2019 - Consumer Electronics Show (CES) - Events

Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

2019

CES is the world's gathering place for all those who thrive on the business of consumer technologies. It has served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies for 50 years - the global stage where next-generation innovations are introduced to the marketplace. Owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), it attracts the world's business leaders and pioneering thinkers.

Show Episodes

January 6, 2019 - Episode 517 - CES 2019 Pre-Show

2019-01-06

This week, we're getting ready for CES 2019 with previews and expectations, plus some of our favorite stories from past shows.

Chef Carla Hall is cooking up something truly Yummly with Whirlpool

2019-01-17

Every year the house gets just a little smarter, and the kitchen is really starting to feel the love. Whirlpool and KitchenAid have been adding more connectivity to their appliances, with the ability to monitor and control items, including your oven and stove, remotely. One of the more interesting ways to interact with your appliances is through the Yummly app, an app designed to help you learn to cook, as well as automate certain aspects of the process, assuming you have the appropriate appliances.

Recently, Yummly has added Pros to the platform. This feature brings a talented chef into your kitchen with you to help guide you through a recipe of theirs. One of these new Yummly Pros is Chef Carla Hall, best known for her time on Top Chef. Chef Hall joined the platform because it affords her the ability to dive into recipes that she could never have done on television, such as bread or collard greens. While it may not make for great broadcast television, it does make for a great experience to follow along with and learn from an expert.

One of the most interesting aspects of the app is the integration with the appliances. Chef Hall talked to us about how, through the app, she could help home cooks get a better grip on more complicated cooking requirements. For example, if a recipe requires that you cook on high heat for 15 minutes, then on medium heat for 10, then return to high heat for the final 10 minutes, most home cooks will leave the oven on high for the entire time. While this may work, it won't be perfect. With the integration between the app and the oven, Chef Hall can help you pre-program the oven for the correct temperatures and durations without you having to work too hard.

Yummly is available now for iOS and Android, and Chef Hall can regularly be found on GMA and Food Network.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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ispace will spark all new curiosity for future space exploration

2019-01-17

Outer space is one incredible concept that we, as Earth-dwellers are eager to learn as much as we can about. We are all enamored by space exploration and evidence of the unknown future it could bring us. This year, the PLuGHiTz crew was excited to speak with the company, ispace Inc. that is on a mission to send a Lunar Lander to the moon in 2020 and 2021. The ispace technology is centered on micro-robotics that will propel them to the future.

ispace is a startup that began in 2010 and in the span of just 9 years, they have already planned their first two missions to space. The first will occur in mid-2020 that will orbit the moon while the second mission will involve landing on and roaming the lunar surface. These first few quests have a focus on recording 360 videos of the moon for a consumer virtual reality experience of the moon's surface, a once in a lifetime experience… for now.

With the vision of expanding our living sphere and creating a sustainable world, their main objective is to explore and develop the moon's water resources. This expedition will continue to break down the water into hydrogen and oxygen to produce fuel for more rockets and "accelerate the pace of space development." The idea of mining fuel on the moon provides multiple benefits. Not only does it allow us to travel farther past the lunar orbit, but we can also learn about producing specialized machinery just for space travel. The oxygen mined could also be used to help create breathable environments in space.

The unique VR experience will be a great first step into educating the public about what is to come and what to expect from ispace. To follow their journey and exploration, you can visit their website here.

Interview by Daniele Mendez of The New Product Launchpad.

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You'll love the versatility of these truly wireless earbuds from 1MORE

2019-01-20

Music is such a fundamental part of our lives. We have playlists for everything that we do. From parties to road trips to workouts, we bring along the tunes that create the perfect energy. With everything that music gets us to and through, it is imperative that we have the appropriate equipment with us. With so many brands out on the market these days, we need the features that enhance our lifestyles. We shouldn't settle for anything less than sleek and comfortable, with all the features that complement our mobile devices. And with 1MORE, you won't have to.

It was great to get a chance to catch up with the CEO of 1MORE, Frank Lin, this year at Showstoppers while we were in Las Vegas covering CES 2019. After receiving top honors for their headphones in 2018, the company was as determined as ever to keep the momentum going with the new additions to their line of earbuds. And this dedication paid off in a big way! Along with another Innovation award, they were also honored in 2019 as The Most Awarded Headphone Brand at CES for two years in a row. So how did they make this happen? Well, they knew that it was important to follow along with the cell phone developments from the last few years and wanted to create a really good set of wireless headphones. But not just wireless as Bluetooth connectivity alone is not enough. They wanted to join the ranks of the truly wireless. For those who aren't sure of the difference, with truly wireless, each earpiece independently syncs with the music source, as well as to each other. There are no cords or pieces in between.

The result is their new 1MORE Stylish True Wireless In-Ear Headphones. Features include a Titanium Composite Dynamic Driver for crystal clear sound in an ultra-compact design for enhanced efficiency, ENC Microphone Technology that allows for communication in loud environments, and an LDS Antenna for less signal interference and transmission with a smooth connection for both music and phone calls. They are also lightweight and include Perfected Ergonomics with 45-degree oblique-angled nozzles to more naturally match the curve of your ear canals for a tight, secure fit with a silicone O-Hook that provides a more stable fit when you are on the move. We also love how they charge with USB-C.

