In its nearly 50 years of existence, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has debuted dozens of electronics products now ubiquitous in American homes, including HDTV, the Xbox and Blu-ray. The VCR was introduced to the world here in 1970, followed by the camcorder and CD player in 1981. Held in Las Vegas every January, the enormous trade show draws eyes from across the world. Which of the thousands of products and gadgets exhibited today will be in millions of homes by next year?
This year, the show’s key word seems to be “smart.” Some of the coolest products on display are items that track, respond and react to various inputs.
In line with recent trends for wearable health-monitoring systems, TempTraq, from Ohio-based Blue Spark Technologies, is a thermometer parents can use to track their children’s temperatures without waking them up. The soft, flexible patch “continuously senses, records, and sends alerts of a child’s temperature to your mobile device.” Powered by Blue Spark’s flexible battery technology, the Bluetooth thermometer will alert caregivers when a temperature spikes. TempTraq is already available online, with a suggested price of $19.99. Not having to rouse a sick, tired child to pop a thermometer in his or her mouth or armpit will certainly be a boon to parents everywhere.
In the United States, 3,300 people are killed and another 400,000 are injured in car accidents caused by distracted driving each year. That’s the problem SMARTwheel hopes to solve. The smart steering wheel cover alerts drivers with lights and sounds when they’re showing distracted behaviors, including taking their hands off the wheel. Data is transmitted to an app, which grades how well the driver did at driving without distraction. It’s aimed at teenagers—and it was also invented by one. CEO TJ Evarts is 19, and started working on the product six years ago.
Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator
You’ll never run out of milk again with Samsung’s new Family Hub refrigerator. This $5,000 appliance is stuffed full of sensors, cameras and screens, monitoring your family’s food supply and intake with the attention of a butler. The fridge’s interior camera snaps a photo of what’s inside every time you close the door, giving you a constantly updated picture of what you’ve got and what you don’t. It works with the brand new Groceries by MasterCard smart fridge app to order food instantly. Use the giant exterior touchscreen to read recipes, update the family calendar, watch TV or play music while you cook. According to reports, Samsung hopes to work with Amazon’s Alexa AI assistant to make the fridge voice-activated in the near future.
In the sustainability department, the Hydrao is a smart showerhead that keeps track of your water usage with LED lights. The lights change color the more water you use, allowing you to get familiar with your water usage (when the lights first change, you better get shampooing). An associated app lets you track your water use over time on your mobile device. The showerhead’s water pressure powers the device, so it doesn’t even need a battery.
Of particular interest to writers (including this one) is the DigiPen by German pen maker Stabilo. The utensil converts handwriting into electronic text. Unlike other similar devices, DigiPen doesn’t need a special surface. You just write directly on paper, and the pen wirelessly transmits the data to your device.
If the iLi wearable translator, from Japanese company Logbar, works as promised, the language barrier will soon go the way of the Berlin Wall. Speak into the iPod-sized iLi and the device will translate and speak the translation out loud. At this point, it can translate between English, Chinese and Japanese.