Where the basement show halls of the Sands Expo used to be reserved for the Adult Entertainment Expo in years past, now it is filled with some of the most cutting edge technology that embraces connected devices of all sorts and types. There are smart utensils designed to help you pace your eating; smart wearables to help you maximize your workouts; smart laundry machines that will fold your clothing; smart sports trackers that will help you make you a better basketball player; and even robotic bartenders that will mix the perfect drink.
Truly we are living in the future, and Eureka Park at the International Consumer Electronics Show features more than 500 startup companies displaying many technologies we’ll be living with in the years to come. I spent my first day of CES 2016 walking through the bowels of the Venetian and the Sands checking out many of these smaller companies, as well as some larger ones, to catch trends that will drive our installs—and lives—in the months and years to come.
There were no shortage of smart locks on display in the Venetian, but the one that really caught my eye was from SecuRAM. The company’s new Genesis lock not only has really high-end build quality, but uses virtually unhackable Finger Vein ID technology. This cutting edge biometric recognition “analyzes the vascular pattern below the epidermal layer of your finger to authenticate,” making it not only highly accurate and virtually undefeatable but also very fast and impervious to things like wet or dirty fingers.
Wi-Fi is the driver of the IoT world, and there were several products designed to make surfing safer and more secure. While companies like Pakedge employ some advanced parental controls on their routers, these can often require some advanced configuration. Two products caught that my eye in this space were Luma and Cujo. Luma can replace a home’s router and uses multiple access points that mesh together to not only create a better Wi-Fi network with cleaner handoffs, it can also help you give easy access on a device level—perfect for “pausing” someone’s internet access until they finish their homework. It also helps protect against Malware and insure age-appropriate surfing.
Cujo, like the crazed St. Bernard from the Stephen King story, is built in the U.S. and takes an aggressive approach to protecting your network from hacking and phishing as well as providing advanced parental controls. Cujo also reports usage and history on a per device bases, which can be useful in tracking down any network drain issues.
Security is another big player in the IoT space, and Canary displayed a relatively simple device that puts users in control of their homes. The system requires no contracts or commitments and utilizes a 1080p HD camera that captures 147-degree field of view along with audio. When the camera senses motion, it uploads the data to the cloud where it is analyzed to determine if it is a real threat—as opposed to a cat or ceiling fan—and then the homeowner is notified. Canary also tests the rooms air quality, temperature and humidity.
CES featured a new section this year called Baby Tech. This happened to be of interest to me as my wife is pregnant and due in May with our second baby. It is incredible how far technology has advanced in this arena, with monitors of nearly every type you can imagine. There was the BabyNes from Gerber, a Keurig-type machine that makes formula in a one-cup serving, heated to the ideal temperature, and kept perfectly sterile. There was the 4moms self-installing car seat that auto leveled, auto tensioned, and continuously monitored itself for properly installation and operations, notifying you immediately via app if there are any issues. There were wearables to measure and track the mother’s pregnancy, charting the baby’s development in the womb.
Onelink Wifi Envirocam
But perhaps the coolest baby tech that I saw was the Onelink Wi-Fi Envirocam. This high-def pan, tilt, zoom cam not only monitors baby during any lighting condition, it also features a two-way mic for audio communication, allows establishing digital boundaries that can alert if there are any intruders or if the baby gets up and starts to wander. Additionally, it monitors the air quality, temperature, and humidity in the baby’s room, alerting you when any parameter falls outside an established limit, and it measures and monitors the baby’s respiration, immediately alerting you if the baby is having trouble breathing. Devices like this use the power of tech to help take a lot of worry out of being a new parent.
At the end of a hard day on the show floor, nothing sounds better than a well-made cocktail, and the Somabar totally has you covered. Fill up the six pods—plus the seventh “reserved for bitters”—with your favorite liquors, mixers, or juices and then the Somabar app will suggest one of 300 different cocktails and then mix you a drink. You can even upload your favorite recipes so you can mix that perfect Vesper the next time Bond swings by. Of course, no robotic bartender would be worth its silicone if it didn’t automatically clean up after itself.
Somabar robot bartender
Simplicity was the rule of the day with new remote control ideas. French company, sevenhugs, showed their take on a connected remote with a model that “learns” the location of items in your room and pointing the remote at those items automatically changes and reconfigures the remote to control those devices when you point at them.
Sevenhugs smart remote
Senic, a German company, demonstrated its Nuimo, a basic disc-styled universal control with an OLED screen that was used to control audio (via Sonos), thermostat, lighting and more. Operation was simplicity itself; by tapping the center of the disc started music playing from all Sonos players and then then turning the outer ring adjusted the volume. One of the things that most impressed me was the fit-and-finish of the device as it had the wonderful knob-feel reminiscent of a high-end pre-amp. Nuimo is also BLE enabled with an average battery life of four months.
Nuimo smart remote
Bang & Olufsen (B&O) has always been about using technology to enhance lifestyle and to solve “pain points” in customer’s lives. The company’s design philosophy is that technology should not overpower or dictate the design of the home but rather enhance and improve the living experience. The company demonstrated two new speaker systems at a press event that cover both extremes of the company’s B&O portfolio. At the entry level is the new BeoSound 35.
This is designed to install in a variety of ways, whether on a wall, above a door, or on a tabletop, and to always fill the room with 180-degrees of sound and present the OLED information screen to the user. The system strives for ultimate simplicity in operation, with just a single touch starting music in a room. The system also integrates as part of a full housewide audio system. While it may look like a soundbar to your untrained eyes, the speaker is not really meant to operate in that manner. However I did confirm that it does feature both an analog and optical audio input so it could.
To celebrate the company’s 90th year in business, they went for a new flagship speaker design and the result is the $77,900/pair BeoLab 90. The speaker features 7 tweeters, 7 mid drivers, and 4 woofers, each individually amped and DSP controlled to deliver every note of music. The speaker has an unusual cubist design that reminded me of a honeycomb. We were able to listen to the speaker briefly, and it delivered huge bass notes while still maintaining fine detail and quick, accurate response.
While not part of the connected life, 3D printers are a huge part of the show. And what could possibly be cooler than a life-sized 3D printed Stormtrooper? Nothing! (OK, maybe a 3D printed Boba Fett…)