To learn more and check out their entire line of headphones, visit their website.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Step right in to this unique new take on virtual conferencing

2019-01-20

The video conferencing software that many consumers use on a daily basis does not actually fit most of their needs. Virtual communication is so very different from physical communication and those differences are difficult to accommodate. If you feel this way, you are in luck. Glowbl has a whole new take on how we should be communicating online by making those virtual interactions closer to real life.

Glowbl is a web/mobile based solution to bring more interactivity to virtual classrooms and conferences. In the education space, a typical classroom has a teacher that lectures to a room full of students. The teacher can walk through a slide show presentation, describe projects, and assign homework by displaying the information on a board visible by all students. Most virtual classrooms mimic this by using a screen share that has many disadvantages such as showing your personal desktop and files that may be visible during the share. Glowbl uses an upload system that takes less bandwidth, shows less of what is on your screen, and still has the advantage to share the content in real time for everyone to see.

Glowbl is as easy to use as walking into a classroom but in a virtual sense. All you need to do is launch the application and physically click and move through the "room" using your bubble. Before class starts, you can carry out conversations with your friends by moving your bubble next to theirs and only the bubbles in close proximity can hear your conversation. This technology is great for virtual teachers that assign group projects. Students can break out into groups by moving their bubble near their peers and the teacher can navigate through the room and talk to each team. You also have the ability to public and private message.

This application is currently being utilized in major universities in France but is looking to expand internationally. To find out more information about Glowbl you can visit their website here.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Reactions to CES 2019 - Episode 185

2019-01-20

This week, Avram Piltch discusses his reactions to CES 2019 and what he sees as the trends that can be expected as we head into 2019. The real winner of CES, and possibly of the entire year, is AMD. As the company expands its reach and enhances its product offerings, chief competitor Intel is struggling to keep up. Intel has had production issues and has not been able to keep up with demand, leading new consumers and manufacturers to explore AMD-powered products. Another big trend of CES was RGB-enhanced products, which will make the next version of the Tom's Hardware RG-Beast experience even better.

OBSBOT Tail is a small and powerful AI director in your camera bag

2019-01-29

When filming activity, one of the most difficult things to do is keep the people involved people in the frame. As people move around, keeping the camera trained on them is difficult enough, but moving it in a smooth manner is even more difficult. Luckily, OBSBOT is here to help with their Tail smart camera. The Tail is a surprisingly small camera, that has the ability to track people and keep them in the frame, while still packing full 4K video at 60 frames per second. This means that you can mount the camera in an appropriate position and, as the subjects move, so will the camera. Think of Tail as your own personal cinematographer.

This is accomplished with a motorized 3-axis gimbal, meaning that the camera isn't trying to crop a wider angle based on the position of the subject, which lessens the quality of the video and often creates a jittery pan. Instead, the physical movement of the lens means that you can keep the video quality and still maintain the subjects you're wanting to feature. That doesn't mean that there is no zoom capability. In fact, you can tell the Tail to follow a particular aspect of the frame, such as the subject's feet during a dance demonstration, and the Tail will only focus on the feet.

Interacting with the camera is also really easy. Rather than having to touch the camera itself, possibly shaking the video, you can take full control of it from a distance using your phone. From there you can decide your subjects and your framing, as well as taking over from the AI, holding a steady shot, rather than having the camera in motion.

The OBSBOT Tail is available now on Kickstarter through March 15, 2019, starting at about $489 USD.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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3dRudder frees up your hands to play VR games in a more natural way

2019-01-29

As the world of virtual reality gaming gets more sophisticated, so must the control systems that make the games possible. If you have played any VR games, you know that the current methods of controlling your position within the virtual world are both unnatural and self-defeating. Trying to use a standard controller to move around takes you out of the VR experience and reminds you that you are not actually experiencing those actions and activities.

Fortunately, the team at 3dRudder have created a paradigm that allows you to control your character's position with your feet. This means you can move without feeling like you are exerting an outside force on the game, but instead feeling like you are moving more naturally within the world being created for you. The product looks a little like a smaller BOSU ball, allowing you to place your feet on the platform and move in all directions simply by using your feet. Obviously, this is a far closer approximation to reality than using a controller, keeping you in the virtual reality.

While the 3dRudder has been available for PC for a while, the big addition this year was support for PlayStation VR. Combining the PlayStation Move controllers with the 3dRudder really brings gameplay far closer to reality. Being able to control your movement with your feet, while aiming and firing, punching,m etc., with the PlayStation Move wands is an incredibly accurate and realistic control system. And, by combining these two on the PlayStation, it really just makes the game more fun.

While there is obviously a lot of talk around using the 3dRudder with VR, there is no requirement that you use it within a virtual reality experience. In fact, you can use the 3dRudder with any game that accepts controller input. Now you can separate your hand controls from your foot controls on PC games, freeing you up to move around and fire quicker.

The PC and PlayStation versions of the 3dRudder hardware are available now on their website.

Interview by Daniele Mendez of The New Product Launchpad.

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You won't believe what you can see with DeepRay's advanced AI tech

2019-01-30

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) becomes more and more commonplace in our daily lives, there are those who aren't quite sure of the abilities of this technology in more advanced applications. Sure, it all sounds good, driverless cars and advances in medicine. But there are so many real-world distractions and distortions at play at any given time, how can any artificially created intelligence possibly understand and mitigate for them all? We had the opportunity to speak with Thomas Carmody, Head of Transports
 and Infrastructure for Cambridge Consultants, about their newest technology that will definitely help to get Artificial Intelligence to that next level of universal application.

