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Tag Archives: CES 2012

[CES 2012] Eton Crank Radio Could Keep You In The Loop While In The Dark

By David Ponce

Emergency radios aren’t the most exciting products, but when you end up needing them, you wish you’d paid attention. The more sensible of you will appreciate Eton’s FRX series of safety radios. Pictured is the FRX3, the top of the line model which comes with a couple neat features, like an LED flashlight and a USB out for recharging your cell phone. Its internal battery itself is recharged either via the top solar panel (the outline of which also glows in the dark to help you find the unit) or with some elbow grease via the crank. I played with it and it feels very rugged. Aside from AM/FM tuning, it also receives NOAA warnings, so you can know when it’s safe to stick your head out the shelter again.

Again, this is not the sort of thing you’re going to try to impress your friends with, but at $60 iin black or red, it might just be the one item you were glad you bought next time a Katrina comes around.

[ Product Page ]

[CES 2012] DocuSign Ink Makes The Paperless Office Possible

By David Ponce

Ok so this is going to sound like it’s terribly boring. E-Signatures… Ugh! Right? But hear me out, because this is actually interesting. So this is the thing, the dead tree business is really going to die. Like the VHS: it’s going the way of the dodo. This is a fact. But it’s a painful transition and some of us still suffer from the ongoing stretch marks. Take contracts. If for some reason you’re sent a contract over email, you’re likely going to be asked to print it, sign it and FAX it back. Fax? Even if you don’t fax, and you just print, sign, scan and email… that’s still archaic! Who prints? The printing business is a racket anyway, so DocuSign is really onto something with their new DocuSign Ink product. It’s an application on the Apple app store that lets you take any document sent to you and sign it digitally. This is how. It downloads your document (any format), converts it to a PDF and lets you affix your previously created signature and date anywhere on it. You can then email it right back and you’re done. The best part is that it’s completely free to the end user and works even if the company sending you a document doesn’t have it.

Brilliant.

[CES 2012] Basis Wristwatch One-Ups FitBit And Company

By David Ponce

Now that the technology is maturing (read: getting small enough), more and more gadgets are being conceived with the goal to track our health and make it more fun and interactive to stay fit. I reviewed the Fitbit Ultra and came away reasonably impressed. But at Digital Experience here in Vegas I saw something that could knock it out of the water. It’s a wristwatch and it’s called the Basis. The reason it’s cool is that it tracks more than elevantion and steps taken (the Fitbit’s two metrics). Being a wristwatch, it’s able to keep tabs on your heartrate, your temprature, your sleeping patterns and your galvanic skin response, as well as the number of steps taken. These five metrics are then fed into the company’s algorithm and spit out a more accurate, more granular picture of your overall health. We didn’t get down into the nitty gritty of what exactly they mean by “health”, but the fact that they track five metrics as opposed to two (three if you actually bother to put the Fitbit on your wrist to sleep), makes the Basis a more compelling product in my eyes.

It doesn’t currently connect to the cloud through Bluetooth, though that’s in the works. It’s a USB affair for now. And it’s $200 on pre-order, with shpping sometime in Q2.

[ Product Page ]

[CES 2012] Gametel Controller Brings Physical Gamepad To Mobile Devices

By David Ponce

Another day, another Bluetooth connected gamepad for mobile devices. Each iteration tweaks the features a little bit, but I did manage to get my hands on this particular one, the Gametel. It’s sturdily built and has an expendable clasp that can accomodate more than just one phone. As long as your device is less than 5 inches in width, you can have it sitting right above the controller. You can of course use this with tablets as well, but you’ll have more of a console/controller interaction rather than that of a mobile gaming device. And unlike previous devices I’ve seen, this one is compatible with around 150 games.

This accessory has been available for a while in Europe and should make it across the pond sometime in Q1 of this year. You can expect a similar price than its European counterpart, and that’s around $60.

[ Product Page ]

[CES 2012] Evertune Bridge Keeps Your Guitar In Tune At All Times

By David Ponce

This is not a new product by any means, but I got to hear a demonstration of the Evertune guitar bridge at The Startup Debut and was really impressed. It’s a specially designed guitar bridge that keeps it in tune at all times. The way it works is as follows. The frequency of a string is determined by three factors: its length, weight and tension. Two of these, length and weight, are pretty constant. But changes in tension will cause changes in pitch. So the bridge features springs that pull on the string with a constant force. It you turn the tuning peg one way or the other, the spring in the bridge adjusts to keep the tension the same, thus staying in tune. And it works. Really, really well.

