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CES Day 3

January 8, 2016

Today was my final day at CES 2016, and on the docket was Tech West at the Sands Expo Center (attached to The Venetian). Full disclosure, I only did Level 2 at The Sands, which is where all the big companies were (and lots of small ones too). Level 1 was nearly just as big, but full of “science fair” booths for startups and other smaller firms without the bigger marketing budgets that, honestly, my feet just weren’t up to.

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Tech West plays host to several hot gadget areas, including health and fitness devices, kids/education, 3D printing and scanning, robotics, and home automation. I’m not the most fit athletic build you’ve ever seen, but I did snoop around and see some interesting stuff that you might be interested in. 😉

Upon entering the hall everyone is drawn to netamo’s outdoor security camera display, where they were demonstrating the ability to recognize people vs animals (vs aliens??). I’m hard to see in the pic, but I do have my #3 Russell Wilson jersey on … I won’t be blamed for missing Blue Friday during the playoffs. GO HAWKS! For the record, it correctly identified me as a person, so I’ve got that going for me.

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Withings has gotten a lot of press at CES this year for their new thermometer, but they also had some really nice looking smart watches there too. If that’s your thing, include them in your perspective device browsing.

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I stopped by FitBit’s booth to see if anything caught my eye there. I really like the Garmin device I saw yesterday (I think I want something that combines smartwatch with fitness tracker in a small tracker format) but I’ve already got a data history with FitBit (though I did take a year or so off from using my FitBit One – I just restarted before leaving for CES). While nothing caught my eye for exactly what I’m looking for, they did have their new Blaze to show off. It’s a big device, but I like that the unit itself is able to be popped off one watch band/frame and inserted into another. From a brief conversation with someone at the booth it sounds like their pricing for bands is relatively reasonable, compared to the likes of Apple.

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Peleton has been advertising their new connected stationary bike experience a lot on TV and I was interested to see it in person. I guess 9am is either too early for those party animals, or they were all out riding their bikes – nobody was home at their booth. The bike looks nice, if that’s you’re thing.

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Speaking of bikes, this Japanese company 3D printed one. WOW. They also have a turn-key solution … for whatever you want to turn a key to do. It has WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, and you can trigger anything you want through IFTTT or other methods. Would be cool to be able to turn the Internet off at home with a key. Winking smile

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There were a couple personal breathalizers at the show, though none of them were marketing themselves as “figure out when you’re okay to drive again after getting tanked.” They must have good lawyers. Puff puff and the Bluetooth connected app on your phone can tell you whether it’s time for another glass of merlot. They were even touting integration with Apple Health (remember how shit-faced you got last weekend? no, well your phone does.)

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These were nifty looking glasses (and snow goggles) with a camera in them. The lenses are replaceable, and when they’re out the frames are incredibly flexible.

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The Girl Scouts were there again this year drumming up interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) – especially for girls, I would imagine. I didn’t stay long, since they were also pushing their online ordering website … the one that charged me 33% of my order total for shipping last year, including for the 5 boxes of cookies (money) I donated to the troops overseas. WTF? SCREW THAT MESS. I excused myself before I used unladylike language – and it’s not like the kids made that decision, I’d just end up being the asshole yelling at a Girl Scout in front of 150K people.

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This is a fancy new touch screen remote control. I politely informed them that nobody can feel for the volume down button in the dark without tactile buttons. They hadn’t thought of that. I’m sure they’ll be fine (not). But of course because it’s all fancy they got a CES Honoree award.

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The one thing my wife asked of me this week was to visit the Square Panda booth. They teamed up with Andre Aggasi’s education foundation to develop some really captivating phonics and reading tools, including hardware and engaging apps for the kiddos. It’s really wonderful and I can see our 4 year old getting a lot of use out of this. Do go check them out – my wife already got a pre-order in based on my investigation today.

