Tuesday, January 21, 2014

CES 2014: An Overview of Innovative New Products Introduced at This Year's International Tradeshow

by Mary Faller
Consumer Electronics Association's annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), took place January 7-10 in Las Vegas, NV with over 3,200 exhibitors that introduced about 20,000 innovative technological breakthroughs. According to an article in the Business Wire, Karen Chupka, Senior VP of CES said, “Technology of the future was widespread at the 2014 CES where executives from every major industry came to see, touch, interact and do business at the world’s intersection for innovation. Amazing new products emerged in the areas of wireless, apps, automotive, digital health and fitness, 3D printing, startup tech and so much more. It was an incredible event that brought the global tech community together and successfully celebrated and showcased the amazing innovation that is a hallmark of our industry.” This year’s tradeshow offered a buffet of delectable technological innovations that are sure to spark interest in a wide variety of consumers.

Wearable Tech
Intel Edison Smart Baby Onesie at CES 2014Some of the most innovative technological advances introduced at CES were wearable technologies. Intel showcased their new Intel Edison technology through a device that helps monitor the health of an infant. The "smart onesie" works to transmit the baby’s breathing and other vital information to a connected coffee cup. The coffee cup then reflects the child’s condition on a small digital display. Intel Edison is a newly announced computing system inside a Scan Disc (SD) card that also has Wi-Fi connectivity.

Another front-runner in the wearable technologies group of CES was the LG Lifeband Touchand Heart Rate Earphones. This wearable monitor is a practical accessory that is lightweight and simple in nature. It is health oriented but also figures in applications to work with smartphones, which is a new technology that other fitness monitoring bands have not developed at this point. The Lifeband Touch is a “C” shape to easily be applied and removed to a wearer’s wrist. This fitness accessory works with both iOS and Android processing systems, and is an accelerometer-based fitness tracker with waterproof capabilities. It has a touchscreen interface like other fitness bands currently on the market; however, the Lifeband Touch has extra features such as music controls, call notifications, volume control, and call silencing. In addition to the Lifeband Touch, consumers can use LG’s Heart Rate Earphones which feature Perform Teck sensors in each earbud, making continuous contact and therefore sending heart rate and oxygen consumption data via Bluetooth technology. This technology should be available for purchase by mid 2014.

In keeping with healthy monitoring innovations, Kolibree’s connected toothbrush deserves a mention. Kolibree introduced a mobile application and adjoining smart toothbrush that monitors your brushing habits. According to CES, “Essentially, the brush records how someone cleans their teeth. It keeps track of how long the brushing lasted, and how rigorous it was in terms of reaching each and every tooth, and the gums. There’s a bit of gameplay built in which challenges users to do better next time, and the company has created an API, hoping that third-party developers will come up with additional apps that will inspire users to brush more, and more effectively.” Several versions of this toothbrush can be purchased for $100 to $200 in the third quarter of 2014. The application can also record data from multiple brushes which would come in handy for family households.

One of the most anticipated innovations in the wearable technology market are smart glasses. CES showcased the Lumus DK40 smartglasses which are similar to Google Glass with the difference of them being lighter in weight and less bulky. The Lumus is a high-end head-up display (HUD) that puts computerized material such as a Twitter feed, geographical coordinates, Facebook updates, Yelp reviews, and other online content directly in the wearer’s view at the right eye. According to CES reviews, “Perhaps the most important difference between the Lumus DK40 and others, apart from using actual glass lenses, is that there’s no fat cube of a beam splitter, or awkward separate projector screen. Lumus, a 13-year veteran in the field, has embedded prisms as part of a coating onto the glass. Though they appear striped when you look at them, your eye glues them together to form a cohesive image.” Lumus projects this optical wearable technology will adapt to commercial frames in about a year and a half.

Homes Reimagined
If watching content on a small optical lens is not your cup of tea, the new Sony 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector may be the innovation you are looking for. This projector turns the consumer’s living room wall into a home theater screen. CES reported that, “Sony’s 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector…is housed in an attractive credenza that will look at home in a minimalist, modern environment.” The consumer would simply push the decorative credenza against a bare wall and the unit projects an image on the wall directly above it rather than across the room like other conventional projectors currently on the market. As a result this projector’s image can be sized to 147 inches diagonally. Essentially, the 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector would turn a conventional living room wall into a home theater.

Although a home theater screening system would be convenient, consumers still enjoy taking in a movie at the drive-in as the outdoor ambiance is a one of a kind experience. In that case, the consumer could hop in the newly introduced Audi A7 which boasts an autonomous driving technology (although still under development). Audi revealed this new technology which is designed to give drivers a break during traffic moving less than 40 mph. The new technology keeps the vehicle at a set distance from the preceding car and evenly between the two lane lines. In the initial conception, the A7 uses facial recognition cameras to identify if the driver was alert and paying attention to their surroundings. According to CES, “To enable Piloted Driving, Audi fitted the car with front and rear radar, a forwarded-looking laser, and a windshield-mounted camera. The radars and laser monitored other cars around the A7, while the camera detected the lane lines. An LCD on the instrument cluster showed a representation of the traffic around the A7. A computer discreetly mounted behind a panel in the cargo area analyzed this information, using it to control accelerator, brakes, and steering wheel.” With technology constantly improving and becoming “smarter”, there is a concern that consumers may not ever have to put any effort into any daily activities ever again.

The final innovative technology unveiled at CES came from Whirlpool with its smart appliances to make life easier for busy homeowners. Appliances currently on the market feature smart technologies, but in the end, they may not really make cooking dinner or doing the laundry a simpler task in the long run. Whirlpool introduced a whole line of innovative appliance concepts with a nod toward simplicity. According to CES, “The Whirlpool Connected Suite is all about the home and how appliances are gaining an increasingly ‘connected’ role in our lives. So instead of you having a one-way interaction with your appliances, your washer could let you know the best times for energy usage and your fridge could send you food preservation notifications. The idea is that these appliances should adjust to you so it’s easier than ever for you to get chores done.” Whirlpool also introduced the WashSquad Laundry App which provides household members with information on how to treat stains on clothing, how to wash certain fabrics, etc.

Whirlpool’s interactive cook top can also be controlled by voice or touch making the interactive concept the center of command in the kitchen. The interactive cook top allows users to access weather reports, calendars, recipes, etc. This interactive cook top could make preparing a meal a more organized and convenient task. In addition to the laundry and cook top technologies, Whirlpool also introduced a refrigerator with CoolVox Sound System. This interesting concept would allow homeowners to entertain guests with music via Bluetooth technology through the integral speakers. The connected appliances for the home are expected to go on sale at Lowe’s in the summer of 2014.

With each annual CES, innovative technologies bring our world closer to those images on The Jetsons television show from years ago. Self-driving cars, watches that allow the wearers to communicate with one another, and fully-automated homes don’t seem like such a stretch from reality as innovations continue to become available to consumers.


“Innovation Thrives at the 2014 International CES,” BusinessWire, www.marketwatch.com, January 16, 2014.

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