Cambridge Consultants is a technology
 development organization that works on approximately 
400 technology projects per year with
 numerous customers. Here at CES 2019, they are showcasing DeepRay. This is a technology that their 
AI Engineers have developed
 and its purpose is to remove
 distortion from images. At first take, you might not realize the impact that this can have, but the potential uses are actually quite far-reaching. This ground-breaking Artificial Intelligence technology is able to create clear and undistorted views of the real-world from a damaged or obscured moving image. And it can do this in real time as it is able to cope with the variables of light and moving distortion. With the recent advances in deep learning, DeepRay has the power to see clearly in difficult, unpredictable situations could transform numerous machine vision and imaging applications, from autonomous driving to empowering healthcare professionals with more accurate medical imaging.

This breakthrough technology is more important now than ever and there are numerous applications for it. As you can imagine, in our near future, there are going to be a lot of robots all operating in multiple aspects of our lives. They will all rely on cameras which will encounter everything from dirt and weather to cracked and broken lenses and images. Deep Ray will allow them to make sense of the world around them for accuracy as well as safety.

Deep Ray is available for implementation right now and the company is looking for partners to 
help take it to the next level. They are also looking for customers who are looking for solutions to real-world problems in their industries. For more information, visit their website here.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Klipsch is the best choice for the sound quality you deserve

2019-01-30

One of the most innovative sound companies for speakers and headphones, Klipsch, has introduced an exciting new line of products. We spoke to Mark Casavant, who is the Senior Vice President for Global Brands and Business Development. The Klipsch company has been very well-known for exceptionally high-quality sound for your music, videos, and television.

They are the first to have a complete WiSA system for high performance, which they demonstrated at CES in partnership with LG. WiSA allows you to have a full surround sound system without the need for a receiver, as the television has that technology built-in. Klipsch has always been keenly aware of what the consumer is looking for and has always strived for excellent results. Their soundbars and wireless earbuds are far superior to others on the market because they feel that if you are going to listen to music, then you should always get the best quality available.

One feature of their wireless earbuds that sets them apart and shows off the company's dedication to detail is the carrying case. Like many true wireless earbuds, the case acts as a charger for the earbuds. But, in Klipsch's case, the case is also made of a high-quality metal that is very reminiscent of the Zippo lighter. Also, like all Klipsch earbuds, the fit of the earpieces is among the best available.

There are many reasons that Klipsch is set apart from the others. Paul Klipsch was considered a founding father in the Hi-Fi industry. He did much research before he even produced his first speaker. He was able to identify all kinds of distortion that had previously been ignored by the audio industry, such as harmonic and modulation. The design philosophy of Klipsch is the relationship between efficiency and distortion and their approach to the electromechanical design of the transducers. The more efficient the product design, the less distortion exists. Minimizing the distortion to the way we hear music will result in a powerful dynamic range that is unlimited because it is so clear and crisp even at a very low volume, which is the reason people buy sound bars as TVs have small speakers. While he Tractrix horns may be one of the defining features of Klipsch speakers, it is a means to an end. It is the lack of distortion produced by these horns that really brings the sound to life.

One of the things Mark emphasized was that the Klipsch company is very attuned to the consumers' comfort and satisfaction. They aren't concerned with the convenience at the expense of quality. They want the consumer to be able to get a level of performance that defies the price point and goes up against prices that are double, but yet they aren't the lowest either.

Mark told us that there isn't a specific release date because they will be released throughout the year. For much more info you can go to their website.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Cleer has a wide range of speaker and headphone options for everyone

2019-01-31

The show floor at CES has certainly gotten crowded with quality audio products. As more companies up their game in sound quality, the individual products have to differentiate themselves in new and interesting ways. One of the companies that exemplifies that need is Cleer, who has a whole line of products that certainly stand out from the crowd.

The most distinctive product in their lineup is the Mirage, an Alexa-powered smart speaker. What really sets this speaker apart is that it features a flexible AMOLED screen that wraps around the cylindrical body. On the screen, you can play all sorts of content, including music videos, as demonstrated in the video. In addition to the Alexa control, you can also interact with it using the ring around the top. The bottom of the speaker features an ambient light source, making it a multifunctional device. This speaker is so unique that it was a CES 2019 Innovation Award Honoree.

Not to be left alone, the Mirage has a sibling: Connect, another speaker featuring a screen. Unlike the Mirage, however, the Connect has a traditional screen across its front. Connect's screen is adjustable, meaning that you can put it on your bedside table, or any other surface, and adjust the angle of the screen depending on what you are doing and where in the room you are. It also has a camera, so you could use it for video conferencing, making it a good accessory for your office, as well.

Adding to Cleer's speaker lineup is the Halo, a unique little pair of speakers designed to be worn around the neck. While they may look like headphones, they are definitely intended to have the option to share your music with the people around you. The speakers have magnets on the inside, allowing you to snap them together for easy storage and transportation.

Some of the products featured in the video are available now, while others will be made available throughout the year.

Interview by Daniele Mendez of The New Product Launchpad.

