CES 2015: Day 3 Report
It. Is. Finished. I survived CES 2015 and walked the vast majority of the expo show floors. If you haven’t read my other posts about this year’s Consumer Electronics Expo, check them out…
Since on the last 2 days I meandered through Tech East at the Las Vegas Convention Center, today was Tech West at the Sands Expo Center and the Venetian. Major themes at Tech West include health and fitness tech, education/kids, 3D printing, and wearable’s. Lots of brands I recognized where there, as well as some really cool startups. Here are some of the products and companies that caught my attention.
First off is the Girl Scouts of America – specifically their cookies, and not the browser tracking kind either. No free samples, but they were showing off their new online ordering system. Most importantly I registered to win a year’s supply of cookies … though I’m not sure 52 boxes of Thin Mints would quite be enough. 😉 I didn’t order any cookies yet, since I don’t know my local troop number to credit the purchase to (or get the delivery from), but I’m sure I’ll be placing an order REAL soon.
Next up was a startup called Switftpoint, and their modern take on the computer mouse called the Swiftpoint GT. Retailing for $129, this sweet little device naturally fits in your fingers and prompts a hand posture that’s similar to holding a pen, with your hand more vertical than the traditional mouse orientation where your palm is flatter to the surface of the desk. I was skeptical before picking it up, but was pleasantly surprised at how nice the device felt. Now you’re not paying that much for a mouse just because it’s small, you’re paying because it allows you to apply touch gestures to any computer, regardless of whether you have a touchscreen or not. Simply tilt the device slightly on it’s right edge and you invoke gesture mode, allowing you to scroll the screen and trigger swipe-in/up features in your OS and apps. The device runs on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android, and the rechargeable battery (charges from the USB dongle/dock) lets you run for about a month. Check out their website for a video of how it works. They were offering a purchase onsite discount of $30, but I couldn’t quite talk myself into puling the trigger. That’s the Swiftpoint GT in my hand in the picture on the right. It’s right-handed only right now, though someone else did ask about a lefty model while I was standing there. Sounds like they’re wanting to get off the ground a bit more before they invest in “designing” a left-handed version (what’s to design? just flip/mirror the design in your app!).
Next up to catch my eye was a set of toys to help teach kids about shapes, counting, and words. Tiggly combines 3 interactive apps plus shape kits that interact with those apps. For example, if the Chef asks for 4 strawberries your child can put down the “3” shape (the app senses it via your iPad or Android tablet’s touchscreen) and then the “1” shape. The shapes themselves simply conduct your bioelectric current to the screen – no batteries required. Think of the shapes as really fancy passive tablet pens. I could see our 3 year old at home really having fun with this, so I’m sure we’ll be getting these at home soon. The counting and shapes toys are available now, with the vowel toys coming this Spring. All the apps are free, so you’re just buying the toys. Counting toys work with 3 different apps: Tiggly Chef uses the counting toys to help make the Chef’s recipies, Tiggly Addventure teaches basic math like matching and counting. The shape toys work with Tiggly Safari, Tiggly Stamp, and Tiggly Draw.
There were a few vendors going after the kid market from a different angle, specifically through their parents who want to track where the heck their kids are. HereO is a cool-looking watch designed for kids 3+ to wear. It has GPS and a GSM (cellular) radio to ping back to the service the location of your child. HereO’s service runs $5/month per device and includes a smartphone app so you can receive alerts when you child gets home from school or leaves the neighborhood (you can set up both safe zones where the watch stops pinging location (say at home or at school) as well as boundaries it shouldn’t leave. You can of course also see where they are on a map via their app. They’re also working on the ability to send voice messages to (and from?) the watch. Devices and services anyone? 🙂 The watches come in several different colors and are downscaled to not be too bulky on your little one.
Paxie ditches the watch face but grows substantially in size and features, letting you track not only your rug rat’s location out in the hood, but can also tell you how cold it is out side so you know to make sure they put their jacket back on and keeps track of their heartrate and step/activity metrics. The band comes with multiple wraps so you can change the look of the device to match their outfit, which is critical for the discerning 4 year old.
If you want to turn the tables, you can have technology become your mother for you by using the Mother system. Effectively this is a combination of special tag devices that are sensed by the central control unity (i.e. Mother), who relays the data gathered to a series of apps. You can use this to remind yourself to take your pills (and where you left them), get a notice when your kids get home from school (just leave a tag in their backpack), know how warm each room in the house is, and how well you brush your teeth. I don’t get it, but the booth was packed and this won lots of awards at CES last year. Now where did I put my pills…?
If you want to teach your kids coding basics with markers you can do that too with the Ozobot. This booth had a lot of interest – and it was a great little toy. Just draw a path with a marker on a clean sheet of paper and the little robot follows it. Use different colors to make the device do different things, from changing colors on the LED light to turning directions, spinning around, etc. At intersections it randomly decides which way to go. The company has instruction sheets online, as well as premade sheets you can print out and use. Even adults can use it to drive a drinking game. 😉 The robot will also work on tablets (they’ve got an app to make it easy, but any drawing app should do). Might have to add this one to family game night.
