While it’s always fun to look at the greatest big screen televisions I can’t afford, self-driving cars, and other mainstream technologies, one of the best things about CES is looking at the startup companies that could have “The Next Big Thing.” Of course, many of these great ideas will never make it to the store shelves. There’s an area in the basement of the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas called “Eureka Park.” Over the years, the number of exhibitors in Eureka Park has grown from a few dozen to more than six hundred this year. In large part, it’s thanks to new means of funding through crowdsourcing campaigns such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Some of last year’s good ideas have translated into this year’s shipping (or about to be shipping) products. Others were never heard from again. But we set out not to pick winners or losers, rather to select some of the products we think are creative and innovative with a shot at success. While most of the products we’re listing here came from Eureka Park, some came from the show floor or some crowded press events.
K’Track Glucose by PK Vitality – There are more than 29 million diabetics in the United States. Most of them need to test their blood sugar several times each day, which means painful finger pricks. So it’s no surprise that for many of them the Holy Grail is transdermal blood glucose monitoring – that is, testing sugars without drawing blood. Now PK Vitality has come up with what may be the first viable alternative. Its Skin Taste technology uses micro needles to sample the fluid just below the skin. It uses replaceable pads that must be changed every thirty days. The system is currently undergoing FDA review and could be available his spring.
Clim8 Intelligent Clothing – Clim8’s intelligent shirt comes with embedded wires and sensors that will read your body’s temperature and turn on the heat if it’s needed. You can calibrate the temperature and make adjustments using a smartphone app. The company says the technology is adaptable for any next to skin clothing from hats and gloves to shirts and pants. The sensors monitor your activity, body temperature, and outside factors. By using garments with Clim8 technology you could get outdoors in the dead of winter without having to wear multiple layers of clothing.
FoldiMate Clothes Folding Robot – Folding clothing is one of the most boring, time-consuming household chores. Now, there’s a robot for that, or soon will be. You hang your clothes using clips outside the machine, and watch as it swallows it, steams out the wrinkles, perfumes it (if you’d like) and neatly piles it all into a tray. The video is worth a look:
Rool’in E-Sunny Solar Powered Bicycle Wheel – This bike wheel is equipped with high-efficiency solar cells, making this motorized electric wheel completely self-sufficient. Thanks to the presence of photovoltaic cells on the wheel hub and to specially developed algorithms, the battery of the E-Sunny recharges automatically, while at rest and on the go. By using a smartphone app, the user can choose among three power levels. Range on a single charge is about 15 miles. The E-Sunny is expected to be available this June for approximately $500 in wheel sizes of 26″ and 28″.
ModoBag Riding Luggage – Imagine that on your next airline trip, instead of dragging your rollaboard through the airport, you could just ride on it to the gate. That’s the premise of the ModoBag. This TSA compliant carry-on has built-in handlebars and footrests so you can sit on it while it takes you through the airport. Okay, so you’ll get some looks. But won’t it be worth it? It’s currently on Indiegogo for a price of $1095 and is expected to be available in May of this year. Sure, it’s pricey, but if you’re of an age when walking miles through airports is a real pain, this may be worth it. And it will charge your smartphone and tablet as well.
SGNL Smart Strap – This is a watch strap that works together with your smartphone to let you answer your phone with a simple touch. But once you answer, the sound from the phone is transmitted through your body to your fingertip. To hear the call, you stick your finger in your ear. Really. It’s expected to ship to early backers in February at a price of less than $150. Of course, if this technology catches on we could see a generation of phone users walking down the street with their fingers in their ears. ‘Nuff said.
WAIR Active-Wearable Air Purifier Scarf – The Wair Active has an anti-pollution mask for comfort and efficiency and an eco-certified textile scarf. But it also adds an active filtration box that replaces the user in the filtration effort thus removing any sensation of suffocation or heat. This box is directly connected to the SUPAIRMAN application which will help you know when and where to use your WAIR, will send alerts directly in the scarf and will notify you when your filter needs to be changed. It’s expected to be available in the coming weeks for prices ranging from about $50 to $90.
