At CES, green technologies have an increasingly important share
Las Vegas (awp/afp) – It’s rare to see an entrepreneur pitch the plant as the latest consumer tech development at CES, the major electronics trade show in Las Vegas.
That’s how Patrick Torbey, one of the two founders of the NeoPlants startup, greeted some of the tens of thousands of attendees who come to the show every year after the New Year.
“We’re here at CES to drive home the following message: It’s not just about machine technology and electronics. It’s also about natural technologies that we can harness using engineering techniques,” Mr Torbey told AFP.
Paris-based NeoPlants was showing off its innovation: a biotech plant that can capture toxic pollutants from an indoor environment and “do the work of 30 common houseplants.”
Environmental technology has steadily gained ground at CES since the show’s inception fifty years ago.
However, some observers question the real commitment to environmental protection by the consumer technology industry, which is more attracted to smart TVs and robots than to more complex and less profitable projects designed to save the planet.
“Until it really matters to consumers, it’s going to be kind of a sidelined trend,” said Ben Arnold, consumer electronics analyst at research firm NPD.
“As someone who studies the market, I don’t yet see where green technology makes a difference in terms of units and dollars,” he said.
Ran Roth, director of technology company Sensibo, agrees that the most successful products are those that make financial sense.
He offers AI-based products and sensors to better control air conditioning, a significant concern in the often sweltering heat of Israel, where his company is based.
Sensibo’s sensors measure humidity and temperature and analyze each user’s habits using software that saves energy and money.
“Challenge of the Century”
According to him, unlike “green” technologies, which often fail to achieve this goal, new technologies must be profitable if they want to develop.
“The best thing about smart thermostats is that they are readily available and offer the best return on investment,” says Roth.
However, with climate change worsening, industry watchers say big tech companies are under increasing pressure to meet sustainability goals.
Abhijit Sunil of Forrester Research notes: “We’ve seen public condemnation of organizations that engage in greenwashing (the misuse or misleading use of environmental arguments for advertising purposes, editor’s note) this past year.”
“That’s why many organizations are focusing on what they label as sustainability initiatives and are now as transparent as possible,” he said.
Mr. Sunil believes that it is in the industrial sector that we see the greatest progress in terms of environment.
However, he acknowledges that the consumer products sector may be lagging behind in the environmental transition.
Product design, manufacturing and packaging are the most open areas to be explored in terms of environmental technologies.
One of the inventions awarded at CES is a robot that can detect and prevent water leaks in underground pipes, produced by French startup ACWA Robotics.
In France, 20% of drinking water is wasted due to pipe leaks.
For ACWA engineer Elise Lengrand, the fight for the environment is “the challenge of the century.”
“I mean, it’s really nice to do big TV and all that, but (the environment) is really important,” he told AFP.