I saw a few different variations on this theme as well – an audio headset that doesn’t actually sit in your ears. Instead these products sit right in front of your ears, but still produce vibrations that your ears can sense and translate into your favorite tunes. This is actually a great idea and I could see this being helpful for people who want to listen to music while out running or biking but still be able to hear what’s going on in their environment.
If you want to freak out the cat, or perhaps replace your cat with something that doesn’t vomit hairballs all over the house, might I suggest WowWee’s Roboraptor. This little guy reacts to it’s surroundings, including your voice commands or an app on your smartphone. You can play fetch, scare it and have it shake in fear, have it chase you around the house, or go after the cat. Looks like fun … but not for the cat.
Speaking of fun, the Panono Ball Camera looks really cool, even if the name does make me giggle like a 12 year old. It’s a softball-sized sphere with 36 cameras embedded inside that automatically takes a snapshot of every angle at the apex of your throw above the action. What’s captured my attention was their app that lets you view the resulting 108 megapixel image on a tablet leveraging the tablet’s accelerometers to pivot around the image from the point of view of the ball. Want to look to the right, turn yourself to the right. It was really addicting to play with in their iPad at the booth. There’s also a web viewer. Their goal is to let you view a low-res version of a pic from your tablet to make sure it’s a good shot, then upload the full versions via USB later, rather then waiting for the full image to download over Bluetooth. Storage is 400 pics. I joked about not catching the ball … the engineer suggested that it would really be best if it was caught. 😉 Shipping this coming Spring, and there’s an optional tripod mount if throwing a $550 device up in the air sounds like a bad idea. They’ve got some samples up on their website.
I was impressed by the smart credit card solutions displayed by Dynamics. Essentially they have a programmable credit card format that can be custom-tailored to your needs. One model I got to play with is a pin-secured card that won’t work unless you put the right code in, and only then does it show the whole cc number and unlock the magnetic swipe *and* the contact chip *and* NFC tap-to-pay capability. There’s another option to have a dynamic CVC2 code generated for each online transaction. Pretty spiffy. Good demo video on their website.
One of the little booths I stopped by had a prototype of a USB3-based network switch that allows TCP/IP Ethernet connectivity over USB3. $200 let’s you connect 2 machines at 5Gbps – not too shabby! Check out www.devellab.com if you’re interested. They won a CES Innovation Award and are looking to launch via a Kickstarter round in the next month or two. Nice guys too – they talked me up about how awesome and easy the Windows platform was to work with to develop their solution on, and their demo was with a Surface Pro 3!
For my mom I took a quick spin around Brother’s booth to see some really cool-looking fabric/sewing devices for cutting intricate patterns and embroidery. My mom has a long-arm quilting machine permanently sitting in my folks’ formal dining room, so it’s a good thing she wasn’t here with me – she’d still be talking the Brother reps ears off. 😉 And I just thought they made little label printers…
Next up was another gadget that will likely make it home to my house at some point in the near future – the Grillbot. It’s effectively a Roomba for your grill. Just sent it for the desired run time (10, 20, 30 minutes), close the lid, and go play with the kids – or do whatever’s next on your chore list.
Another really cool tech that drew me in was Quell. This is a medical device that, in CNet’s words, “hacks your brain to relieve chronic pain.” I had a partial left knee replacement 2 years ago, and while it’s way better than any point in the last 2 decades, I still get a lot of aches and pains in the joint – especially as I get more active now that my knee actually works well. The Quell pain relief system is based on TENS therapy that uses small electric currents to trigger a blocking response to pain wherever it originates from in your body. It’s going to be available this Spring, is FDA approved, and should retail for about $250. Color me VERY interested.
One of the biggest trends at Tech West was 3D printing and scanning. I’ve head of MakerBot before, but that was about it. This is definitely a big trend for everything from home decor to DIY toys to industrial design/prototyping/production. There were even solutions to allow printing circuit paths in your creation, as demonstrated by a 3D printed drone. Effectively all of these 3D printers do the same thing – take plastic filament of various colors and textures (think of big weed whacker string spools) and then melt/extrude the substance into a pre-defined design. Some of the creations were simply amazing, including a full band (drums, guitar, and bass), a recliner, and lots more. There’s even edible medium that can be used to create deserts, cakes, etc. YUM! Here’s some of what I saw…
No celebrity sightings today, but there was this guy who could hold his breath for along time. Didn’t stay to see how long, but saw him meditating to slow down his heart rate, etc. Tech tie-in was that they stuck a oxygen and heart rate monitor on his finger. 😉
I’ll leave you tonight with a cool display wall for the OoVoo booth (they do IM, voice, video conferencing – evidently that’s a thing again. 😉 Not sure what this display had to do with the product, but the tech itself was mesmerizing to watch.
Daily miles walked: 6.1
Cumulative CES miles walked: 28.1 (more coming later tonight for dinner and the Beatles LOVE show over at the Mirage)