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Wonder Workshop was also at CES again – we got in on their initial Kickstarter campaign about 18 months ago and got a full compliment of robots and accessories from them for Christmas last year. Unfortunately our 10 year old hasn’t taken to them as much as we’d hoped, but I think that might change. They’re a great tool to teach programming concepts, as you can see in the video. New this year is a catapult. LOOK OUT CATS!

 

Edwin is the world’s first waterproof, haptic, light-up, bluetooth enabled, speaker, nightlight, learning device rubber duck bath toy. Seriously, this little device is really cool! It can be a nightlight, a play toy, a device that lets your child interact with a tablet (IOS or Android) to read books or do educational games. It can be a music box for your child at bedtime with internal tracks or you can stream Spotify or whatever your favorite music service is. I played a little game where the app told you a shape, like “rectangle”, and then you had to both find the rectangle amongst 4 different shapes on screen AND translate that into where on the duck to tap. Check them out at EdwinTheDuck.com.

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Next up is a $450 Liter Robot: Open Air. I got a demonstration – I’m pretty sure it was fake poo. The floor is rubber, and as the thing spins a weight drops to dislodge the stuff that usually sticks to the floor. If my daughter wants to stop having to clean the cat box herself, she needs to save up – the ball is in her court. 😉 Oh, and don’t worry – it has sensors to know when a cat is in there so kitty doesn’t go for a spin accidentally.

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Speaking of things that spin, Whirlpool had a big booth this year, as last year. They’ve got designer magnetic covers for your washer and dryer, including a chalk one the kids can get creative with (and then the chalk can get all over your clean clothes). Beyond that, I got a demo of their new fridge design that has adjustable shelves, but not the way you’re used to seeing them. You can slide the middle of the shelf back to make room for taller items from below, which actually has the benefit of making those back coners a lot easier to get too. There wasn’t a 21” tablet on the door and it won’t send you pictures of your current stock level like others I saw at CES this year, but this does seem like a really good idea. If I needed a fridge tomorrow I’d probably go get one of these.

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Your paper airplanes are now powered, controlled by Bluetooth, and remote controllable while sending your a VR point of view. Yeah. Welcome to the future.

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Even the Swiss have been forced to modernize their watches.

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And now, robot dinosaurs.
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HumanScale has some really cool products. If you don’t have a standing desk, for example, you can make a standing workspace with their QuickStand. Your keyboard, space for a mouse, and your screen all instantly raise up with the touch of a lever (it’s counter-balanced hydrolics instead of motorized, meaning you can adjust the height 10X quicker than the standard motorized desk). They’ve got a hydrolic desk too, if you want the full deal. If you have lots of monitors but want to keep things simple, check out their M/Power solution that serves as a set of monitor arms with a power hub and, when combined with an M/Connect USB docking station, allows you to drive all those monitors (and anything else) through a single USB3 cord to your laptop. SNAZZY!

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There are a lot of workout tech gadgets and makers, and a lot of young people hired to work out for the visual enticement of potential buyers. Some of these booths have “dancing” ladies on treadmills, full CrossFit gyms, and basketball courts that track players and the ball in real time. It’s nuts.

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I came across another Redmond, WA company and got lots of GO HAWKS! Sensoria, which happens to be started by a former Microsoftie, has a line of fitness trackers that actually ARE your socks. Great for runners, you can analyze your strike patterns, etc. and get coaching advice from their app. They have more traditional trackers as well. Side note: why is this dude creeping on the mannequin in the sports bra? SHOW SOME RESTRAINT!

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Track your dog for $5/month with this GPS cellular collar.

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Play with your cat from your office and post a picture to Instagram. That’s right, a remote-controlled laser pointer that has a camera in it.

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TomTom: Nobody buys GPS devices anymore, but we heard of these things called wearables so we’re going to give that a go.

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iHealth: with an “i” in the name, it *has* to be good.

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I’m suprised I haven’t seen this pedal-powered bike/car/thing around Redmond.

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LEGO! They’ve got a new LEGO Education kit that seems really cool for classrooms. With one kit you can build dozens of different tools and devices, all powered by a motor and Bluetooth controller. The kit also has a couple different sensors and a programming language so you can teach physical science and computer science at the same time. COOL!!!