Mymanu CLIK – Translating Wireless Earbuds – There were a host of wireless earbuds – or airbuds – on display at CES, and while some of them offered great audio technology, the Mymanu CLIK were the only earbuds we saw that offer real-time translation. It uses a microprocessor in the earbuds and your smartphone to translate as many as 37 languages. It’s almost in real time, with delays of about 5-10 seconds. It comes with a recharging case and includes APTX technology for better Bluetooth sound, as well as noise canceling. Mymanu CLIK is expected to be available in May and is taking pre-orders at just under $200.
SPUD – Arovia Spontaneous Pop Up Display – We had heard about this technology some months ago, but this was the first time we’d seen it in action. This is a portable display that goes from the size of a couple of decks of playing cards to a 24″ display in seconds. It sets up a little like an umbrella. This is an ideal product for the 50+ market with its diminishing eyesight. It will allow the user to take an 11″ or 13″ laptop on the road, then hook up the SPUD so you don’t have to squint or pinch and zoom in order to see the screen. It can be used as the computer’s primary screen, or as a secondary screen. Price is just under $400 and it’s supposed to be available late this summer.
Connected Pillboxes – It costs the U.S. healthcare industry an astounding figure of roughly $290 billion each year for medical non-compliance. In other words, patients who don’t fill their prescriptions or don’t take their meds. So no wonder technology is stepping in to try to cut that number and make some money for themselves. We looked at three different solutions at CES, and while each is useful, each also has its shortcomings.
PillDrill – This is a comprehensive system for tracking medication compliance that uses a smartphone app to notify loved ones or caregivers. To use it, you load your meds into small daily containers – generally one for morning meds, another for evening meds, though you can add strips of containers if you need more times. You tag your pill bottles or syringes and swipe the tagged container over the device when the medication is taken. It is fairly complex, and not really intended for mobility, but it gets the job done. One advantage over other systems we saw is that you can tag things like nasal sprays and syringes, not just pills. Price for the basic unit is $199.
Medissimo iMediPac – The IMediPac is a smart portfolio that is pre-filled by a pharmacist with all the patient’s prescription meds. Each packet is sealed for the right day and time. When the packet is punctured and the meds are taken, a notification is sent via a smartphone app to the caregiver. The base system sells for just under $300. There are some limitations. The system won’t recognize syringes or spray bottles, and because it’s all done by the pharmacist it’s not easy to add over the counter medications such as baby aspirin or stool softeners. It’s intended primarily for those who are homebound, and not very mobile.
TinyLogics Memo Box – This is one of the only truly mobile solutions we saw for a pill reminder system. The Smart Pill Box has a variety of inserts so it can fit blister packs, as well as sets of pill holders for various times. It works with a smartphone app that you pre-program to show what pills need to be taken at what times. It will even notify you or your caregiver if you’ve left home without your meds. Price is roughly $45 and it should ship in May.
The Changhong H2 Smartphone – Shades of the Star Trek Tricorder. This is the first smartphone that includes a spectrometer so you can analyze the molecular structure of almost anything, from foods to rocks. The phone uses a technology called SCIO from Consumer Physics. The technology has been around for a couple of years, but this is the broadest implementation to date. Using Changhong H2, consumers can analyze the properties of foods, liquids, medication, body metrics, and much more. This will give consumers new ways to improve their personal wellness, select the best fruits and vegetables, stick to their diets and nutritional needs, and verify product authenticity. The device has a big 6″ screen, and is expected to be released in the U.S. later this year. No word on pricing.
3D Sound Virtualiser – The audio industry has long been searching for the perfect way to truly reproduce sound the way you hear it naturally. In other words, is it possible to recreate someone whispering from behind your left ear? Now, two scientists from Southampton University have come up with a 3D Sound Virtualizer Soundbar that claims it can do just that, using an array of speakers that will track head movement to create a perfect 3D sound field around the listener. So far it’s just a technology demo, but holds the promise of dramatically changing the way we listen to music and watch movies in our homes. You can see the demo here: