I’d like to highlight some of the startups I saw at CES 2016 and the products they had on display. As there were hundreds of startup gadgets present, the items I chose were the most interesting to me.
These products stretched the concept of the Internet of Things. It made me wonder as to whether these gadgets were the proverbial hammer without any nails to hit. Although the curated items have a high ‘cool factor’ — how useful are they? For simplicity’s sake, I list these in alphabetical order and all prices mentioned are in USD.
1. Bixi controls your favourite apps and devices with a gesture when you have your hands full. For example, if you have a recipe on your iPad and you are making a recipe, when the iPad goes to sleep mode, Bixi will enable your device through hand signals. You can get it on Kickstarter for $99. I placed a business card next to it so you could see the size of the device.
2. D-vine can be called the ‘sommelier at home’ and is a tasting machine that serves the wine at a perfect temperature and oxygenation. The information about each wine is in a chip located on the flask. The main unit is $1800 and the individual wine flasks range from $5-20. It is meant for wine enthusiasts who enjoy a perfect glass of wine and are willing to pay a bit extra for it.
3. Helix cuff is a great looking bracelet that has a set of ear phones hidden in it. It is the first wearable wireless Bluetooth headphones worn on your wrist. It eliminates the one thing I hate about ear phones, the tangled headphone wires. I listened to the Helix Cuff ear phones and it delivered a great sound. It comes in six colours and costs $169. It is a great example of where technology and fashion meet.
4. The Oombrella is a great looking umbrella that seems to be ideal for the Vancouver weather. It is a connected umbrella that forecasts when it might rain, provides weather alerts and more importantly alerts you if you forget about it. Though at $85, I bet most of us would remember if you leave it behind at a restaurant.
5. Touch one smart watch keyboard is software that is used on smart watches to allow the user to do some typing. It displays a predictive keyboard around the face of the watch. I tried it and it does work as long as you have a dainty touch and good eye sight. It was easy to learn and the guy demonstrating it assured me that in no time I’d be typing at a rate of up to 19 words per minute. It works on any large face smart watch, but it is pricey at $299.
The above items all have that ‘cool factor’ — the real test is whether you would use them more than a couple of times. It was interesting to observe when I talked to the product representatives at CES that all the products are well funded and here to stay (and solve a real problem according to the exhibitors). If nothing else, we should admire their enthusiasm and willingness to try something new!