With 170,000 attendees and over 3000 exhibitors at CES 2015, you could might overlook a gadget or two. With this disclaimer, here is this year’s list of Top 10 gadgets:
- Volvo Connected Bicycle Helmet. Three Swedish companies – Volvo, Ericsson, and POC – jointly developed this bicycling safety warning system, a welcome development given the 50,000 cyclists who are injured or killed each year in the United States. The helmet and vehicle connect and communicate using a smart phone app (Strava) and the cloud. If the vehicle is on a collision course with the bicycle, the system warns the driver and auto-brakes the vehicle and activates an alert light on the helmet. The system combines Ericsson’s communication technology with POC’s experience making protective gear for cyclists, and it is now standard in Volvo XC90 models. Hopefully, other auto manufacturers will incorporate this system.
- Bracketron’s EZCharge Dual Two-Way Port. This charger plugs into the 12-volt port in your car (nothing new). The nifty features of this charger are two USB ports that each accept the USB connector no matter which side is up when inserted. A bit pricey at $20.00.
- Kodak’s PIXPRO SP360 Action Cam. This small video cam (about Rubik’s Cube size) can do 360 degrees of filming in full HD/1080p using a single lens. It has Wi-Fi connectivity and can be controlled wirelessly with Android devices. Costs $349 at Radio Shack or Best Buy. And it’s worth noting that Kodak is back, licensing its technology and brand with product developers.
- Slow Control’s Baby Glgl Bottle. This baby bottle is enclosed in a hard plastic sleeve with an inclinometer that tracks the angle of the bottle and the weight. It helps protect against gas or colic by ensuring that the baby is not gulping in air; the bottle will light up with arrows when the angle should be adjusted to make sure baby is sucking in only milk. Uses three batteries and costs about $100.00.
- Weego Jump Starter Battery Pack (Professional JS18). This 12-volt lithium battery will fit in the glove compartment of your car. It comes with clamps and other accessories and can charge a 6.4L gas engine and a 4.8L diesel engine. You can also charge smart phones and laptops. Charging time for the battery pack itself is five hours. Costs is $190.00 on the Weego website.
- Oculus Rift VR Headset. This headset takes the viewer to a virtual world of games and other VR programming. Gaming is the first market for the headset, but there are already Hollywood studios exploring the creation of VR content, such as movies and story episodes, that would immerse the viewer into virtual worlds. The Oculus booth attracted lots of attention at CES 2015. Not inexpensive, however, at $350.00.
- WiTricity Rezence Wireless Charging. Several technology companies displayed and promoted wireless charging, including Intel and Qualcomm. I received a close-up demonstration from WiTricity of its magnetic resonance repeater technology for room-scale wireless charging. A source repeater connected to a power source can be integrated into carpeting and floor tiles and then transfer power to a capture repeater underneath a desk, countertop, or other surface. Placing your electronic device on the desk surface will wirelessly charge the device. Intel has partnered with WiTricity.
- Chamberlain’s MyQ Garage Door Opener. This is not your father’s garage door opener. Using Wi-Fi and your smart phone, you can check to see if the garage door is open and open or close the door from anywhere in the world. This is a do-it-yourself product (DIY). It integrates with Apple’s HomeKit and sells for about $130.00.
- NXT-ID’s WOCKET Smart Wallet. This electronic wallet from NXT-ID mobile security company can hold electronic versions of hundreds of credit and other cards, yet it is small enough to fit in your back pocket. It has a card reader, scanning capability, and a physical “universal” card. Credit cards can be swiped through the card reader to capture the electronic data needed to pay by credit card. Leave your cards at home. When you are ready to pay, select on the screen the card you will use which will embed the data onto the universal card that you give to sales clerk. Other cards and identifications can be scanned into this smart wallet. For now, this can only be pre-ordered on the NXT-ID website. Not sure what you do when a cop pulls you over and asks for your driver’s license.
- Minidrones. Drones (UAV — unmanned aerial vehicles) seemed to be everywhere at CES 2015, but the two drone manufacturers that caught my attention are Parrot and Zano. Parrot had a cool demonstration of multiple Rolling Spider MiniDrones flying around and over several MiniDrone Jumping Sumos. FreeFlight3 is an app to use to control the MiniDrones. Product reviews indicate there may be problems with battery charging time and holding the charge (maybe a little as eight minutes). Costs about $100.00 from Amazon. Zano’s Nano Drone is getting off the ground with Kickstarter funding. Tilting the phone can direct the movement of the drone. Looks like fun.
A version of this article was published in The Daily Record on January 13, 2015.