CES 2013 Wrap up:
I was at the Consumer Electronics Show
in Las Vegas for six
days this year. I had the honor of being an Innovations judge
for 90 products so
I had fun checking out some of the winners I had voted on. I have put ** in
front of the products I will consider purchasing when they come out.
We have posted recorded audio clips, written brief text
descriptions and taken images of products, which are posted below in Blog
entries from January 6 through 11. You will also here from Bob Sweetman. He and
Sue were with us for much of the show. My son Carson took photos along with my
A couple general themes jumped out at me in 2013. Sure
seemed to be more blind folks at the show. I personally met at least 7. Nothing
like having a full time sighted guide/reader at no charge.
It was fun to find accessibility in surprising places, like
the apps the manufacturers had no idea would work with VoiceOver with their
products. That said, I’d have to say that my most exciting accessibility find
in January was not at CES, it was at my home with Comcast cable, my Tivo
recorder and the companion iPhone app. Accessing TV content and menus has been
for years something I have had to depend upon my kids for and they weren’t
always thrilled to help me out. Now I feel like a kid in a candy store with 99%
accessibility using the iPhone Tivo app
. I tried to visit them at CES to see if
they know what they have but Tivo didn’t have an exhibit.
Like always, there were scores of companies showing cell
phone cases, so many, that I mostly didn’t bother stopping at their booths even
though I am in the market for an iPhone 5 case
. Some are about functionality
but most are about style and design. I did spend time at the Ozaki
booth and liked
their offerings. There are so many companies having to do with collecting and
storing energy. Solarmer Energy
was showing a thin flexible solar material.
Think of back-packs and other curved surfaces that could benefit from thin flexible
solar sheets. Perpetua
collects body heat. Think geothermal energy. They had it built
into a couple watches, completely powered through the heat contact with your
arm. Horizon Fuel Technology
has been at CES for several years but they finally
have a shipping product. Six inch cylinders about the size of a popsicle hold
water. When charged in the fuel generator, they can be plugged into a USB pack
that charges your mobile device. The whole rig is about $500 and $12 per fuel
was present with their collection of crank radios.
Many companies were making portable battery back-up units,
either built-in to phone cases or the size of a pack of cards with power jacks.
** I am a fan of MyCharge
because they include the two common cables built-into
the units. Their iPhone 4S model called the Summit 3000 has speech announcements
of battery level. Mophie has the famous Juice Pack and
other nice units. Dexim has a very thin 2000MA iPhone 5 case battery coming
excited about the Dacor Android oven control. I heard that LG had something as
well. There were certainly many companies advertising home appliance control.
Not sure if any are really shipping. I know from many years at CES that half
the emerging technologies I have seen at the show never see the light of day.
companies have cell phone signal boosters and I have tried 3 models, one with
moderate success. ** I will be trying the Wilson 40DB booster when it is
released for use when in a car.
it when companies have a clever idea, whether or not I will use their product.
The Kubx phone case speaker mechanical sound booster is like that. There were
at least two other companies doing something similar, one for an iPad. RCA’s Sound Stream was definitely unique with its means of amplifying the iPhone
speaker combined with a range of home electronics.
I am an
active user of rubber bands for keeping cords coiled. I hope the Cord Cruncher
way of sucking earbud cords together will find its way into other cord products.
It is kind of expensive but the Globatrac luggage tracking device is intriguing.
I’m Here is a very small GPS box that is
also meant for being tracked, either at a programmed rate, like once an hour or
it can be remotely woken up from your personal tracking web page. They were
talking $169 per unit, which is a lot for something that has $5 worth of parts
disappointed in what I saw of the Panasonic Viera talking TV but two other
blind folks at the show reported that it was a good step in the right
I am in
the market for a Windows 8 tablet with keyboard. Toshiba had one with a
keyboard and with GPS on board. Several manufacturers had different approaches
to how the screen would flip over, under or around. None seemed to have GPS
other than possibly the Lenovo Helix. Its screen separated from the keyboard to
become a standalone tablet. It has some sort of positioning as well as NFC. Microsoft
was not at CES so no chance to see the Surface, which sounds to be similar to the
were a plethora of headphones. I skipped over most of them unless they were
high end. Sennheiser had some of the best, even $1,000 earbuds. The Destiny TTR
is $300 from House of Marley and sounds really nice. The Monster Inspiration sounds
beautiful. Their DNA series and others have a jack on either ear so you can
chain multiple headsets together. Carson’s Grado SR80 headphones may be the
best value at $80 for excellent sound.
will get the Gatekeeper Bluetooth garage door opener from Cobra when it comes
out. Not really something necessary but quite clever and innovative.
Apigy Lockitron is a Bluetooth add-on to your door’s dead bolt lock. When
linked with your mobile device, you can control it remotely or it will unlock
and lock based on your proximity to it.
AfterShokz bone conduction Bluetooth earphones are a must purchase for anyone
using a GPS or mobile device where you need to hear your environment.
than my iPhone, the product that gets the most daily use is my Bluetooth
earpiece. If I were to buy a new unit today, I’d get the Plantronics Voyager Legend. It is not the smallest unit, which might be the Plantronics Mark 2. The
Legend has 3 microphones for maximum noise canceling, a longer mic to get close
to your mouth and a sleek carrying case that doubles as a battery charging
pack. Plantronics had something like this in their Discovery series. As far as
I know, only the Blueant and this new Legend have the ability to answer or
ignore a call with your voice. This is essential when your hands are tied up
with a cane or dog.
ClearSounds makes a combination land line-cell phone unit. It has one connection
for a standard single line cordless phone and another for an iPhone. You can
then use the cordless phone to answer an incoming call on either your land-line
or mobile phone. The I700 has nice tactile buttons on the cordless. The I800
has the addition of built-in speakers but the cordless handset is completely
flat with touch buttons.
Blue Mikey is a module that plugs on the bottom of your iPhone to provide high
quality stereo recording.
the mini projectors, of which there are now many. There are versions not much
bigger than your mobile phone.
picked up a high tech baby monitor as a gift from NetVue, which could be used
for monitoring pets or anything else in your home via Wi-fi and your mobile
Fuse Chicken, I love the name, has a goose-neck style USB cable for your iPhone.
Sensory Acumen scent generator has a cartridge with 6 scents. It is currently
being used in the psychological treatment of vets but the idea has much broader
applications. Think of it like a printer hooked up to everyone’s computer. When
you shop online and are looking up coffee beans, that smell could be triggered
on your scent generator. There is no reason scent cannot be added to the
multimedia experience. Makes me think of the pine forests in the Disney Soaring
over California ride.
Consumer Electronics Show would not be complete without the Monster concert.
This year was Alicia Keys. The Paris Ballroom was filled to capacity with 5,000
people. We had a center table 40 feet from the stage. Awesome music; a
wonderful break from the endless electronics and nearly 200,000 people.
Mike May’s audio summaries of past shows, go to the Sendero Podcast link.
Sendero does not sell any of the products mentioned here. Many will not be out
for several months. Contact the manufacturers for more information. Contact
Sendero for information about BrailleNote, Braille Sense and GPS products.