OK, kids, strap in for this post - we’re going to move quickly here. Start off by watching the video above to see a bunch of new gadgets that we saw this week at the CE Week New York event (in New York City, natch).
There was pretty much something for everyone - new health and fitness gadgets, toys and robots for the kids, audio gear, new 4K TVs, and a bunch of stuff for your smartphone or tablet or computer.
Ready, set go!
Elektrokidz: From WowWee Robotics comes these cute creatures - don’t call them Trolls (the Trolls people might get irked) - but rather these toys react to the beat of music in fun ways. WowWee was showing these at the show alongside their new MiP robots (we saw them at CES), which explore, dance, play games and do other activities by balancing on their two wheels.
VOYCE health-tracking dog collar: At first glance I thought this was another pet-tracking system that included GPS so you could find your dog if he or she wandered away during a stroll (or if they started chasing a squirrel). But no, this falls in line with other health-tracking systems like the FitBit - the VOYCE collar can track your dog’s activity, heart rate, even sleep patterns to monitor how they’re doing. Even cooler is what they do with the data - like other systems, VOYCE includes a cloud-based offering and app that lets you track data to provide for the dog’s vet - so you can always have information on when their latest shots were, or show the patterns to the vet during their yearly visit. For new pet owners looking to extend the life of their dogs, this advancement looks very cool.
Spin Master’s Chatsters: It’s good to see tech and toys aimed at girls at shows like these. Canadian company Spin Master was giving demonstrations of its Chatsters doll (Gabby), a talking, dancing, “thinking” animated toy. Touch sensors around the doll’s glasses and other accessories trigger actions like blinking or lighting up different areas, and the system comes with speakers and an app that lets you communicate with Gabby via a phone or tablet (if you call or text Gabby, the robot will text you back). Coming this fall for about $80.
Real FX Racing: Another update on the old slot-car racing toy (remember those?), Real FX Racing is currently in a Kickstarter fundraising campaign for its offering. These radio-controlled cars include sensors and artificial intelligence to re-create the slot-racing experience, but without needing the actual slots. You can also create your own tracks (with the help of “1-Sec-Connect” track pieces), and race up to three other humans or against an automated pace car). The Kickstarter deadline is July 12, 2014, and is expected to cost about $255 when completed.
Skulpt muscle fitness tracker: A lot of health/fitness devices have been aimed at broad audiences, tracking things like number of steps taken or other simple measurements. The Skulpt device aims to take that a step further, by measuring things like muscle fitness. The device includes sensors on the back that measures fat percentage and muscle quality (MQ) for individual muscle groups, as well as your entire body. For athletes looking to create the perfect bicep or pec (or to check on how awesome your six-pack abs are progressing), this device could be right up your alley.
Foreo ISSA toothbrush: Toothbrushes don’t go through a lot of technical innovations (although the move from manual to spinning brush certainly was cool), but this one is very interesting. The ISSA toothbrushes use silicone bristles instead of nylon to create stronger friction to get rid of the bad stuff in your mouth, and they seem to be easier to clean and sterilize than their older nylon cousins. The brush also has an 8-speed interface that lets you customize the amount of pulsations the brush makes. For the kids, there’s a timer to keep them brushing longer, and a smiley face / frowny face indicator that lets parents know how long it’s been between brushes (if it’s more than 12 hours between uses, you get a frowny face).
MTX Audio Margaritaville headphones: Hey Parrotheads! Now you can jam out to your favorite Jimmy Buffet tunes on these multi-colored (or specific-colored) headphones from MTX Audio. The headphones are flexible, compact and include an additional headphone jack so you can listen to “Cheeseburger in Paradise” with your favorite beach buddy.
MimoPowerBot (Mimoco): Mimoco is one of my favorite companies - the small storage company has a great way of getting cool popular licenses to create Star Wars-branded USB drives or other memory gear. At this show, they were showing their new MimoPowerBots, extra battery power for your smartphone or tablet (up to three charges before recharge needed, 5200 mAh, 2.1 amps). They were showing pre-orders for the Finn and BMO units (from the Cartoon Network series “Adventure Time”), as well as two Star Wars units (R2-D2 and Darth Vader). The company also has a series of PowerTube units, a rechargeable backup battery for your smartphone and cute designs on the outside (my favorite - the PowerUp 8-bit video game design).
Happy Plugs: Sometimes packaging is all you need. In the case of Stockholm-based Happy Plugs, it was this wall display (again, see the video) that grabbed my attention. The in-ear-style and earbud versions are shaped like a musical note quite cleverly, and with a variety of color options, it screamed “Hey Keith, film me!” The accessory company also offers colorful iPhone cases and heart-shaped smartphone charging cables (at least with the packaging).
