Green technology is fighting for the lead at the CES gadget fest
LAS VEGAS (AFP) – At the CES tech megashow in Las Vegas, it’s not unusual to see an entrepreneur hold up a company and present it as the latest advancement in consumer technology.
But for Patrick Torbey, co-founder of NeoPlants, the meeting held every year after the new year should not be considered “only about the technology of machines and electronics.”
“It’s also about natural technologies that we can use using really cool engineering techniques,” Torbey told AFP.
NeoPlants, a Paris-based startup, has demonstrated a bioengineered plant that can clean indoor air of toxic pollutants “by doing the work of 30 common plants,” according to its website.
The number of environmentally friendly technologies at CES has continued to grow since the Sin City expo began fifty years ago.
But observers are often skeptical of the consumer technology industry’s commitment to environmental protection, with all the excitement focused on smart TVs and robotics. -mind rather than the more difficult and less profitable project of saving the planet.
“Until it really matters to consumers, it’s just going to be a mundane trend,” said NPD consumer electronics researcher Ben Arnold.
“As someone who studies the market, I haven’t seen any (environmental technology) change in terms of units and dollars,” he added.
Ran Roth, head of technology company Sensibo, agreed that successful devices are those that make financial sense and believes their products have done so.
Roth’s device uses artificial intelligence and sensors to better manage air conditioning, a major problem in Israel’s often hot climate, where his company is based.
Sensibo’s sensors measure humidity and temperature, and use software that learns a user’s habits, saving energy and money.
Roth said the new technology would have to have a “path to profitability” if it were to take off, a recurring shortcoming in so-called green technologies that often fail banks.
“The good thing about smart thermostats is that they are affordable and provide the highest return on investment,” said Roth, who called smart thermostats a “human right.”
But as the climate emergency worsens, industry observers say big tech companies are under increasing pressure to commit to sustainability goals.
“We’ve seen the public name and reputation of organizations that have indulged in laundry last year,” said Abhijit Sunil of Forrester Research.
“So many organizations are a bit wary of what they say is a long-term initiative and they are now as transparent as possible,” he said.
Sunil says the real progress in the environment will be seen at the industry level, admitting that the consumer gadget business may be a step behind when it comes to doubling down on going green.
Product design, production and packaging with an eye on waste and a company’s carbon footprint is the low-hanging fruit when it comes to environmental technology, he said.
One such company, ACWA Robotics, won recognition at CES for a robot dedicated to detecting and preventing water leaks in underground pipes.
In France, where the startup is located, 20 percent of drinking water is estimated to be lost due to leaking pipes.
The fight for the environment is “the challenge of a century,” ACWA Robotics engineer Elise Lengrand told AFP.
“I mean, sure, it’s really fun to do big TV and stuff, but this is the main thing,” he said.
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