The most influential tech event in the world took place earlier this month.

While the 2022 CES had far fewer attendees than usual, the ideas of what some companies believe the future of tech will look like were impressive.

Many large companies and most of the press were not at the in-person Las Vegas event because of Covid-19 cases still surging. They still opted for exciting virtual reveals. 

Autonomous John Deere tractors, color changing cars, and a smart home for cats were just a few concepts revealed at this year’s annual trade show that was put on by the Consumer Technology Association.

Naturally there were also dozens of pitches about the metaverse, which have been generating major buzz in the last few months since companies like Facebook and recently Walmart have geared their focus to this 3D virtual world. 

Ina Fried, writing in Axios, joked that “Many CES observers suggested a drinking game in which keynote watchers took a shot every time the metaverse was mentioned—but that would have been a recipe for alcohol poisoning.” 

Let’s look at some of the unique gadgets that came out of 2022 CES, including buzz worthy “metaverse” products.

Automaker BMW revealed the world’s very first color-changing car. Through a well-known display technology that’s been in use for decades in devices like e-readers, the BMW iX Flow is wrapped in a complex skin of electronic paper panels, courtesy of E Ink.

“Imagine being able to instantly switch your vehicle’s exterior to white on a hot day to reflect the sun’s rays away instead. BMW has no plans to make a color-changing exterior an official option on new vehicles just yet, but it’s a design concept that many would be eager to embrace,” said Gizmodo’s Andrew Liszewski.

The world’s first foldable PC was also debuted at CES. Dubbed the Zenbook 17 Fold Oled, the company Asus has given the world a gigantic convertible tablet that can fold in half when you need to slip it into your bag.

“You can fold one panel 90 degrees and use the tablet as a traditional laptop with either the on-screen keyboard or an included detachable one. Or you can open the screen flat and use the kickstand on the back to prop the tablet upright when you’re watching movies on its 17.3-inch, 2.5K (2560 x 1920) OLED touchscreen. Included “ScreenXpert 2” software helps with moving windows around as you move from one mode to the next,” explained Phillip Tracy of Laptop Mag.

Smart homes were a key topic at the trade show this year and the world got a glimpse of The Schlage Encode Plus, which works with Apple’s Home Key feature in iOS 15.

“Once the deadbolt is installed and set up with Apple’s Home Key, you can walk up to your front door, tap your Apple Watch or iPhone to the smart lock, and then it just…opens. For added security, you can also choose to require Face ID, Touch ID, or a passcode on your iPhone to unlock the door,” said Gizmodo’s Florence Ion.

There were several pieces of metaverse technology to get excited about. 

Chinese electronics maker TCL unveiled smart glasses that enable you to take and share photos, but also navigate with GPS directions that are projected into your field of vision and set up a work display with multiple virtual monitors. 

Spain-based startup Owo revealed $450 haptic jackets that allow users to feel “a gunshot, the wind, someone grabbing your arm and even a hug from a loved one.”

Luxury brands like Gucci, Balenciaga and Burberry are planning digital fits to adorn digital users while PulpoAR will offer virtual makeovers. 

Samsung used this year’s CES to show off its take on the Second Life-like metaverse home complete with Samsung products. Automaker Hyundai also pitched into this idea, filling virtual homes with virtual robots. 

Despite a thinner crowd, the CES show this year offered many quirky gadgets and concepts that continue pushing the world into a virtual future.

Touchcast, a company that offers to accompany businesses to transition into the virtual world, developed a metaverse city for businesses where you can do “anything that you do in a physical city”.

“What does that mean?” asked Edo Segal, Touchcast’s CEO. “It means that companies can now securely start their migration into the metaverse.

“There’s a lot of buzz about the metaverse today. And it is in fact a new trend in the industry, and one that I think is going to evolve over the next roughly 20 years,” said Steve Koenig, Vice President for Research at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).