electric brush and corresponding app help make proper toothbrushing a fun and playful experience.


Because you don't have to brush all your teeth, just the ones you want to keep. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay is the most common chronic condition of children in the United States, and 20% of kids ages 5 to 11 have at least one untreated cavity. Yikes! A device like this just might be worth the $99 price tag.

4. ili, the wearable translator that's straight out of "Star Trek"

Traveling is fantastic, but rarely does a person have time to master a language before heading overseas. But with the ili by Japanese company Logbar, you can have a translator with you at all times, right in your pocket.

Language barriers are soooo 2015. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

Just hold down the button and speak. When you release the button, the unit audibly translates your words into English, Chinese, or Japanese (more languages including French, Spanish, Arabic, and Korean are coming next). You can see the ili in action in this highly creepy advertisement.*

(*Upworthy does not condone the use of auto-language translators to persuade unwilling strangers to make out, but still — look at those language barriers breaking down!)

5. The newest in wearable tech: smart insoles from Zhor Tech

Fitness trackers are having a moment, with 1 in 10 adults owning some kind of wearable one. But connected foot software from Zhor Tech provides information (and control) the likes of which we haven't seen.

WHAT ARE THOOOOOSE? Photo by David McNew /AFP/Getty Images.

These smart shoes and insoles can monitor physical constraints, alert an employer or loved one about an injury, or even signal your location if you get lost.

Special inserts even feature an app-controlled heating element if you're in extreme conditions. And of course, it counts your steps.

6. Rechargable batteries that don't require a bulky charger

These batteries from USBCELL look and run like traditional AA versions, but when they die, you can pop the top and charge them in your USB port.

Power up! Photo by David McNew /AFP/Getty Images.

The batteries can be charged hundreds of times and help save room in landfills, where billions of traditional batteries end up each year.

These are just a small sampling of the products at CES 2016.

With thousands of exhibitors, there are enough devices, apps, drones, and mind-melting tech to make your head spin in the very best way.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

What a time to be alive!

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less