The best smart gadgets that stole the show at CES 2016
By Samantha Murphy Kelly, Mashable, 9 January 2016.
By Samantha Murphy Kelly, Mashable, 9 January 2016.
After a few years of showing off less-than-impressive smart gadgets at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, companies stepped it up this year by showing off innovative, but also useful, products.
From a food scanner that reveals the nutritional make-up of your meal to a refrigerator that tells you what’s inside while you’re at the grocery store, there was a creative spin on traditional high-tech tracking.
See also: The best tech of CES 2016
On the fitness side, wearables went beyond the wrist to include smart sneakers and a sports bra that tracks your steps, heart rate and overall workout. There was also a growing movement (thanks to Lego and Fisher-Price) around teaching young kids tech concepts, such as the basics of coding.
Here’s a look at some of the most buzz-worthy smart gadgets announced this week.
OMBra is the smart sports bra concept from clothing company OM, known for making web-connected workout shirts. The core of the OMbra, a small black box that sits above the torso, houses a range of sensors that track running performance indicators, such as distance, cadence, pace, heart rate and calories.
Positioned in a similar place to where a heart-rate strap may sit on the body, the bra collects data about your workout - like activity, breathing and heart rate - and sends it directly to a corresponding app. The start-up kit is US$149 for a bra and the fitness tracker - additional bras are US$59 (the fitness core can be detached from one and connected to another).
French startup DietSensor’s gadget promises to reveal the nutritional value of your meal by scanning its chemical make-up. The pocket-sized, Bluetooth-connected molecular sensor is called SCiO. It uses near-infrared spectroscopy (the analysis of how molecules interact with light) to determine the chemical make-up of food and drink. SCiO can analyze substances based on how their molecules interact with light. The SCiO scanner is available for US$249, while the app is free to download but requires a monthly US$10 fee.
Withings' WiFi-connected thermometer, Thermo (US$99.95), is used by hovering over the skin. While it's designed for babies - allowing parents to take readings in the middle of the night without disturbing the little one - it works just as well on adults. Plus, it's less invasive and more hygienic. The Thermo is placed just above the temporal artery, found at both temples on the forehead (now considered by medical institutions to be the most accurate spot to get a temperature reading).
4. Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator
The Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator has a giant touchscreen - 21.5 inches and 1080p - on the front and packs a small camera that lets you see what’s inside while you’re at the grocery store. It’s also the first third-party home appliance to feature Amazon Alexa, the digital voice assistant in Amazon Echo. The Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator should ship sometime in May and list for roughly US$5,000.
5. Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar
Fisher-Price's Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar (US$49.99) is more than what it seems: It teaches pre-schoolers the basics of learning to code. It comes with eight segments that feature a movement command icon on its surface (left, right, spin, make a noise, etc.) Once the segments are connected and the start button is pressed, the Code-a-Pillar will take the programmed route. While there isn't any actual computer programming taking place, it reinforces skills associated with writing code.
6. Hydrao Smart Shower
The Hydrao Smart Shower might be the solution to wasteful water consumption in the tub. The Bluetooth LE device connects to an iPhone or iPad app where you can set three alert intervals - for example, five gallons, seven gallons and 10 gallons. At each amount, the built-in LED lights will light up in three different colours to remind you how much water you’re using. In lieu of batteries, a tiny turbine uses the water to generate enough energy to power the lights and the Bluetooth connectivity.
7. Fitbit Blaze
The Fitbit Blaze (US$199) was met with mixed reaction when it was unveiled at CES, but the company's second attempt at a fitness watch is a big improvement in style over its predecessor and it's a whole lot smarter, too. The Blaze features a colourful touchscreen, a collection of stylish leather and stainless steel bands and an assortment of personalization features. While it puts fitness first - you won't be getting Twitter notifications on this thing - you'll be able to answer (or reject) phone calls, check out text messages and receive calendar alerts.
8. Under Armour Gemini 2
Under Armour’s Gemini 2 sneakers (US$180) are fitness trackers for your feet. The sensor-filled sneakers track your workouts without needing to tether to a smartphone. Slip on the pair, and the tiny sensors embedded within the soles track where you’re going, the distance you’ve travelled and calories burned - all details which are transmitted later to a corresponding app.
9. First Response Pregnancy Pro Stick
At-home pregnancy test company First Response announced its first-ever Bluetooth-enabled pregnancy test. Called the First Response Pregnancy Pro stick (in stores this spring), the physical test updates the brand’s Cycle & Ovulation app with the latest results in real time. The Pregnancy Pro stick works alongside the app, which helps to determine a woman’s most fertile days, based on info added by the user. The app also houses articles, tips and resources, as well as distractions such as videos and other visuals while women wait for test results.
10. Withings Go
Cheap fitness trackers are in and getting (almost) as smart as the higher-end models. Health monitoring veteran Withings introduced a US$69 activity tracker called the Withings Go, a device filled with several features you’d typically find on higher-end models. It has an always-on e-ink screen (rare for an inexpensive tracker!), and users can see their daily level of activity, along with a progress percentage. Its sensors are sensitive enough to know when you’re sleeping (it logs light and deep sleep cycles) and picks up when you’ve started to run or even swim.
BONUS: The Chevy Bolt
Additional reporting by Lance Ulanoff.
Top image: Withings Thermo. Credit: Withings.
[Source: Mashable. Edited. Top image added.]