CES 2019: The Consumer Electronics Show Descends on Las Vegas

Every year folks gather from all over the world to get a peek at what consumers will be plugging in during the coming months. A staggering number of companies, large and small, will be vying for share of mind in Vegas. They each hope to bring a better mousetrap to the market, translating their R&D investment into revenue.

Before I get to the wide range of products on offer, I pose a question that is being whispered by many: will there be enough electricity to go around for all these gadgets?

While we await the endless energy supply promised by fusion, there is everyday a finite amount of electricity that can be generated around the globe. When you add up all the IoT (Internet of Things) gadgets, all the computers, smartphones, electric toilets, electric cars, electric Harley-Davidsons, drones, juicers, routers, powered speakers, turntables, humidifiers, dehumidifiers and TVs that will be plugged in, it makes you wonder. The number of electric items will keep increasing, and where will all those watts come from? Well, perhaps the future is so bright that I gotta wear shades. With that, here is a cruise around the floors at CES.

Wagz, Inc is a “smart pet tech company that connects people to their pets using first-in-kind technologies to build the only system that deliver a completely connected pet lifestyle.” The company has a few products coming to market next month. I am looking forward to equipping our dogs with the Wagz Explore Smart Collar, “the only smart collar on the market that lets you set precise boundaries and humanely contain your dog.” I might also look forward to using my smart phone and the Wagz Go-Smart Door to safely control when we let our dogs get outside, and avoid the jailbreak mentality they seem to pursue.

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Altigo is a new online mobile accessories brand that pairs popular technology with attractive design. Speaking of “where will all that electric juice come from,” the company has a thoughtful line of portable chargers to keep us up and running when too far from an outlet. The company has expanded its lineup of products to include new wireless headphones and liquid silicone iPhone® cases. The latter is designed with three layers, including a tough polycarbonate middle layer for exceptional drop protection and a honeycomb thermal inner layer to facilitate heat dissipation.

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Coway is introducing their Bidetmega, which will elevate your bathroom experience.” It is hard to argue when the company has made a more robust bidet that will “customize the water stream to the conditions of the user for a neater and more refreshing cleaning process” via a two stage sterilization system that “consists of flow channel sterilization for every channel of water flow in the bidet and nozzle sterilization for the nozzles easily exposed to contamination which allow users to use the product with relief and for better cleaning.” Talk about fresh! And the unit features an eco mode that reduces the energy use time and standby electricity consumption, addressing my opening concern.

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Plantronics has been in the audio business for a long time, known often for their desk and office solutions for headphones and conference call technology. They are leveraging their expertise with an entry into the wireless workout earbud sector with the FIT 3100, part of their BackBeat line. With 15 hour battery life and waterproof design, the design certainly makes a splash. The company touts their “Always Aware” design, which is indeed a safety feature ensuring you don’t lose yourself in the music. That design decision compromises the bass response to some degree, but it is a worthy tradeoff given the implications of working out in an otherwise clueless state. The rubbernecked tips and earflaps ensure a solid fit, which is often a problem with wireless designs that risk the bud popping out of the ear and out of sight. This model was given a 2019 CES Innovation Award.

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Avnet is introducing one of the coolest IoT products. Music: Not Impossible is wearable technology that transforms how the deaf community experiences live music by generating musical vibrations on the skin. “Comprised of a lightweight vest, wrist bands and ankle bands featuring Vibrotextile technology, the product creates an immersive sensory experience for both deaf and hearing concert goers. The initiative is part of a multi-year partnership that combines Avnet’s product design and manufacturing expertise with Not Impossible Lab’s mission to provide greater access to technology for the sake of humanity.” This is a laudable goal.

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Muse is a company that has brought thoughtful technology to the burgeoning awareness of meditation as a solution in this accelerating world. It may seem oxymoronic to inject technology into the practice of mindfulness, but Muse has leveraged deep research into the design of their products. The company will be introducing their new sleep meditation wearable, tentatively called “Fabric,” a flexible and soft headband that will allow Musers to practice more comfortably while drifting off to sleep. The company is also introducing in several weeks a series of guided meditations available on a subscription basis. I look forward to checking out the company’s foray into a content-based revenue model.

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Stern Pinball is known in arcades around the globe as a key progenitor of the American game of pinball. The company has steadily incorporated electronics into its models over the years, and has undertaken a series of thoughtful licenses to amplify the gameplay. The company’s latest line of pinball machines will feature the TV hit sitcom The Munsters. “Players will be transported to 1313 Mockingbird Lane, joining the entire Munsters family on this haunted pinball adventure: Herman, Raven, Lily, Spot and Grandpa.” Stern touts its immersive gameplay experience via its proprietary electronics hardware system enabling high-definition graphics and innovative animations on the high-definition video display. In a nod to my issue above, the company’s design “reduces system complexity and energy usage resulting in enhanced reliability and simplified servicing. The state-of-the-art electronic system also powers a high-fidelity 3-channel audio system that is three times more powerful than audio systems of previous generations.”

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Duxiana is answering the question about the last place you may want Alexa listening in: the bedroom. For folks who seek the ultimate in connectivity, they are touting a luxury Dux bed with Alexa built in, “which will serve as the centerpiece for bedtime routines.” With tech creeping into the bedroom (I bet ~87% of readers plug their phone in bedside, and it is often the last thing they touch before lights out), this $5000 bed actually seeks to reverse the trend. I am not sure what more I can add to this update, I will let your minds wander.

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Steam CC answers the age-old question: why can’t I take a selfie and see it in the foam of my cappuccino? The Ripple Maker and Ripple app will let you send ANY image or message from your smartphone to be reproduced onto lattes, cappuccinos or any foam based beverages. And that includes a fresh pint of Guinness stout! The high-resolution results (known as Ripples) are created in a matter of seconds. And inevitably, that will result in another round of images to be shared. I will be adding more unique products in the next few days.                    


Brad Auerbach has been covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.

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