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This company has won a crap ton of awards for putting shitty speakers inside of a headband. No joke. I inquired on this line of thinking with one of the founders – he can’t believe it either.

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In the same light, CES bestowed a “BEST of Innovation” award this year to a fish finder that you can drop into a frozen lake on the end of a fishing line. I’m not disparaging this product, but if THIS is the height of innovation this year, we need to try harder.

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Here’s one for my dad, who blew up an oven once after broiling a steak when he forgot to turn off the burner when the meal was done (he closed the oven door … we had quite a fireworks show about 15 minutes later). Basically it’s a thermostat that, if it senses that very condition, will kill power to the appliance. I love you Dad!

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Swarovski: We bring the bling!

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I have a Quell pain relief device; I bought into their Kickstarted immediately after talking to them at CES last year. It’s amazing, and has done wonders for my knee (replacement 3 years ago) and significantly reduced the amount of pain meds I needed after shoulder surger this past May. It also helps make these long days on my feet at CES more bareable. I got a chance to talk to their CEO and one of their product managers, and I took the opportunity to both thank them for an amazing product and offer a few suggestions. They’re already working on a few tweaks and improvements, which should be out in a few months. Can’t wait! If you suffer from chronic pain, I can’t recommend Quell highly enough. And no, I’m not getting any kickbacks from them – this is my own personal opinion and experience. Your mileage may vary.

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3D printing is cool, and there’s even more stuff at CES this year than last. The quality is remarkably better this year too, and we’re starting to see products that allow printing of flexible cloth-like material, printing in color (faces, etc), and all sorts of other coolness with the advances in 3D scanning. Here’s just some of what was at CES this year, and yes – that red hand is a prototype from the project that’s developing 3D printed artifical limbs!

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No stay with me here … the company behind last year’s CES darling (and purveyor of awesome e-Ink mechanical display boards) ooVoo is called Krush, and this year they went all in on an emersive VR rig called Moveo. It’s a 3-axis motion pod combined with a Oculus display that allows the participant to do just about whatever the hell they want. It was a huge booth with an LED display ceiling (because why not) for a product that, and I quote a guy I talked to here, “doesn’t really have a business plan right now, but it’s been so popular we’re going to go figure one out next week.” Ah, that .COM bubble-era spirit is still alive!

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Really nice picture frame, but even more impressive is the completely flat power cable that you can paint over. I honestly didn’t even see the vertical run of the cable until I was about 6 inches from the wall (in the 3rd/bottom picture it’s running from the blank white wall plate up to the display).

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And home stuff. LOTS and lots of home stuff. So much stuff that everything interfered with everything else wirelessly (a couple of the demos I saw were having issues, and my Pebble Steel lost connectivity to my phone 4 times, rebooting once).

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Win 2 points of off a ping-pong champ from Argentina in a game to 11 and get a free device. Many attempted. I don’t think many succeeded.

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Incredibly awesome LED bulb that looks like an old-school filament. It was just being used as a display item, so I didn’t get any product details – but I did get a pic of the base of one. I can see this being a really popular item for certain design applications. They look fantastic.

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I might pick up one of these garage winches. Each will lift 100 pounds, and they’re controlled wirelessly from your phone. Even better, they’ll communicate with each other in a gang to lift heavier stuff, and they’ll adjust gearing to make sure the load is lifted evenly if the weight isn’t evenly distributed. Perfect for a bike or other stuff you may have lying around.

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Bosch: We make some of the things, and we also make things inside of lots of other things. We also make a fridge with cameras in it so you can see what you’re out of if you’re aleady at the store.

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And to round out the day, Microsoft. Only pseudo-officially at CES. No booth, just a crap-ton of rooms reserved for exec/partner meetings and a GIGANTIC sign.

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I’ll be posting a CES recap tomorrow. Time for a late dinner and packing up to head out in the morning.

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