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Voyager can take you where you want to go in a fun, new style!

2019-01-31

In the last few years the skateboard, the scooter, and the bike have practically been totally transformed. These recreational products have come a long way since they were invented. We spoke to Lloyd Gladstone, head of Product Development for Voyager, who produce a number of products in this area. For example, the company makes a line of electric skateboards, branded Tony Hawk model and Voyager. They have a 6-mile range on a charge and can go 12.5 mph. Price points range from $149-$199.

The focal point of the product line, however, if their line of electric scooters and bicycles. All of these products feature a Qi-enabled phone holder, as well as Bluetooth controls, allowing you to interact with the device's controls and GPS without ever taking your eyes off of the road. These features not only add smart capabilities but also make the products smarter. The Voyager line offers a number of scooter options ranging from $299 to $499.

One of the more interesting features of the bicycles we saw was a hidden motor. Rather than looking like a regular electric bicycle, this model had the motor hidden in the wheel and the battery hidden in the frame. Another model offered the ability to remove the battery, allowing you to have more than one, so you can charge one while you use another. Both of these models can run for around 30 miles on a charge up to 20 mph.

In addition, he showed us several really interesting hoverboards. One, in particular, is called the Glowboard, which is lighted and makes it safer at night and also has a color-changing feature. The other one has a strobe effect and lights up your path and also flashes strobe lighting. Extending the hoverboard idea is the Space Shoes. These are somewhere between a hoverboard and roller skates. The ride is more challenging than a traditional hoverboard, but once you get the hang of it, you can do some pretty cool tricks. All of these products feature gyroscopic stabilization, making it easier for you to stay standing up.

These products will probably be available in the summer of 2019. For more information, check out their website.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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This sweet and cuddly little robot might just melt your heart

2019-02-03

Are you thinking about how you really want a new puppy, but don't want to worry about housebreaking. Or maybe a cute little kitty, but there's no good place to put the litter box? And those baby goats that are all over your social media feed doing yoga certainly are cute, but oh wait, they might eat the couch. Wouldn't it be great to have a cute little pet without all of the hassles?

Well, we stumbled upon a new robot while at CES Unveiled 2019. This really wasn't anything unusual for us. In the last several years, it has become quite common to be introduced to various bots that provide everything from home surveillance to learning and game programs for the kids. And to be honest, when we first encountered these new little guys, we actually smiled and walked on by. But after seeing them rolling around the show floor and interacting with the crowds at the booth, we soon realized that there was something a little different with them, and we went back to take a closer look.

And lucky for us, we did cause we got to meet LOVOT, a new home robot by the Japanese company GROOVE X that is designed to be as sweet and fun to have around as a pet. Now, admittedly, on the surface, it kind of seems unlikely that this kind of droid could capture our hearts and become part of the family, as a pet would. But I have to say that the longer we were around LOVOT, the more we fell in love. The realistic shape of his eyes enables him to easily display emotion and the way he interacts with the environment around him is quite endearing. When he rolled up with that sweet look and held up his flippers, indicating that he wanted to be picked up, I have to admit that I instantly wanted one.

The company's goal was simple, to create a robot that makes people happy. And as we can attest, when you interact with it via touch, embrace, even simply watching it, you'll find yourself smiling, relaxing, feeling better. This is because they used technology that was not meant to improve convenience or efficiency but to enhance levels of comfort and feelings of love. LOVOT accomplishes this by reacting to your mood, learning, and bonding with you over time and recognizing different individuals for separate interactions. Plus, they are capable of interacting with each other, like pets do, when there is more than one in the household. Also, they are soft and warm and, as the product line develops, will have fun accessories and wardrobes to go with any personality.

LOVOT is currently available for pre-sale in Japan. A launch date has not yet been announced for the US, but the anticipated price will be approximately $3,000. To learn more, make sure to visit both the Lovot and the GROOVE X websites.

Interview by Daniele Mendez of The New Product Launchpad.

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Altec Lansing makes listening to your music in style a breeze

2019-02-03

While a lot of audio companies are producing headphones that sound good, very few combine great audio with the ability to express your style. Altec Lansing, however, produces products with just that combination. Whatever your style and plan of use, Altec Lansing has a headphone for you.

Likely the most unique product in the line is the Glow Run earbuds. These earbuds are designed for use when running and feature an illuminated wire. Obviously, one purpose for the illumination is for fun and style, as the earbuds come in a variety of colors. However, there is a safety feature included, since running outside at night gets a lot safer when you have a light on your body. It's pretty common for runners to carry a light on their waist, but with the Glow Run, you've got it all in your earbuds. The Glow Runs will retail for $49.

Another popular product in headphones this year is True Wireless, and Altec Lansing has enhanced their EVO line of earbuds to feature several models. The standard EVO model runs $59 and features 5 hours of playtime and 3 additional charges through the case. The EVO+ model runs $99 and adds Qi charging to the case and an additional full charge and comes with a Qi charging pad. The EVO Sport runs $119 and extends the playtime of the earbuds to 6 hours and offers 5 full charges in the case. The EVO ANC runs $149 and adds active noise cancelation to the mix, which is perfect when you're in a position with a lot of background noise, such as on an airplane.

In addition, there is the more standard line of headphones, all of which feature Altec Lansing's great sound quality and variety of colors, styles, and materials to make the headphone experience your own. You can see their full lineup on their website.

