At CES, green technologies carve out an increasing share…
At the big CES electronics show in Las Vegas, it’s rare to see an entrepreneur branding a plant to present it as the latest consumer tech breakthrough.
However, this is how Patrick Torbey, one of the two founders of the NeoPlants start-up, greeted some of the tens of thousands of participants who went to this show, which is held every year after the New Year.
“We’re here to drive home the following message at CES: It’s not just about mechanical and electronics technology. It’s also about natural technologies that we can use using engineering techniques,” Mr. Torbey explained to AFP.
Paris-based NeoPlants presents its innovation: a biotech plant that captures toxic pollutants from the indoor environment and “does the work of 30 ordinary house plants,” according to its website.
Environmental service technology has steadily gained ground at CES since the exhibition began fifty years ago.
Some observers, however, question the consumer technology industry’s true commitment to environmental protection, which is more attracted to smart TVs and robots than more complex and less profitable projects aimed at saving the planet.
“Until it really matters to consumers, it’s going to be kind of a sidelined trend here,” said Ben Arnold, consumer electronics analyst for research firm NPD.
“As someone who studies the market, I have yet to see where environmentally friendly technology makes a difference in terms of units and dollars,” he added.
Ran Roth, director of technology company Sensibo, agrees that the most successful products are those that make financial sense.
He offers artificial intelligence-based products and sensors to better manage air conditioning, a significant concern in the often sweltering heat of Israel, where his company is based.
Sensibo sensors measure humidity and temperature, and use software that analyzes each user’s habits, saving energy and money.
– “Challenge of the century” –
According to him, new technologies must be profitable if they want to develop, unlike the so-called “green” technologies that often fail to achieve this goal.
“The great thing about smart thermostats is that they are readily available and offer the best return on investment,” says Roth.
As climate change worsens, however, industry observers say big tech companies are under increasing pressure to meet sustainability goals.
“We witnessed a public outcry against organizations that engage in greenwashing (abusive or fraudulent use of ecological arguments for advertising purposes, editor’s note) last year,” said Abhijit Sunil of Forrester Research.
“Many organizations are guarding what they call their sustainability initiatives and now they are as transparent as possible,” he said.
Mr. Sunil believes that in the industrial sector we will see the most significant progress in terms of the environment.
However, he acknowledges that the consumer goods sector may be lagging behind in its ecological transition.
Product design, manufacturing and packaging are the most obvious areas to explore 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 made by French start-up ACWA Robotics.
In France, 20% of drinking water is wasted due to leaking pipes.
For ACWA engineer Elise Lengrand, the fight for the environment is “the challenge of the century”.
“I mean, sure it’s really cool to make a big TV and all that, but (the environment) is really what matters,” she added to AFP.