The convergence of devices and technologies to produce connected solutions for people of all ages, from preschool children to the elderly, was on display at CES Unveiled 2016, the pre-show exhibition of new products and innovations at the consumer electronics show in Las Vegas.
Wearable technology, fitness trackers, wireless audio solutions, drones, kitchen sensors, smart children’s toys, object trackers and sleep monitors were some of the major trends presented by over 150 companies, ranging from well-established companies to young start-ups with products on display, to companies still crowdfunding the finance for their idea – via such sites as Kickstarter and Indie-Go-Go – with a view to launching their products later in 2016.
French start-up Oliba was one such company, who displayed Oliba, “the smart buddy of children and cuddly toys”. This technological owl-styled device attaches to any child’s favourite cuddly toy and connects via Bluetooth to a parent’s smartphone. Oliba then acts as a toy tracker, so the toy never gets lost or left behind. It can also be used as an audio storyteller, a musical nightlight and can record a parent’s voice, so a young child can be soothed in their parent’s absence.
The burgeoning interplay between home objects and smartphones was also on display from Smarter, which demonstrated its range of smart kitchen mats and fridge cams. These connect to your smartphone, offering an up-to-date state of your pantry’s comestibles, in the case of the Mats, or a snapshot of the state of your fridge contents, via one or more Fridge Cams strategically placed to record the shelves of your fridge. The user can then call up this visual data on their smartphone when next at a supermarket and restock according to the precise needs of the moment. Ketchup running low? Mats will tell you. No milk or yoghurt? Fridge Cam will show you that information. While you’re in the kitchen, you could also check in with Trilby’s magnetic connected speaker, which sticks to the front of your fridge and records and displays reminders that you’ve sent via your smartphone.
If you’re after something stronger than ketchup and yoghurt, Somabar’s Robotic Bartender could be the solution you’re looking for. With six tanks for various spirits and a separate dispenser for bitters, the Somabar is pre-programmed with 300 cocktails that will be automatically mixed for you when requested from your smartphone. The machine also has onboard sensors, electronic ingredient tagging and automated cleaning. Users can also share bespoke cocktail creations over the internet via Wi-Fi with fellow Bartender owners. Somabar expects to launch the Robotic Bartender in Q1 of 2016, after a successful Kickstarter compaign that exceeded their goal.
Healthcare technologies were also much in evidence at CES Unveiled, such as wearable fitness technology from the likes of Misfit and the life-control band from Nex Band. Mother also unveiled the latest version of its monitoring device for elderly people – called the Silver Mother – which enables a relative or carer to remotely track and log the behaviour of an individual. This is done via a smartphone and the placement of small tracking tags on such objects as walking sticks and pill boxes. Silver Mother is sophisticated enough to determine whether a person simply moved a pill box or actually lifted the box and opened the lids to take their medication.
Consumer audio products were strongly represented from a range of companies, with Bluetooth speakers and headphones inevitably to the fore. Sweden’s Zounds unveiled a range of new headphone products under its Urbanears brand, designed specifically for sportspeople. The Active collection has such features as reflective material used in the headbands, mesh fabric earpieces to allow the skin to breathe when exercising and tangle-free Kevlar cables. Both over-the-head and earpiece products form the Active collection.
Zounds was also exhibiting the results of its collaboration with Marshall Amplification, including a new set of wireless headphones, set for release later this year, along with the latest additions to its range of iconic Marshall amp-styled Bluetooth speakers.
Also on display in the centre of the conference hall were some of the highlights from the CES 2016 Innovation Awards, under the banner “This Is Genius”. These products have been declared the winning products in such categories as Unmanned Systems and Accessories (winner: the Lily Camera, a “throw and shoot” airborne camera with GPS); Home Appliances (winner: the Somabar Robotic Bartender); Gaming and Virtual Reality (winner: Logitech’s G920 Driving Force force-feedback racing wheel and pedal set for Xbox One and PC); Headphones (winner: HiFiMan’s HE100 Reference headphones, full-size planar magnetic studio-reference headphones); Computer Hardware and Components (winner: HP’s Envy Curved All-In-One monitor, featuring stereo Bang & Olufsen speakers) and Eco-Design and Sustainable Technologies (winner: Pilot’s ECO USBCell, a lithium polymer battery rechargeable via any USB port).