This was my last day at CES, and I get back to the homestead tomorrow. (Head's up to the elves, so they can get the place cleaned up...) As I think I mentioned, I check out of my hotel in the morning and at the end of the day I drive instead to Primm, on the state line, and stay overnight there. It means the drive back to Los Angeles in the morning is a half-hour shorter. That also means this will likely be the last posting until I get back, since I'll be leaving somewhat early in the morning. After I decompress, I'll check back in sometime in the late afternoon.
Today I headed instead to the Sands Convention Center (owned by the adorable Sheldon Adelson), rather than the Las Vegas Convention Center. The show floor is a less interesting for me, but still worth wondering through -- lots of "connected home" companies, and health and family type sections. There's also the "Best of Innovations" center, and the Eureka Park, which is a world of its own. This is basically for the start-ups, and it's a madhouse even by CES standards. Small booths are elbow to elbow, with streams of people elbowing their way through the elbows. Intriguing, too, is the mix -- some of the start-ups are quite fascinating, with a real chance. And others are...well, sort of insane. Most are not insane, but really don't stand much of a chance of succeeding, I don't think.
What do I mean by insane? Okay, one company was promoting its app with let's you make an appointment and pay for a haircut and a shave. I'm guessing that it hopes to have barbers you'll pay to sign up. I'm also guessing that the Yellow Pages work just fine for most humans.
On the other end are legitimate companies like Power Practical, who I've written about in my Writers Workbench tech reviews. You may also know of them from being on Shark Tank, and getting an investment from Mark Cuban. (Their initial product was the PowerPot, which campers not only serve as a pot for campers, but its technology allows boiling water to be converted in a way that the power can be used as a charger for your peripherals.) They have a number of new products, and really don't belong in the Eureka Park anymore.
Oddly, I ran into a couple of other Mark Cuban Shark Tank companies. One is Ilumi, who I met last year at the Eureka Park, as well, but they've now graduated to "upstairs." They make a high-quality Smart lightbulb that, among other things, lets you change its color. They said that the TV show is coming tomorrow (Saturday) to do a follow-up report on them. And the other is LuminAID, which was also in the Eureka Park -- it's run by two young women who developed a way to bring light to Haiti after it was pummeled by, I believe, a devastating hurricane. The plastic device is packed as small as one of those travel packs of Kleenex. A solar panel on it charges the product, and then you inflate it like a beachball, and it glows inside, basically becoming a lamp. As whimsy would have it, they said they're supposed to be on Shark Tank again tonight (Friday), in a follow-up report. I think it airs at 9 PM in Los Angeles, if you read this before it airs.
Inemotion is a French company (part of the "La French Tech" section there) with an offbeat, but interesting product. It's a vest than can inflate like an airbag. They mainly marketed it for skiiers, but it clearly has other uses, like construction workers who spend a lot of time on roofs. Or full-time drivers whose cars don't have airbags.
Viktor was far more odd, but I sort of liked it. It was a Smart pillow. Yes, really. But it's for the elderly who might have a hard time dealing with Smartphones, particularly if they spend a lot of time in bed. There is a panel with well-marked pictographs of its features -- the On button displays them on a TV screen, things like video-conferencing with family members, access to medical info, a way to send email, browse the Internet, or play games.
Upstairs, among the more substantive companies, the big German company Bosch had an interesting Smart lawn mower, the Indego Connect. In operates sort of like a Roomba, which you might have seen that sweeps up floors, though is far more sophisticated. You lay a wire around the edges of your property, and it runs along that to learn its boundary. Then, you can set it with a wide array of options for mowing, and it won't mow where it's already cut. It even knows that when it's low on power to head to its power station dock and recharge -- and then heads back to where it left off. Alas, it's only available in Europe, not the U.S.
Just so you don't think that only the odd live in the netherworld downstairs in Eureka Park, upstairs there was the Toto Neorest, which is a Smart toilet. Don't ask. I'm sure it has value and use. But it's just...well, you know.
Anyway, there was SO much more, especially down in Eureka Park. Hopefully I'll mention some of them -- the good, the bad and the ugly -- in my loooong wrap-up.
As for wrap-ups, that's it for now. Back to Los Angeles in the morning. Later...
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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