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Velco brings fantastic navigation systems right to your bicycle

2019-02-04

We've all seen numerous TV shows and news reports that show how much congestion there is in big cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The standstill traffic seems endless. A lot of us cannot even imagine being in those situations in a taxi, let alone maneuvering our own cars around in them. Many people who live in large cities like these throughout the world keep their daily living circles tight, with home, work, groceries and bars/restaurants within walking distance. Bicycling is also a very popular mode of transportation in these urban settings. Not only does it provide exercise and health benefits, but also allows for an extension of their usual walking radius.

Velco is a French tech company that has the simple, yet earnest vision to create an environment for smarter and more personalized urban mobility. They have a true understanding of the real issues in the various urban mobility markets as they are surrounded by cycling organizations and businesses. As delivery companies, bike sharing services, tour operators and even police forces utilize bicycles more and more in their daily operations, they need to have many of the same, easy to use modern conveniences that we do in our vehicles. As a result, they are designing and marketing connected solutions for mobility professionals all over the world.

We stopped into the Velco booth at CES Unveiled 2019 to get a closer look. CEO, Pierre Regnier showed us a couple of their new products. First off is a navigation device called Tom-E. It offers a unique, intuitive and universal navigation system that is based on light signals. This system basically revolutionizes the daily commute on your bicycle or really any preferred means of transportation. It is simple and compact. Just enter your destination, lock your phone, tuck it away and let yourself be guided.

Also being showcased was the Wink Bar, a connected handlebar that will absolutely revolutionize daily cycling. This smart handlebar can be installed on any bike and connects through your smartphone. It enables riders to now enjoy intuitive GPS navigation while en route. Features include Track & Trace anti-theft as well as powerful integrated headlights.

These innovative new products bring familiar conveniences to our bike riding experience, whether for work or leisure. Riders are able to utilize them while maintaining safety. Prices start at $79.00 for the Tom-E and $279 for the Wink Bar. To find out more about the company and their product line, visit their website.

Interview by Daniele Mendez of The New Product Launchpad.

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Keep the party going with these kickin' speakers from Altec Lansing

2019-02-12

When we're making our rounds throughout CES every year, there are a few familiar stops that we really look forward to visiting. Altec Lansing happens to be one of them. And, as always, we thoroughly enjoyed taking a tour of their latest and greatest.

Up first were the new Rock Box XL speakers. These fun, waterproof speakers are certainly ready to party. With an IP67 waterproof rating, you can just toss it in the pool and it'll float up with great sound. And what's really cool is that they come equipped with LED lights that not only look great as they light up the pool, but they also illuminate to the beat of the music. To top it all off, consistent with the rest of Altec Lansing's Bluetooth speaker line, you are able to connect up to 50 other speakers in line with each other. So you'll be able to turn your home into a true party house with connected speakers in the pool, on the deck, in the yard, house and anywhere you need the tunes to flow. Can you imagine a neighborhood block party with these babies? We sure can. You can start planning your festivities now, with the release date of these expected in the 2nd to 3rd quarter of 2019 at the amazing price of $49 each.

Another cool new product being featured this year is the Action Cam Speaker. It's a Bluetooth speaker that has an action cam built right in. So you'll be able to take 360-degree video while listening to your favorite playlists. Why on earth would anyone need this type of product combination? Well, it's also waterproof, allowing it to be mounted on a kayak so you can capture all of the amazing views that you encounter while also listening to your music. It can also be great at a party to catch all of the action, or on a bicycle. The possibilities are plentiful. You can expect these out in the 3rd or 4th quarter this year at a price point of $199.99.

There are a lot of speakers in the complete line with a full range of great features. Prices start at just $29.99 and go up to $299. You'll surely find something that you will love, so make sure to check out their website to pick out your favorites.

Interview by Daniele Mendez of The New Product Launchpad.

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DS Services brings IoT to their clean, delicious drinking water

2019-02-12

This year at CES 2019, our PLuGHiTz Live crew was on a mission to find unusual and impressive new IoT products. Although we had a feeling that we would find a few silly products that really had no business being internet connected. But we were quite happy when we were able to find some new and useful IoT adaptations, as well.

DS Services was one of the companies that made this list. For many years, they have prided themselves on delivering safe, great-tasting bottled drinking water to homes and offices across the U.S. They also offer their own brewed coffee beverages and office break-room supplies. And, under the Relyant brand, they offer drinking water filtration systems, equipment and services. Here at CES this year, they are showcasing a new technology that is being added to their reverse osmosis water filtration systems.

These new systems offer some great new features that not only provide excellent service for their customers, but also give the company and its technicians the information needed to keep everything functioning properly, at the highest efficiently possible. Provided are a multitude of data that allows each unit to communicate the parameters of the system to the customer, as well as to the technicians. It measures things like the performance of the membrane and the cold and hot water usage. This information can let them know about things like heavy runs or even compressor issues. All of which allows the company to be more proactive, which in turn can provide cost savings for the customers.

The system can also measure how many gallons are going through the system for timely filter changes. Prior to this, the industry standard has been going out to change the filter every 12 months, whether the customer has used the current one to capacity or not. These new units will instead warn the company that a new filter is needed, whether it's been 3 months or 16, depending upon exact usage. There is also leak detection monitoring built right in. So, in many cases, they will know of a problem with your system before you do and already have a technician dispatched out to get it resolved.

