The Consumer Electronics Show doesn't officially open until 10 AM this morning, but as I've mentioned they've still had a bunch of events, including a few in the evening where a large ballroom is taken over about 100-150 vendors are invited along with press to have a more focused, semi-congenial experience than the morass once CES begins and the circus comes to town. Last night it was Pepcom's Digitial Experience, which is close in style to ShowStoppers which is tonight.
The two events are very similar (CES Unveiled is, too, though much more barebones), and which is "better" largely depends on which one gets more companies that year that fit what I write about. It goes back-and-forth. Companies aside, Showstoppers is better run, so I enjoy the experience more -- Pepcom always has some "theme" which is generally pointless and annoying. (This year it was football with "Tailgate Technology.") They also make the aisles smaller, on the assumption that being crowded gives a sense of excitement and urgency -- which all it does is make things more crowded and difficult to get around. And their food, while tasty, is more basic. (Hey, it's at dinner time, so these things matter.) But they get good companioses there, just like ShowStoppers (some years better, some not, as I said), and that's the most important thing.
So far, between CES Unveiled and Pepcom, there's been a good mix of things to see. Some wonderful, some very odd, and some very good but nothing I'd ever write about. Lots of beauty care tech products, for instance, and it seems more this year than in the past. Including more "Smart" mirrors that connect to the Internet to provide information on the mirror, stream music, change lighting and more -- many explaining that they each are the first to do this, even though I've seen them at CES for the past couple of years. But then, LOTS of companies tell you they are the "World's First" at CES. Also, lots of products that are high-end techie -- one, from France, creates multi-dimensional imaging of geography to help cities plan development, including underground for plumbing systems. Very impressive, but nothing I'd ever review...needless-to-say. Unless I decide to transition into city planning.
Among some of the additional products that have caught my eye -- for good reasons and other.
The Planet Cosmo Communicator is a combination mobile phone and camera that opens up into a pocket computer. When folded, it's a bit large compared to today's phone market -- perhaps the size of an All-in-One remote control -- but it's an interesting, multi-use device that will retail for around $800 when it's released mid-year. That may seem high, though consider that a lot of mobile phones sell for that, if not more.
Lumicharge is the updated, second-generation of a very nicely-designed bedside/reading lamp. It provides updated time-date-weather information on the stem, is very flexible for where the light will focus, has several adjustments for three types of lighting (bright white, soft white, yellow) and a dimmer. But also there is a wheel that lets you choose which sort of adapter plug to use for charging your phone (micro-USB, Apple Lightning and USB-C) and even a night light.
On the odd end is Moona -- which is a Smart pillow. Yes, really. They say that the temperature around a person's head and shoulders most impacts sleep (whether this is true or not, who knows?). So, you can regulate the temperature the change throughout the night, letting you (they say...) got to sleep faster, have a deeper sleep and wake up gently. Me, I suspect one's mattress has more of an impact than a few degrees at your pillow, but perhaps it does help.
Even more odd is Dfree, which is the "first" wearable device for incontinence. I do suspect this is the first and perhaps only. But I also think, odd as it is, it is actually useful. For people who actually do suffer from the condition, what this does is you stick an ultrasound sensor on your abdomen, and it predicts ahead of time when you will need to go to the bathroom, and then send an alert to the app on your cell phone.
There also was the Navatics drone -- but a very different one from those we see flying overhead. This was for underwater. So, it's a device you can manually control from afar to take underwater photography. Quite interesting I think, particularly if you don't care to scuba dive. But I'm sure it has even more substantive applications, as well.
I mentioned yesterday that I've received email press releases about several pocket translators, and saw one at Sunday's CES Unveiled. I ran across yet another at Pepcom, this the Pocketalk and had a chance to check it out -- and from my limited look, it worked extremely well. It quickly translated my English phrases into French -- and my French phrases into English. And it did so in text and speech. The device handles 74 languages and retails for $300.
There were a couple of interesting devices that were basic in concept but with some added twists. The problem is that both -- perhaps they're still in the early stages of release, and prices may eventually drop (though they'd have to plummet) -- are wildly expensive:
One is the Reviver Auto, which is a digital license plate. It's been approved in California and Arizona, which about 10 more states on the cusp. (It can be used anywhere, but these are the only states so far where you can register your car with them.) It allows you to personalize your plate, include messages, and with upgraded apps will allow registering your vehicle and use auto-pay features (and show you've paid). But right now, it costs between $500-800, depending on which version. When I asked the head of the company who they've found is buying these, he enthusiastically said said "Everyone from Toyota owners to high-end cars." As politely as I could, I smiled and said, "Please don't tell me that 'everyone' is willing to spend $500-800 on a license plate." After a pause, he replied, "Oh, no, I don't mean that, just that we've found that..."
The other Changer from 49101 -- this is a clever wireless, Bluetooth earphone that allows you to separate the cord and use it not only as a charger cord with a power pack, but also connect to another mobile phone and recharge your own phone with it. I said to the PR person, "So, all you need is this device...and a really, really, really good friend who'll let you deplete his own phone's power." The guy smiled and said, "Exactly." Quips aside, it's great, simple technology. The problem is that right now it costs $150. That's for basically earphones and a cable. The price has to drop drastically, or this will go nowhere.
As for going somewhere, the doors open pretty soon, so I'll finish up some work here and dive into the circus that awaits. More later...
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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