The CES show floor this year was chock full of wondrous gear that will enhance your person or home. But to get a glimpse behind the curtain, you need to go off the beaten path, which usually leads me to a stop at Imagination Technologies. Though they downplay some of their A-list tech customers (like, for example, Apple), they always bring superb demonstrations of their latest core IP (like their Pure wireless speakers). Without some of that secret sauce, it is safe to say truly innovative consumer electronics is a tougher proposition. This year they did not disappoint, showing off some dazzling home-connected and wearable tech SoC prototype implementations that are surely destined to be found in much of our future gear.
Is there an app for that? If I hear those words spoken again in the next month, I might punch someone. My ire is due to the fact that it was me asking it over and over at CES this year, because, well, there is an app for everything. Literally. I mean, trees have their own apps now. Apps to keep tabs on their leaf count, and what that little pine tree down the street is doing later... I kid, but an app for a screen protector would seem frivolous certainly, but in this case, it is actually face-meltingly awesome! The apps in question are the free EyeFly3DVid and EyeFly3DImg, and they go with the Eyefly3D ($26.95) screen protector that will turn your iPhone (and soon iPad) screen into glasses-free 3D. I do not lie when I say this time that there is an... I just can't say it!
Plenty of Kickstarts here at CES, and Lunecase ($35.00) is one coming worthy of note. Not satisfied with designing merely yet another iPhone case, the Concepter team (also with a succesful LED add-on flash device called iBlazr) created the Lunecase. The circular open area around the Apple logo flashes green when you get a call, and the LED uses phone EM to power the diode—ultimate coolness! Now, you might think you do not need to be that, um, flashy, but You would be wrong, especially if you often put your phone on mute and miss calls. The Lunecase can alert you, and you therefore will not miss that call from the President (should it come.) Anyway, look for this product on Kickstarter soon (sign up for alerts at link above). Read on to see the $59 iBlazr if you been looking for an external flash.
Let's see... There is a food sensor that detects nitrates in fruit and vegetables, a radioactivity sensor to detect gamma radiation. Also coming this year, a UV sensor to protect you from too much sun. Iterium has you mostly covered from harm (at least from nitrates or radiation hazards.)
I can call this a CES mini game review, because I was able to enjoy a bit of a gaming break here at the show while at the Venetian at CES (which I desperately needed). The FlipSquare concept at first look seems way too simple and easy, but after I blasted through a few levels, it became apparent I needed to put on the old thinking cap. Starting position is key, but basically this block connection style game requires clever thinking and pattern visualization skills to master. Once you select a block direction to fill, you have to fill the entire row before going in another direction. The developers are offering the first 75 levels for free (unlock 100 with a $0.99 IAP, and 4 extra hints also cost $0.99). It looks boring, but I stayed through at least 14 levels and still wanted to keep going (later levels add new block types and conditions)... Ah, back to the show, darnnit! Grab the already popular FlipSquare at the link above.
There appears to be no end to the ways you can make music through a Bluetooth connection here at CES. The Clio ($349) is a 24W 2.1 speaker product that uses tiny actuators to conduct sound through a clear convex pane of acrylic.
Smarter security devices are the wave and rage of CES this year. The Canary ($199 pre-order) is a small, portable device that practically bristles with sensors through which you remotely monitor your home.There is a wide-angle HD camera that automatically detects motion (through an I/R sensor) and will record activity over a 130 degree area of view; a temp, humidity and air quality sensor; and much more. Read on for more information on this power-packed and iOS-integrated security gadget.
Home locks are now almost universally featuring smart features with some kind of wireless transmission capability built in. We saw at least three of the latest versions available from Goji, Kwikset, and SimpliciKey at CES this year. All three use a form of wireless capability to remotely open and close a deadbolt locking mechanism, in addition to the more traditional (and now somewhat quaint) metallic key method. All three have mobile control apps that also integrate with lock features or functions. I'll try to boil down what I could learn about each at the show...
I like things that are simple. No wires, no fussy setup and updates. Just plug it in and press play. Korus is producing speaker technology to go head to head with other boutique wireless speaker products, and doing so without annoying lag or cumbersome setup. The V600 ($449.99), and V400 ($349) speakers were both on display at the show, and we got an up-close look and listen of these attractive new speakers. The sound of course was as superb as touted (as much as listening to them on the show floor is possible), but the cool thing is that they use neither Bluetooth nor WiFi to stream, but a frequency-hopping algorithm patented by their engineering team.
The Force ($129.95) is the latest sleek wristband from Fitbit sporting an attractive OLED status screen, and on display here at CES 2014 in force (pun intended). Not only does the latest wearable activity tracker keep tabs on your health stats including sleep quality, and waking motion, but also tracks calories burned, motivates you to stay active, compete with friends, monitors incoming calls, and leverages Bluetooth 4.0 to keep everything in sync (wow, what a mouthful)!