If there’s one constant thread underpinning almost everything at CES, it’s the question of being connected. Not in a 1940s Vegas Mob sense, you understand, but in the sense of any new device not being enough of a draw on its own if it can’t also chit-chat with other devices and thus offer additional, enriching functionality.
Sometimes this additional functionality can seem somewhat arbitrary – such as the Wilson X Connected Football, which is a regular American Football equipped with a built-in smart sensor to measure distance, speed, spiral efficiency and catch/drop ratio – but there is a clear convergence (that other C word) of connected technology with the analogue human world, as seen on display in the sprawling halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Healthcare, body awareness, medication and self-improvement can all be connected, starting with whatever you wish to put in to the temple that is your body. The Perfect Company has come up with the Perfect Blend, a juicer and smoothie-maker (so far, so analogue) that has smart scales and an interactive receipe app (naturally), which connects with your smartphone or tablet and tells you exactly how much of each ingredient to use, as well as how best to blend said ingredients for best results. The app will also track the nutrional content for all your Perfectly Blend-ed meals, so you’ll never have too much or too little of anything ever again.
Constantly monitoring the condition of your body is another connected possibility now, with products such as Hexoskin, a wearable body suit that measures your heart rate, your breathing efficiency, and even monitors the quality of your sleep at night, if you choose to wear your Hexoskin in bed.
Wearable body metrics – be it whole body, a la Hexoskin, or specific aspects of your body’s performance – is a burgeoning area for connected devices. Skulpt’s Chisel, for example, measures body fat percentage from three muscles (triceps, abs and quads) to track your fitness progress in the app, as well as offering tailored fitness advice based on the data collected. Gymwatch offered a similar “ultimate fitness exercise tracker”.
For more serious medical analysis, Omron’s wrist and upper arm blood pressure monitors record and track the necessary, while Veta showed a connected smart case and complementary app for epipen users, making the lives of diabetics and allergy sufferers easier.
The connected world extends to hearing aids as well, with ReSound’s LiNX2 billed as “the world’s smartest hearing aid, and control it straight from your wrist – anytime anywhere”. By wrist, they mean Apple Watch, ReSound products being the first full family of Made for iPhone hearing aids. Wearers can stream music, phone calls and other sounds directly to their hearing aids, effectively turning the aid into wireless stereo headphones. On-the-go tweaks can be made via the iPhone app, responding to environmental conditions, such as wind or ambient noise.
On the subject of headphones – given that there are dozens of new headphones announced at CES every year – Caseco’s latest Blu-Toque range of weatherproof Bluetooth Beanies turned – and possibly warmed – some heads. Essentially a woolly bobble hat with built-in Bluetooth headphones, the Blu-Toque nonetheless addresses those key winter issues with stylish simplicity: wireless music connected to your smartphone, cold ears and the need to wear a hat. Available in a wide range of styles and colours, the only thing to remember is to remove the Bluetooth module before throwing the hat in the wash.
A weatherproof Bluetooth headphone-equipped beanie might be ideal headgear for the committed winter cyclist, out perfecting their road times. Said cyclist might also benefit from Baron Biosystem’s Xert Mobile fitness and performance monitoring mobile app and patent-pending Bio Shift wireless gear-changing system, currently at the prototype and pre-production stage. This app analyses the data coming from the bike frame to which the system has been fitted and automatically changes gears for the cyclist for the optimal performance. The results are all tracked in the connected app, so the cyclist can later review the gear change choices made for them and come to understand their impact and efficiency on the rider’s performance.
While other major players in the bike world are also working on similar concepts – Shimano is certainy active in this area – Xert’s spokesman was politely confident in the supremacy of their product, likening the commercial challenge to a David versus Goliath situation. In a connected world, anything is possible.