BattroBorg Warrior Battle Arena Set: This toy updates the old “Rock-Em, Sock-Em Robots” toy that I grew up with and adds physical controllers (think Wii Remotes) that players use to control the robots in the battle arena. This gives kids more of a workout when they’re battling against another player, but the idea is still the same - knock out your opponent’s robot before they do it to you.
Henge Docks vertical (and horizontal) MacBook docking stations: These very cool docking stations provide a vertical option for your MacBook Pro (the newer ones are aimed at the ones with the Retina screen) - all of the ports you need to connect with are inside the docking station, making this a cool option for saving some space on your office (or home) desktop. Coming in the fall - a horizontal docking station that looks as equally awesome. Also - check out the company’s iPhone docking station, which is heavy enough to let you type or interact with the phone while it’s re-charging on your desktop.
Ozobots: I saw a bunch of these displayed at this year’s CES event in January - again, great video - but here’s the scoop on them. The Ozobot is an intelligent robot that can “recognize over 1,000 different instructions on digital touch screens, paper or on game boards.” The bot can follow a pre-determined path or something that you draw on paper - it’s very cool to watch and could get more kids involved in both robotics as well as programming. Plus they’re so cute to watch.
Loksak waterproof bags (and ShieldSak blockers): I’ve seen dozens of waterproof phone cases and other such products that aim to protect them in water, but this may be the simplest (and possibly the best) method. The LokSak bags are more than just a Ziploc-style baggie for your stuff - it’s made out of very tough, hard-to-break material with a hermetic seal. They were demonstrating this by dunking the bags with phones and tablets inside them into a fish aquarium. If you do lots of things near water (especially if you’re heading to the beach this summer), throw your stuff into one of these bags to be safer. The company also showed off its ShieldSak bags, which are made of materials that can block out RFID and other wireless signals from outside forces, protecting travelers who might find themselves the victims of random wireless-based hacking attempts. The guy at the table was telling me that that law enforcement uses these bags to seal up phones from arrested suspects (such as drug dealers) that prevent others from remotely wiping the phones, thereby saving evidence. Of course, that also means that people that attempt to steal smartphones can use these to preserve the phones they steal preventing the kill switch from activating, although I’ll still put my money on law enforcement.
Gunnar gaming eyewear: I tried some earlier versions of these gaming-related eyewear that aim to help reduce eyestrain for gamers watching their screens for long periods of time. But these glasses can also be used for workers who stare at spreadsheets all day long, or ones that have to write long consumer-related technology blog posts. The glasses (which also come with prescription lenses) help “alleviate all common causes of digital eye strain and visual fatigue,” resulting in “improved clarity, focus and performance.” If you’re facing these symptoms from long bouts in front of your digital display or gaming system, perhaps it’s time to look into a pair of these (the company has a free two-week trial period to take advantage of).
Polaroid Cube HD Action Video Camera: There’s been a bunch of action cameras since the GoPro launched onto the scene several years ago, but I was impressed by the small size of the Polaroid Cube. The water-resistant, shockproof and mountable camera (it has a magnet on it that you can place on a metal helmet or bike handlebars) sports a 3-megapixel CMOS sensor, can record 1080p video and has a 90-minute recording battery (videos are stored on an eternal microSD memory card). For non-metal surfaces, the Cube offers a variety of different mounts, including helmets, bikes, tripods, straps and a suction-cup version).
The Elio (Elio Motors): It was interesting seeing this vehicle at the show - the three-wheeled Elio technically qualifies as a motorcycle, but it looks and feels more like a car in that it has a steering wheel, windows and a roof. The vehicle boasts 84 miles-per-gallon and has a new-age look-and-feel to it. The prototype car was on display so it might not be street-legal until next year, but I could certainly see me using this for my daily commute to save a ton on gas money (taking on passengers is a bit more tricky though).
Olloclip Macro and iPad clip-on lenses: If you take any amount of photos or videos with your iPhone, an Olloclip is a must-have accessory, which provides macro, wide-angle and fisheye lenses for your smartphone. The newest lenses from Olloclip are even more impressive - the Macro 3-in-1 lens provides super-close-up shots that really capture details of objects like never before, and the iPad lenses can attach to those tablets (it also works with the iPad mini) for the same kind of lens flexibility as the iPhone versions. As we continue to see photography and videography move to the smartphones of the world, the Olloclip is just as important for your phone as your protective case and earbuds.
Don’t forget to check out the information on the NETGEAR Nighthawk X6 wireless router, which I wrote about yesterday. Stay tuned for a few more items from the show.