Now, you have to understand the system’s limitations. There’s an effective range outside of which turning the pegs will change the frequency, so you have to stay within that. But there might be times when you actually want to get to the upper edge of that range and play there; if you want to bend your strings for example. And this is somewhat of a weakness in the system, in my opinion. Most guitar playing involves bending of some kind, so you’d want to stay at the edge of the effective range most of the time anyway. But if you’re spending time finding that edge, you might as well spend it tuning the guitar in the first place. It’s a fundamental flaw, but not one that dimishes the Evertune’s effectiveness. If you want to play chords for example, this is perfect. It’s for more bluesy stuff that you’re going to run into trouble.

In any case, the device itsellf is around $330 but you will need to spend more money on having someone install it for you, and this typically costs an extra $200-$300. The company is working to have guitars with Evertune pre-installed.

[ Product Page ]

[CES 2012] SolarKindle Cover Keeps You Reading Longer, Makes You Go Outside

By David Ponce

Reading is fun and now that you don’t have to carry a bulky dead tree block around, you can do it in more places than ever. If your eReader of choice happens to be a Kindle, then a company called SolarMio has a solar-powered Kindle case with an 800 lux LED light. Pop the light out and it turns on, pop it back in and it’s off. This way you can keep reading in your bed with no nightlight after you’ve spent a day outside, in the park or whatever, reading. It’s a concept similar to the Kapsule light-stand I wrote about a while back, but this particular cover doesn’t use the Kindle’s power source at all…. and there’s no stand. Instead, there’s a 1,250mAh battery that can provide up to 50 hours of illumination when fully charged, and better yet, can also be used as backup power for your Kindle. It’s not clear how long charging takes but the company states that one hour of sunlight can give you three days of reading. You can of course still charge your Kindle the normal way.

It’s made from pleather and costs $80. Shipping will start January 14th.

[ ProductPage ]

[CES 2012] EverSense Is A Fancy Thermostat

By David Ponce

The company likes to call it an energy management system, but that’s a lot like calling a secretary a communications routing specialist. That’s not to say the EverSSense thermostat from Allure Energy doesn’t do a couple of nifty things, the main one of which is to keep track of your whereabouts and to turn the heat (or cold) on when you get to a certain distance of your home. This of course does save quite a bit in energy bills.

This is not all it does, otherwise why the large-ish box? Turns out that it’s also a media player that can playback music from your iPhone through small speakers on either side of it.

I’m not sure that I ever expected or even wanted my thermostat to be playing music so I find it hard to justify the $349 asking price for what is basically the strange marriage of relatively banal features. If this is your cup of tea however, expect to see it in Q2 of this year.

[ Press Release ]

[CES 2012] Withings Now Has A Connected Scale To Weigh Babies

By David Ponce

Weighing yourself doesn’t have to be boring and Withings knows this. They already make a really cool scale that connects to the internet and uploads your weight and bodyfat percentage to the cloud. And this year they’re releasing a new connected scale meant to specifically weigh babies. Most parents are understandably obssessed with their shiny new babies, so tracking their child’s growth with geeky abandon is a pasttime Withings is hoping to cash in on. The Smart Baby Scale has a basket, which you can remove once the baby reaches toddler size. It is accurate to 10 grams, and will weigh your offspring up to 55 lbs. The real fun however starts with the related application. Along with the growth curve chart, parents can attach notes and photos and build a detailed timeline.

There is no price for this at the moment, though it should be available in Q2 of this year.

[ Press Release ]

[CES 2012] Zomm Releases Lifestyle Connect, A Personal Health And Safety Monitoring Device

zomm

We last wrote about Zomm two years ago when they were launching their wireless leash product. At CES this year, the company is releasing a new device called Lifestyle Connect. The idea behind it is to make it easier to stay safe, especially for those of fragile health. The small keychain-like device connects to your Bluetooth enabled phone and gives you one-touch access to a Personal Safety Concierge. This concierge will then assist you with what you need, be it to call your friends, an ambulance or the police. This functionality is also available on the Wireless Leash from two years ago, so the real innovation comes more from the fact that the Lifestyle Connect can also monitor your connected health sensors, like glucose meters, heart-rate sensors and fall detectors, and upload the data to the cloud. It is then available to your trusted friends, health practitioners or first responders in the case of emergency, any of which can be summoned, again, with just one touch.

The Lifestyle Connect is $199 and will ship in April. If you pre-order now, you also get 3 months of concierge service thrown in.