These units operate by sending all data over a cellular network, so there is no concern with any tampering with your personal wireless network. Users have access to their data via a dashboard in their mobile app. DS Services is expecting to launch this new model in April 2019 and they feel it will be a real game changer in the industry. You can find out more by visiting their website here.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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The fantastic way this French company brings IoT to retail shopping

2019-02-13

Nobody thinks a whole lot about the price tags at retail stores. Well, that is until you come across one that is priced incorrectly or is missing all together. On the flip side, it gets to be a lot when you are the store sales associate who has to keep up with changing prices. It's a never ending battle. At least once every week, when there is a promotion, they have to switch out the sales prices with the regular ones, and then price the new sales items for the next promotion. It's a time consuming process that usually ends up being quite imperfect.

French company, SES-imagotag, has an easy and unique solution for exactly these situations, with a lot of other nice perks built right in. And this concept, which seems so simplistic that it really doesn't need any discussion about it, is actually quite interesting in that it has so many practical uses for both the retailer and the consumer. For starters, retailers will have a central command center where they can set and make all pricing and product adjustments automatically. For smaller retail shops, this command center would be right there in their back offices. For larger retailers, it could even be located at a nationwide headquarters. Similar to large chains who currently, say, have all of the same music playing in each store, that is controlled remotely. They would also be able to ensure that their pricing integrity is always on point. No more mistakes at the individual contributor employee level for missing a sales price or not removing one after the sales is over, creating embarrassment and pricing exceptions if a shopper finds it first.

But accurate pricing is not the only feature of these sleek little gizmos. Maybe even more importantly, they can each be customized to fit with store and product strategies. Not only can SKU numbers and product names be added, but also logos, QR Codes and NFC Chips can be included. This gives the shopper a huge advantage while deciding upon a product. Imagine being able to instantly connect to the product's internet home page right on your smart phone to get additional information and compare prices. It gives more power for smart buying decisions without needing to search for a sales person who may or may not have all of that information that you need.

While this type of electronic product tagging system is beginning to hit the ground in France, the model that we encountered at CES 2019 is still in the prototype stage. It is getting closer to being brought to market and they hope to introduce it in U.S. markets in the near future. For more information, please visit their website.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Intel shows off what the future of Wi-Fi 6 means for VR and gaming

2019-02-13

If there was any single technology that we absolutely rely on in our homes, it would be Wi-Fi. We all have a lot of devices that connect to our Wi-Fi networks, with laptops, tablets, and phones being the most common. But, today we've got so much more dependent on our in-home networks, like smart speakers, thermostats, and more.

Even with all of these changes in the way we use Wi-Fi, the biggest complication in Wi-Fi is the addition of high-use devices, such as virtual reality and augmented reality hardware. Standalone hardware like this, which gets its video feed over the network as opposed to being plugged in directly to a computer move a tremendous amount of data over the network. By using this hardware, you can stress your network to the point where other devices, including the computer pushing the video, can experience massive lag.

Fortunately, the next generation of Wi-Fi is almost here. With the reveal of this new technology, running on the 802.11ax standard, we get a much needed new naming convention. Rather than being known by their technological standard, as they always have, the new standard will be generational. The new generation will be known as Wi-Fi 6, with 802.11n becoming Wi-Fi 4 and 802.11ac becoming Wi-Fi 5. The biggest change in Wi-Fi 6 will be a huge increase in stability when stressed.

As evidence, Intel gave us a demo of their Wi-Fi 6 prototype hardware powering a complete virtual reality setup. That included the laptop that was rendering the video and the headset that was controlling it. Having gotten to experience the VR myself, I can confirm that there was never a moment of lag. The video was smooth from start to finish, and all of the controls were responsive. Based on this experience, Wi-Fi 6 is going to be a huge improvement for VR, but also for standard gaming, streaming and more.

Intel expects PCs and routers to begin shipping with Wi-Fi 6 in the first half of 2019.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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The Wireless Power Consortium is making the kitchen easier to use

2019-02-14

Every year, we take the opportunity to speak with the Wireless Power Consortium to see what is happening with Qi. This year, however, we had a pleasant surprise: the standard that we have been excited about for years was finally close to ready for the market. This new standard is similar to Qi in that is delivers electricity wirelessly and through surfaces, but it has one major difference: the amount of power it can deliver.

This new standard, which has yet to be named, takes the 15 watts that Qi produces and enhances it to 2,200 watts. If that sounds like a huge upgrade, that's because it is. The enhancement is essential, as the new technology has a totally different intention. Rather than charging phones and other small electronics, the new standard is designed to provide power for kitchen appliances, which can require a lot of power.

One of the biggest benefits of the new standard is the ability to recover counter space in your kitchen. Imagine not having to have a dedicated stovetop, and getting to have that as additional counter space. Instead, you can simply place your inductive pan somewhere on your counter, turn it on, and start to cook. When done, you can pick up the pan and place a cutting board and cut vegetables without fear. That is because there is no residual heat on the surface itself.

