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Monday, January 07, 2013


Press Unveiled, CES 2013 Highlights

I had the honor of being a judge for 3 categories of products for the 2013 CES Innovation awards. Some of the products I reviewed are below. I will see others during a private showing of the Innovation booths on Monday.

Vuzix, Bluetooth earphone microphone and mini screen with front facing camera. It has its own apps built in as well as having a GPS chip. It can interface with your mobile device or run some apps on its own. Slated to come out in summer 2013 for around $500.

Dacor Android oven interface: This Company makes kitchen appliances and claims to be the first with an Android interface. It will work on their Discovery series of ovens, slated to be out summer 2013. The RNIB has a recent list of accessible appliances including some high end versions with electronic interface so not sure about this claim. Mike's MP3 for the Dacor Android Oven.

Wilson Electronics: Long-time maker of antennas has a new line of cell phone boosters. The single user sleek version has you putting your phone in a cradle which amplifies the signals up to 20 DB. A multi-user 40DB version can be used in a car and even more powerful 70DB version can be used to cover a whole house or office complex. I have used various cell phone boosters and currently have one that works within 20 feet or so of the booster. One difficulty is getting a booster that matches the phone carrier you use. Currently, you can get Wilson boosters specific for AT&T or Verizon. The new 4G line of Wilson boosters should help address that issue. $199 for the new Sleek 4G when it comes out this summer.   

Netamo Weather Station: There is an 8 inch metal cylinder for indoors and a 4 inch one for outdoors. Indoors pick up CO2 levels and temperature. The outdoor model gives temperature, humidity and barometric pressure. I tried it on the spot with their iPhone app and VoiceOver and it worked beautifully. $179, available soon.

Mike with the ION Audio 50 watt speaker with the multi-colored lights
ION Audio has a 50 watt speaker with a sphere on top that emits very bright multi-colored lights, enough to fill a living room as though it was a night club. Hard to tell the sound quality in a noisy exhibit hall. $149 each.

Dexim has two interesting products. An iPhone case with battery back-up for $6 which is quite thin. They also had a stylus with microphone and Bluetooth earpiece. This is another way of having a discrete device for accessing your mobile device, a pen in the pocket approach. $79.

Urban Hello's wireless speaker phone is an interesting shape. It is curved but sort of like a tall glass with buttons on one end and 360 degree speakers.

Kubx Lab iPhone jacket amplifier. $34.95. This uses mechanical amplification not electronic. It is simply a unique shaped plastic iPhone case that magnifies the sound. It was quite impressive, at least doubling the sound level. It could be great as a speaker phone but not really for music as the sound will still be monaural.

Felt Audio mini Bluetooth speaker. This can easily fit in a shirt pocket and act as a speaker phone or even an amplified speaker for a PDA. $99.

Canopy with Sensus capacitive phone case. This is meant for gaming with touch points and vibration coming from the case. They have programmed 6 points that one can touch to create letters based on Braille dots. This is still a prototype.

Parrot has a new version of their helicopter that you control with your mobile phone up to Wi-Fi range. They also have something called Flower Power where various sensors are put in your plants and the data sent to your phone like soil moisture and fertilizer levels.

Belkin WeMo is a WiFi linked sensor or switch for controlling devices in your home via your phone. I have one of these and it works great other than one button on the app. They told me they know about this flaw and are working on it. New sensors are coming out. Sold by major retailers already.

Cord Cruncher is another of the products I evaluated as a CES Innovation judge. We all hate ear buds because they get tangled easily. This is a clever system that keeps this from happening. You have to feel it to understand how but if you like ear buds, try this out. $24.99 in various colors. 

XPAL Power has their new SpareOne emergency cell phone. It has big distinct buttons and is meant to be used only in case of emergency. You can put a Sim card in it but you would typically leave it in your glove box or bag and just use with 911. It gives you some 30 hours of use on one double A battery, activated when you pull the tab. $49.

MyUNU is yet another phone battery back-up unit. They have one for the iPhone 4S and a new one coming out for the 5 called the DX with 2300MA. It also is a protective case and goes for $80.

Nuvo music system: This is one of many products like this. The WiFi gateway is $199 and then you have Wi-Fi connected amplifiers with speaker connectors for $479 and up, a lot to pay to avoid the traditional stereo receiver. Trakdot luggage locater.  This is a GSM device that you put inside your luggage or important package. You can track it via a web site. It also has Bluetooth so if you are waiting for it at a luggage carousel, it will alert you when it is nearby. $49 for the device, a onetime activation fee of $8.99 and $12.99 per year subscription.

Wahoo Kickr power-trainer with iPhone interfaces.

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