When I walked in to the vast Las Vegas Convention Center for this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, I knew I had achieved “nerdvana.” A sea of colorful displays of new technologies awaited as nearly 4,000 exhibitors attempted to grab the attention of 160,000-plus techies who attended the show.
Companies like BMW, Panasonic, and Sony were competing for attention, overshadowing some of the start-ups with less-flashy booths. But as an editor for IEEE’s membership publication, I sought out technologies that matched with the organization’s mission to advance technology for the benefit of humanity. Here are the five products that impressed me the most:
Leaf by Bellabeat
There are a ton of wearables out there, but few are designed specifically for women. Enter Bellabeat: a start-up in Mountain View, Calif., that launched a gadget for soon-to-be and new mothers focused on their health.
Though many wearables are dedicated to fitness and health, mothers are unique—morning sickness or taking care of a fussy newborn can make it difficult to stay fit, let alone having the time to record and sync data from their wearable device. The Bellabeat Leaf, a small lightweight charm embedded with tiny biometric sensors can be worn around the neck or as a brooch. It monitors sleep, activity, and stress levels and automatically syncs this data with a smartphone. Leaf hit the market in September and is available for under US $120.
Seymour by Honeywell Life Care Solutions
Anyone with a chronic illness such as diabetes or heart disease knows how hard it can be to remember which medicines to take at what time as well as keep up with a special diet and exercise regimen.
To solve these problems, Honeywell Life Care Solutions developed Seymour—a tablet that helps people track their vital signs and transmits the data to their doctors or caregivers. It can also be programmed with personalized medication information, weight loss plans, daily reminders, and other tools, which helps patients stay organized and healthy while they recover at home. Seymour will launch in late 2015.
Smart Pedal by Connected Cycle
What if a bicycle pedal could track the miles, speed, route, and calories burned by the rider? That’s the idea behind Smart Pedal, an aluminum-bodied pedal that can replace one of those on your existing bike, developed by Connected Cycle, in Paris.
It generates all the power it needs to do these functions using a built-in dynamo—an electric generator that produces direct current. All the data is stored in the pedal itself, so riders don’t need to bring their smartphones along to track their ride. When the bike is back in range of the smartphone, the pedal transmits the data to an app via Bluetooth. It can also send an alert to users’ smartphones if someone else handles their bike. And if the bike is stolen, the user can track its location via GPS. The Smart Pedal, which is sold with a matching pedal, will hit the market later this year. Pricing is yet to be determined.
Float and OfficeIQ by Humanscale
Because I have a long commute and then sit at a desk for several hours a day, I’m interested in any device that will ease back pain and encourage physical activity while at work, which is why I’m a fan of standing desks.
The Float desk by Humanscale, an ergonomic furniture company based in New York City, features a unique counterbalance mechanism that lets you adjust the height easily without a cumbersome crank or using electricity. And its new OfficeIQ app uses embedded sensors in desks and chairs to help workers visualize how much time they’ve spent sitting and standing throughout the day to alert them when they’ve been at either of those activities for too long. Float itself isn’t new; it launched in 2012. And it has a hefty price tag of $1,500.
Driver Assist by Hyundai
Although I was focused on smaller companies and start-ups, a video for Hyundai’s soon-to-be-deployed Driver Assist technology blew me away, and solicited audible “wows” from other attendees. As a long-distance commuter, I feel it can solve a lot of the problems I come across on the road.
The navigation system does more than tell drivers how to reach a destination. It also displays upcoming street signs, warns the driver of other vehicles that are likely to cut them off, and helps them navigate difficult turns and exits with easy-to-follow arrows on the monitor. It also has a warning system that alerts the driver of pedestrians and animals in the car’s path and will automatically brake if they are too close. Additionally, Driver Assist can sync with a wristband that monitors drivers’ heart rates. For example, if a driver has a heart attack behind the wheel, the car will safely pull itself over and call emergency services. All this technology is still being developed, but it should launch within the next five years.
Follow me on Twitter @anicole_dee to check out some of the other fun finds and interesting facts I learned from talks with industry experts at CES. Also be on the lookout in April for our online special report on consumer electronics.