While this would be great in just about any kitchen, it is especially useful for people with small kitchens. If you live in a small apartment, or just have a small kitchen, you know that counter space is a premium. Being able to recover that much counter space, and to turn some or all of the surface into a multi-purpose, powered counter, the possibilities are nearly endless.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Phyn can bring peace of mind to homeowners by detecting water leaks

2019-02-14

One of the biggest fears for any homeowner is a water leak. In the best case scenario, it can cost extra money every month on a water bill because of a very small leak. Worst case scenario, it can damage floors, walls, ceilings, and even foundations, meaning expensive home repairs on top of expensive plumbing repairs. Coming to the rescue of homeowners everywhere is a solution from an unlikely source.

Phyn is a smart water meter from parent company Belkin that can help identify and stop leaks before they cause any real damage. Using only a single device on the main incoming water line, Phyn is able to detect when standard water events occur, such as flushing a toilet and taking a shower. It is then able to determine when an unusual water event happens, whether it be something as small as a toilet running too long or a broken line because of pipe temperature.

Once Phyn detects a problem, it can act in a variety of different ways. The device can act entirely passively, sending a notification to your smartphone letting you know what it is that the device has discovered. From there, you can make a decision on how to proceed, either shutting off the water or looking into the problem further, yourself or with a plumber. It can also act on its own, shutting the water off entirely to prevent any further damage.

Luckily, the setup for Phyn is fairly simple, and the device even features an LED panel across the front to give feedback. During the setup process, it lets you know what state the device is in. During usage, the screen shows water flow intensity so that you can see how much water is flowing through the Phyn. Once you've configured Phyn, the device does all of the work itself, allowing you to no longer fear water damage at home.

Phyn is available now for $850.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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ThirdEye brings the power of mixed reality to a lightweight headset

2019-02-15

The last couple of years have brought a lot of interest back to virtual reality and augmented reality. In the AR world, while Microsoft's HoloLens might be the best-known brand, there are a lot of companies bringing a lot of major innovation to their own AR headsets. One such company is ThirdEye, who is bringing their second generation AR headset, the X2, to market in the near future. This headset is the smallest mixed reality headset available, weighing in at only 6 ounces (as opposed to the HoloLens, which comes in at 20 ounces, or 1.28 pounds). All of this is accomplished while not being required to be tethered to a computer or any external computing device.

The weight isn't the only feature that sets the X2 apart from its competition. One of the biggest problems with augmented reality and mixed reality hardware is the field of vision. Essentially, that means that the hardware itself block a large portion of your peripheral vision or that the viewable area of the screen is only a very small portion of the overall viewable area. The X2 has taken this problem to task and created a 42-degree field of vision. For reference, this is the equivalent of a 90" television in your living room.

Obviously, none of this has any value if there is no software available for the platform. To address this concern, the X2 runs on Android 8, meaning that anyone who can develop applications for Android can develop for this mixed reality headset. To aid in that endeavor, ThirdEye has the VisionEye SLAM SDK, which provides the ability to track position with six degrees of freedom, allowing for high precision.

The X2 is currently not available but can be preordered with delivery planned for later in 2019. The preorder price for the hardware is $1,950.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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YubiKey adds 2FA to your online accounts without all of the hassle

2019-02-15

If any single topic should be a focus for 2019, it should be online security. At least once per week, if not more frequently, there are reports of a platform being hacked or data being stolen. More often than not, the data that is stolen is user credentials: username, email, and password. Because we all use so many different services, it is fairly common practice to use the same password for some, many, or all services being used. Because of that, a single breach can compromise every system that you use.

These breaches have certainly brought about the importance of 2-factor authentication, more commonly referred to as 2FA. The common way of dealing with 2FA is either by receiving a number via text or through one of the authenticator apps. The good news is that there is a better way to protect your account. The YubiKey by Yubico is a physical 2FA device that secures your accounts with biometrics. Rather than having to get a text message to a phone that you have to then type into another service, all you have to do is touch the little device and you're done.

In addition to 2FA, the YubiKey can also be used as a primary authentication method. For example, Microsoft supports the concept of a biometric login, allowing you to not have to use your email address and password at all to log in to your Office 365 account, OneDrive, or even your email. Simply touch your finger to the YubiKey and you're logged in.

There is a range of keys available, depending on how you are planning on using it. From a standard USB-C key to a low-profile key, and even one designed for NFC, allowing you to use it with Android, there is a YubiKey to protect your accounts.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Onelink brings new and innovative features to your smoke alarm

2019-02-18

When you are not at home, whether it be for the day or an extended period of time, an area of serious concern is the possibility of a fire in your home. The Onelink by First Alert is a new and innovative alert system for smoke and carbon monoxide detection.

This new model has all the features you would expect from traditional smoke detectors. As well as having a very sleek and modern look to it, a really positive feature is the fact that you no longer have to go through the hassle of trying to change a 9-volt battery every time you change your clocks. The Onelink uses a 10-year sealed battery so that it will last as long as the detector does. When it is time to replace the detector or install your first one, the process is made easy by using a standard hardwire connection.

The device also features the Alexa voice assistant. On the surface that may sound like a crazy idea but it is not. Rather than having to place an Amazon Echo in each room, you get to take advantage of a device that you are already legally required to have in there. So now you are able to control your Philips Hue light bulbs, your Nest thermostat, or any of the thousands of other Alexa-capable smart home devices from your Onelink.

