The coronavirus has forced much of America to go into lockdown. But last week in Berlin, the IFA consumer electronics trade show took place with actual attendees, even if it was kept limited to just 5,000 people. One of the hottest products at the show wasn't a television or a washing machine, the typical marquee offerings at IFA, but a battery-powered air mask with a built-in purifier, by LG Electronics.
The air mask is just another reminder of the different world we're in -- one where we're all more cognizant of washing our hands and staying germ free as we keep apart from each other. The pandemic has also meant consumer electronics companies have had to make some shifts when it comes to prioritizing features and products, and that consumers don't necessarily care about the traditional bells and whistles you might expect on a new appliance or device.
"Oh my god, it changed everything," LG Chief Technology Officer I.P. Park said in an interview last week.
Park joined CNET to discuss how the company juggled both a virtual and physical presence at the IFA trade show, and to talk about some of the new products that directly address what's going on with the pandemic. In the first part of the interview, Park speaks about 5G in South Korea.
In addition to the mask, which he said his design and engineering team turned around in a short time, he also mentioned the company's clothes-steamer product now including an antivirus cycle. He also talked about LG robots that make noodles, and others that act as servers, removing the human element almost completely from a restaurant. In general, he said, the company is seeing higher interest and demand in its products.
This shift may have long-lasting effects on how the industry views its products, he added.
"Even if the pandemic passes, all of these are very, very important, and safety is one of the most important things that we are looking into," said Park, who spoke to me via videoconference from Seoul. Earlier that day, he'd appeared at IFA via a teleconference setup and as a taped "hologram."
Now What is a video interview and panel series with industry leaders, celebrities and influencers covering the major changes and trends impacting business and how consumers connect in the "new normal" 2020 world and beyond. There will always be change in our world, there will always be technology helping us navigate that change, and we'll always discuss surprising twists, turns and potential solutions.
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