With the price of connectivity and sensor technologies plummeting, it’s no surprise that this year’s Consumer Electronics Show is looking to be heavy with gadgets that monitor – and promise to improve – virtually every aspect of human life.
Such gizmos were all over CES Unveiled, the preview event on Sunday to the big tech super-show, which officially kicks off on Tuesday. The pre-show of 75 exhibitors offered up a small taste of the more than 3,000 companies comprising the main expo, where an estimated 20,000 new products will be launched.
Personal tech was well represented at Unveiled, with sensors and communications technology being incorporated in increasingly imaginative – if sometimes not entirely practical – ways.
Attachable sports cameras are all the rage now, but California-based Liquid Image is taking them one step further. Rather than mounting a video camera on a helmet, the company has embedded an HD camera into a pair of goggles, so that it effectively sits on your forehead.
The skier, snowboarder or snowmobiler can pivot the Apex HD+ up and down based on their position and use it capture either 1080p video at 30 frames per second or 720p at 60 frames. It can also do photos, with a button hidden in the strap controlling single frames or continuous shooting. The rechargeable battery and micro SD card holder are also contained in the strap.
The Apex HD+ also connects via Wi-Fi to Android and iOS phone and tablet apps, where videos and photos can be viewed and even live streamed, although the camera can’t record and beam to a mobile device at the same time.
France’s Withings has made a name for itself over the past few years with its Wi-Fi-enabled scales. The Smart Body Analyzer is the company’s latest version, adding a number of new sensors to its capabilities.
Besides monitoring weight and body mass index, the scale can also measure heart rate readings and carbon dioxide levels in the air. As such, Withings intends the Analyzer for bedroom use, where it can monitor air quality and advise users as to when they should open their windows. All of the other gathered info, meanwhile, is beamed to a smartphone app and can be shared with a doctor.
The company also debuted the tiny Smart Activity Tracker, which counts the number of steps a user takes, plus the calories they burn, the quality of their sleep and even their heart rate. It also connects to Android and Apple devices via Bluetooth. Withings is planning to release both products by the end of March.
Air quality must be a real problem in France, if the number of companies developing relevant sensors is any indication. Netatmo on Sunday showed off its new Urban Weather Station, which is comprised of two small, metallic cylinders that measure air quality, humidity, barometric pressure and even noise levels.
The smaller cylinder sits outside the home and monitors exterior environmental conditions while the slightly taller one looks after the interior. Both connect to Android and Apple apps and allow users to view their results in charts, then respond accordingly. For example, the app alerts users if their interior air quality is worse than that outside, and suggests they open a window if so.
Users can also form networks and share their information with others. That way, parents across a neighbourhood could, for example, find that there’s too much pollution on a humid day and keep their kids indoors.
Virtually every parent has at some point had to tell their children to slow down when eating. Eating quickly, after all, causes poor digestion and weight gain. Now, if only there were a technology that could help with that…
Oh wait, there is. The HapiFork, from Hong Kong-based HapiLabs, has a capacitive sensor that tells you when you’re eating too fast. The slightly bulky fork measures your normal "servings" per minute, as well as the intervals between them, then vibrates if you exceed them. It may not be as effective as an electric shock, but the vibration is meant to be a reminder to slow down.
HapiLabs is also planning to release an app with tips on how to better eat when it releases the techno-fork within the next few months.