The truly defining feature of the new Onelink is the integration of Wi-Fi mesh. By including this technology, once again you are taking advantage of devices you already have in your home for a new purpose: improving your WI-Fi reception. The mesh means that the alarms will communicate with each other and act as repeaters throughout your home. Now no matter where you are in your house or apartment you can have a strong and reliable internet connection.

The current model of the Onelink Safe & Sound is available now for $249. The mesh model will be available later on in the year. For more information go to their website.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Here Comes the Bus brings added peace of mind for worrying parents

2019-02-18

Every parent that has a child that rides the bus to school has worried about their arriving at school safely and on time. Synovia Solutions has introduced Here Comes the Bus, a platform designed for having the capability for the parent and the school district to track the bus as it delivers their children safely to their destination. It is literally a morning de-stressor for parents!

This was designed primarily for fleet management for companies to manage their drivers' behavior, progress, and patterns. They have developed an app for the school districts all over the country to also be able to track the drivers of school buses as they transport the students to school and home again. They have 900 school districts that are involved! It offers an app for parents to also observe the same thing. Now they can watch the bus' activity and follow it on the route. They will see if it is delayed for any reason or stopped in an unexpected place.

It is built on GPS technology. This allows communication with a satellite which in turn communicates with the software and then relays the information to the parents. This also allows employees of the school districts to know if there are any problems with the buses. School administrators can then be alerted to a late bus. Maintenance will also know if a potential problem with any bus is occurring.

In addition to being able to track the bus, parents are able to find out if their children have gotten on or off the bus. This is accomplished by using a barcode scanner as they get on or off the bus. If the students have an ID that already has a barcode, it can be used for this purpose. If not, one can be provided for them.

Here Comes the Bus is available now for school districts that are interested. For more information go to their website.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Intel helps Resolve a big problem for animal preserves: poaching

2019-02-21

One of the things that Intel is known for is custom designing unique solutions for clients with unusual needs. One such organization that Intel has worked with is Resolve, a group partnering with the National Geographic Society and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation to prevent animal poaching. This nonprofit group installs cameras throughout habitats, in particular, elephant habitats, to track potential poachers and alert on potential dangers.

Before Intel's participation, Resolve had been installing standard cameras which would send alerts based on activity. These cameras used a fairly standard amount of power for a camera, but it did require that the batteries be charged or replaced on a regular basis. Unfortunately, this solution could only help to catch poachers after an incident had occurred. With Intel's help, Resolve has been able to begin implementing a new version of their TrailGuard cameras that solves both of these problems. The battery issue is solved by making the cameras passive, meaning that a charge can last up to a year and a half.

The biggest upgrade, however, comes in the inclusion of Intel's artificial intelligence technology. With the addition of the AI, combined with Movidius Vision Processing Units, Intel was able to predict a poaching event before it happens. This means that the technology can send alerts before an animal dies, giving Resolve the ability to intervene and save the life of the animal, not just identify and prosecute the poachers afterward.

All of this technology is made available in a device that is far smaller than the hardware used previously. In fact, the entire array, with the camera and AI onboard, is only about the size of a pencil. The size helps to make it easier to make the device covert, so it is harder for a poacher to detect and disable the device.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Powerful performance and superior picture quality in these TCL TVs

2019-02-21

CES is so much fun! There are seemingly endless venues and halls with everything from record players to autonomous vehicles. There's so much to take in, everywhere you look. For a truly unique experience, I have to say that walking through Central Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) is simply amazing. It is absolutely mesmerizing to see the grand displays of technology that encompass this most exciting hall of the show. Whether it's your first time through the hall or your hundredth, a true tech junkie can't help but almost feel giddy when surrounded by all of the lights, sounds, and displays.

Once some of the initial shock and awe start to settle in, it's always so nice to visit those friendly faces at the booths in which we have developed a relationship with over the years. One of these companies for us is, without a doubt, TCL. From their press conference that kicks off the week on Monday at Mandalay Bay, to their booth at LVCC, we thoroughly enjoy our experience with them, every single year. We were fortunate to meet up again this year with our friend, product evangelist, Bruce Walker.

While we were perusing through their array of television sets, Bruce spent some time with us to discuss some of the newer technology that will be coming out soon. As was a common theme with most of the larger television vendors here on the show floor, 8K technology is ramping up for what appears will be a huge explosion into the market and our media rooms. And it probably goes without saying that the demos on the floor were quite impressive. TCL is leading the way with bringing this new tech to us in a responsible manner. They are not trying to merely hit the market with these new sets, they want to make sure that their customers get the quality that they deserve from the number two retailer of television sets in the US in 2018. As we all know, just throwing together an 8K set is not enough because when they hit the retail stores, there will be extremely limited content actually available in 8K. That's why they are including an up-conversion technology that will be able to handle the existing, lower resolution content and give you the best picture possible.

Also coming up will be an enhancement to their Roku sets. Not only will they continue with this feature built right in, but it will be Smart Roku, connecting to other smart devices in the home and with voice recognition that will know your voice and interact with you conversationally with its four built in, directional microphones. It will be simple and easy to use. You'll have a hard time deciding if that is your favorite feature or the 33 million pixels that offer up to a 300% improvement in picture quality.

You can learn more about their existing line, and keep an eye out for these new releases, by visiting their website.

Interview by Daniele Mendez of The New Product Launchpad.

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