CES Unveiled

Jan 09, 2014 No Comments by

If we’re honest, parsing the trends and cool new stuff at CES could be done by attending only a couple of key events – CES Unveiled and Showstoppers – and by perusing the noteworthy products selected by the Consumer Electronics Association (the US trade body that hosts CES) that accumulate in a literal showcase at The Venetian hotel towards the end of the week.

CES Unveiled happened on Sunday night in one of the gi-mungous ballrooms at Mandalay Bay.  At 4pm the seething hordes of the geek media were let in to swarm around buffet tables groaning with free food and bars serving equally free booze.  Somewhere amidst the platters of shrimp and beef skewers there were selected brands showing their products at very many small stands.  Think tech jumble sale.  How exhibitors are selected for CES Unveiled we couldn’t say, but we hope they’re not representative of the rest of the show because most of the stuff was yawningly dull.

There were headphones from Bello and Yurbuds that were nice and nice and cheap.  Parrot appealed to the small boy not-so-well hidden in most attendees with a new 4-rotor drone, although its payload carrying ability is likely to preclude explosive ordnance, so you’re left with maybe a weeny spy camera and simple annoyance value.  For frightening old ladies a remote controlled, hovering drone is hard to beat.

Schwinn showed a sat-nav for bicycles which took the form of what looks like a light – which it is, as well – a handlebar unit that syncs with an app and then you’re in much the same territory as an in-car sat-nav as the unit guides you to your destination with blinking arrows and voice.  Whether the voice will be loud and clear enough to compete with traffic remains to be heard/seen.

Medical monitoring continues apace, whether related to fitness or health; gizmos that measure blood pressure and blood oxygen levels, for example and those nasty Fitbugs and Fitbits that measure how many steps or paces you’ve taken each day and chide you in a digitally passive-aggressive fashion if you’ve failed to measure up.  They cheer if you’ve exceeded your goals too, but who needs the approval of an app, for god’s sake?  Find some other parameters to measure what a wonderful human being you are; do charity work, give beggars money.  Where’s the app for that?

Reebok were not really showing their Checklight (more here) – it was there, on a stand, but alone and without anyone to demonstrate it.  It’s principal application would be for American Football because it’s worn around the head, integrated into a skull cap, and measures force of impact by how quickly your bonce comes to a stop from having been moving very swiftly indeed.  It could work for rugby players or football goalkeepers but you’d look like a dick wearing the cap unless you had some sort of protective head-gear like a scrum cap to hide it under.  A fine idea, though, especially because it will over-ride macho denial in kids who may not want to realise they’ve been concussed.  The Checklight represents the positive side of ‘wearables’ in that it has a tangible benefit independent of the volition of the individual wearing it, unlike bugs and bits and their ilk, which seem to be virtual carrot-stick devices for morons that help them reach ‘goals’ that are often little more than sweaty navel-gazing.  Much more of such products later.