Sunday, February 1, 2015

CES ~ 2015




This year’s 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, CES, wrapped up as the largest show in its history. It started in 1967 as a spinoff of the Chicago Music Show was moved to New York City and had an attendance of 17,500 with over 100 exhibitors. Thru the years it’s had many venues with Las Vegas finally becoming its annual home. Attendance this year topped 170,000 industry professionals. CES featured 3600 exhibitors and occupied 2.2 million square feet of exhibition space. While the show consists of electronic products currently or soon to be available, it has also become the stage for gauging the viability of possible new gadgets and other varied diverse items unrelated to its original intent. 2015 was certainly no exception. Admittance is restricted and not open to the public.

Perhaps one of the most interesting gadgets announced was Intel’s Compute Stick that plugs into the HDMI port of your HD TV.

The stick instantly turns your TV into a system running Windows 8.1. It consists of a quad-core Atom Intel CPU, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of memory at a cost of $149 and is due out in March. The device supports wi-fi and Bluetooth thus making it possible to connect a keyboard and mouse. Options allow for up to 128GB of extra storage. A scaled down Linux version at $89 will also be introduced. Could an Apple OS be far off?

The BEAM, by suitable Technologies, is a $16,000 roving robot with a large screen that allows people in remote locations to interact with each other. 

You simply tap into the BEAM remotely and drive it around the office allowing you to be a part of what’s going on. The person’s face is shown on a large screen at eye level making its interaction more natural.

In recent years the automobile industry has used CES to test the interest in possible technologies that might become a part of the cars of tomorrow. This year was no exception with the showing of Mercedes F 014, autonomous driving vehicle, a car that provides a full visual entertainment system since the driver’s attention can be diverted to more interesting activities. 

It’s powered by electrical power generated by its twin fuel cells that convert hydrogen into electricity and water. GM, VW, Ford and others had a presence too. Apple’s CARPLAY was visible in several of the automobiles exhibited. It includes a voice command system along with other features like call alerts, messages and music.

LifeProof fre is a four-proof case for iPhone 6 designed to protect against water to 6.6 feet for one-hour. Since it’s totally enclosed it is protected from dirt and snow and meets military specs (810G-516.6) for shock and impact protection. It also doubles the iPhone battery life with its 2600mAh built-in battery. It’s available now at $79 with lots of optional accessories available too.

Some other products worthy of mention include: VSN MOBIL offering a 360° camera with no frame stitching or breaks at $399. NIXIE, a wearable wrist camera that easily adapts to becoming your personal drone. Looks like GOPRO now has some competition. Belty, is a self-adjusting smart belt that makes losing weight a snap since it automatically adjusts to the slightest change in your girth. Available later this year; EDYN, a garden monitoring tool that monitors the soil temperature and the soil’s fertility ambient temperature, humidity and light. Data is then uploaded to the Edyn app for the user; iGrow from Apira Science, a device that the company claims is the first FDA cleared wearable device for hair growth. It uses light at the right frequency, wavelength and power to stimulate hair growth; Mybiody Balance, developed by BBRC Aminogram, a French company, is a wearable wellness body measurement device. It attaches to your ankle and then sends vital statistics including body mass to your mobile device or laptop; Sony reintroduced the Walkman. It reproduces higher quality recordings, 60 hours of MP3 playback or 33 hours of hi res playback from a single charge. Available in Spring.

TVs have always been a highlight at the show. However, the emphasis appears now to be shifting by the manufacturers. They plan to boost the range of colors their sets can display. The consensus of opinion is that the amount of colors current televisions display is too limited and doesn’t fully achieve what viewers are seeing on film in the movie theater and in real life. We can expect improvements in this area as well as more 4K and 8K models coming to market. For the uninitiated, 4K, four times the detail, and 8K, 8 times the detail, are much higher definition sets, but are limited by programming being available in these formats. Yes, some programming does exist, but the cost by producers for upgrading production equipment to these standards becomes a catch 22. Amazon and Netflix do offer some 4K streaming. Samsung says that by 2017 every TV it sells will be Internet compliant and the term SMART TV will disappear. Other new features include Firefox OS voice-controlled TVs.

With 3600 exhibits it’s difficult to talk about them all. I’ve tried to pick some that are my top picks and hope you found them interesting as well.

Graphic credits: Mercedes Benz – Intel – CES

Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer, who may be contacted at, or followed at for the latest gadget industry news. He does not represent, make any legality of use claims, or endorse any of the products he reviews. His opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products at no cost for the articles and no other compensation is received. THE GADGETEER is highly selective as to products he feels worthy of review so as not to waste the reader’s time, thus the reason for many superior ratings. Some information for this article may be gathered from various news sources available to the author.

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