The annual Consumer Electronics Show is a great place to put your finger on the pulse of technology. The show often sets the stage for what kind of tech will dominate headlines (and stores) through the year. Some years, CES bubbled over with HDTVs; other years it signaled the rise of smartphones, tablets, or 3D printers. This year was fascinating because many different technologies were on fire: personal fitness, home automation, 3D printing, drones, and bleeding edge entertainment were just some of the areas that had expansive pavilions and many companies vying for attention. There simply was no one (or even two) things you could say “this is what CES was about this year.”
To demonstrate that, I’ve rounded up 8 of the most interesting gadgets I encountered at CES this year.
1. 360-Degree Camera. Home automation and security was one of the hot topics at CES, and Allie (pronounced “all-ie,” like “self-ie”) has your back. It’s a camera that shoots 360 degree wrap-around video that captures everything around it – in all directions including above and below. What’s really happening is that Allie has two cameras and the video is stitched together in the camera in real time, but that’s almost beside the point because you can’t see the seams. You can pan around and zoom into the video – both live video streamed over the Internet and recorded video as well.
2. Connected Toothbrush. Is your toothbrush not connected enough? Unlike some genuinely silly Bluetooth products I’ve seen in past CES years (like the Bluetooth fork that vibrated when you ate too quickly), Kolibree’s electric toothbrush has sophisticated sensors to make sure you spend enough time brushing each part of your mouth (yes, it knows where you are brushing). There’s even a companion smartphone app and game for grownups and kids to brush better. This isn’t the only connected toothbrush at CES, either; Oral-B had its own, but its wasn’t as impressive – it can’t track which parts of your mouth you are brushing, for example.
3. Fitness Band for the Gym. Personal fitness was everywhere at CES, but what I liked about GymWatch was that it wasn’t yet another fitness wristband (of which there were seemingly dozens). GymWatch is a sensor that precisely measures your motion and works with an app to lead you through a complete exercise regimen (there are over 900 exercises in the program). You get real-time feedback to keep you on track throughout your workout.
4. Pet Tracking Collar. Fitness bands aren’t just for people. Last year we saw “doggie Fitbits” like the Whistle, and this year pet collars are doing even more – like helping you track down your lost pet. The Motorola Scout 5000 is a connected pet collar GPS (so you know where your pet is at all times), a wide angle camera (so you can see what Rover sees), and a speaker you can use to talk to your dog via an app on your phone. Packed with a slew of features, the Scout 5000 is one of the most impressive dog collars I’ve ever seen.
5. Smart Yoga Mat. Since we’re throwing Bluetooth and Wi-Fi into stuff, how about your yoga mat? The SmartMat is a sensor-laden mat that helps you realize your yoga potential. It tracks, stores, and monitors your progress with the help of a mobile app, and serves as a sort of yoga instructor, helping you with your form as you perform your exercises.
6. Compact 3D Printer. Let’s be clear: There were a lot of 3D printers at CES. So many you could have spent an entire day just exploring 3D printers, and there wasn’t a lot to differentiate many of the models I saw there. The Micro, though, was a little different – it was incredibly small, meaning that you could bring this printer into your home and not have to dedicate an entire table or desk to supporting it. Indeed, this might be the most compact 3D printer ever. It also has a light, attractive design, and – if the designers are to be believed – a simple, effortless, consumer-friendly printing experience. This might be the 3D printer that makes it into my home office.
7. Futuristic Wheeled Vehicle. Last year, I was wowed and amazed by a demo of the OneWheel, a gyro-stabilized, one-wheeled electric skateboard. It wasn’t yet in production, but the company returned to CES this year with the final product in production – and riding it is like a cross between snowboarding and floating on a hoverboard. It remains my favorite, but there were other funky devices at the show this year, like IO Hawk – which is what you’d get if you stood on the wheels of a Segway but threw away everything else.
8. Virtual Reality Headset. If you are a gamer, you probably know about Oculus Rift, a former Kickstarter project that was bought by Facebook for $2B (yes, that’s a “billion”). The latest version of the headset was being demo’d at the show, and this head-tracking, 3D sound, high resolution display gadget adds up to the most fundamentally brain sizzlingly unbelievable entertainment experience of my life. The hyper-realistic demos were indescribably good – you have to wear a headset and see for yourself. Here’s to hoping a consumer version finally ships in 2015, because it is the future, here, now.
Photo credits: All photos courtesy of their respective product manufacturers