This IoT device transforms the roads into integral sensory networks that collect data in real time to make the trips safer and facilitate the arrival of the autonomous car. Credit: Valerann.

  • Innovation


The CES, the main global technology event held in Las Vegas at the beginning of the year, brings us the most advanced devices and trends, from mobile phones to televisions, but also new gadgets designed to make life in cities healthier, safer and more sustainable.


The CES, the world's largest technology fair held annually in early January in Las Vegas, showcases the most advanced, and also the strangest, devices on the planet, and promises to provide an early look at upcoming trends, from TVs that physically rotate between portrait and landscape mode to sync with your mobile device, to beds that heat up, helmets to help us sleep or lasers that hunt down mosquitoes. There are also technologies with the potential to revolutionize our cities. The future of smart cities can be seen in these seven devices that the CTA (Consumer Technology Association), the association that organizes the event, has recognized as the most innovative in the category of smart cities in its 2020 Innovation Awards.

IoT for an eco-sustainable modular farm

This modular vertical farm allows vegetables to be grown in a totally controlled environment. Its systems constantly monitor the growing environment, temperature, humidity and pest control. In this way, production more than 10 times higher than on traditional land is achieved. In addition, the modular structure allows for greater scalability. Users can start with a small number of crops and easily expand the farm depending on demand.

Smart water management with sensors

One out of every three litres of fresh water used in the world is lost through undetectable leaks, according to Protectonnect. The company has developed a device with consumption and leak detection sensors to prevent this. It is, in the words of its creators, "the world's first water management solution scalable from a single house to an entire city." The user has a mobile application that informs them in real time of the detection of a leak. It also allows users to visualize at any time the expenses related to their water consumption, establish objectives in this respect and receive an alert if it is exceeded.

Planty Cube is a modular vertical farm that uses IoT to cultivate high quality vegetables in a fully controlled and monitored environment, ensuring a scalable solution that increases production up to 10 times. Credit: n.thing.

A wearable device with 360º camera

FITT360 LIVES is a kind of collar that can be especially useful in emergency situations. This device, which has three cameras and is used to make 360º video calls, has been recognized in both the smart city and the virtual and augmented reality categories. Users can share real-time audio and video of what is happening around them with up to four people. Thus, in emergency situations it can help citizens or even professional staff to take action by receiving instructions from medical support staff.

A voice assistant for the smart city

The ability to search by voice continues to grow, having extended to smartphones, smart speakers, televisions and even laptops. Experts predict that voice will be the predominant interaction between humans and machines in the future. Therefore, the list of winners in the category of smart cities would not be complete without a voice assistant. Vivoka, a French company specializing in voice recognition, has created Zac. This assistant, which is designed to help people in different public spaces in the city, can understand the identity, emotions, gender and age of users.

Real-time data to ease traffic congestion

Tackling traffic congestion is one of the main challenges facing large cities. The IoT RADAR device can help achieve this. It monitors the number of vehicles on the road, their speeds and the occurrence of accidents with 95% accuracy. In addition, it can detect up to 128 vehicles at a time over a distance of 300 metres and in four different lanes. This massive collection of real-time traffic data can help improve today's navigation systems. In addition to being used as radar, it can also be used for surveillance, home security or collision avoidance.

The voice assistant Zac has been designed to help people in public spaces and is able to recognize identity, identify emotions, gender and even age of users. Credit: Vivoka.

Sensor-embedded roads 

Making travel faster and safer and facilitating the arrival of autonomous vehicles. This is the goal of Valerann, a company that has developed an IoT device that transforms roads into data-generating, connected infrastructure. Roads are equipped with six different sensors that run on solar energy and are designed to replace existing road markings.

Its creators claim that it "transforms roads into a comprehensive sensor network for less than 20% of the cost of current solutions." Among other features, it can track the exact driving pattern of each vehicle on the road and provide real-time information to drivers about potential hazards or road conditions. For example, its lighting can turn blue if there is ice on the road or a red light can flash at a driver if they are driving in the wrong direction.

Smart detector of objects and behaviour

Decton device detects, tracks and accurately classifies different objects and behaviours. For example, it is able to recognize the speed and location of an item in real time. When placed in different locations, it can have different functions: from traffic management to toll and parking optimization, urban planning, public safety or emergency response. According to its creators, all the information collected by the system is anonymized.

Energy efficiency, which was the focus of much of the debate last year, continues to be present in this edition of CES, which, however, also puts the focus on transport and infrastructure management, especially on travel within cities with the advent of electric and autonomous vehicles. In any case, the interaction between man and machines, the question of safety or of sustainability, continue to be protagonists when it comes to the technological development of these smart cities.

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Tungsteno is a journalism laboratory to scan the essence of innovation. Devised by Materia Publicaciones Científicas for Sacyr’s blog.

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