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Silent Beacon makes safety and security more affordable @ CES 2020 (PLUGHITZ Live Presents)

It's no secret that America is aging, and technology is mostly leaving them behind. However, some companies are looking out for our aging population. One of the companies working to make life safer for older people is Silent Beacon.

The concept is fairly simple. It's a panic button for those times when you can't easily make a call. I think we're all familiar with the concept from what might be the world best known commercial - "I've fallen and I can't get up." Silent Beacon sets itself apart from its competitors, like Life Alert, by dealing with the most limiting factor: price. While many of the services charge a monthly service fee, Silent Beacon does not. They accomplish this by not having their own monitoring center. Instead, the system calls the important numbers in your life.

For example, let's say you're in the shower and you fall. I don't keep my phone anywhere near the shower because it's an expensive device. But, I can hit the Silent Beacon button. What it does is it either calls or texts the numbers I have pre-determined. As part of the message, it also sends your location information. This can be especially important if the number being called is 911 (not all areas let you auto-dial 911).

The big difference here is that it is your numbers being contacted in an emergency situation, rather than calling a stranger in a call center. The people in your life, or the direct connection to local emergency services, means there is no middle man and no need for those monthly charges. This makes the product approachable for a wider range of customers, giving peace of mind to both the wearer and their support circle.

You can get the Silent Beacon for $99 from the company or from Amazon. For more information, check out the Silent Beacon website.

Interview by [tpnmarloanderson" class="UpStreamLink">.

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ohsnap is the mobile phone holder that doesn't stick @ CES 2020 (PLUGHITZ Live Presents)

As phones have gotten bigger, the desire for a device to make holding your phones easier has become a common one. One product has stormed the industry, but it leaves a lot to be desired. To address the limitations of the PopSocket, the team at ohsnap has created a new phone holder that is versatile enough for everyone.

If you have ever had a PopSocket on your phone, you know that you immediately lose the ability to use wireless chargers. For those of us who use them in our homes, offices, and cars, that is an unacceptable loss. With the ohsnap phone grip, though, that is no longer a problem. The main portion of the holder is removable, making it small enough to work with most, if not all, Qi plates.

As far as standard operation, the ohsnap holder is far more pleasant while in use and while collapsed. While closed, the ohsnap is about a third the depth of a PopSocket. That makes it far easier to keep in a pocket, especially if you keep it in your back pocket. When in use, it is also far better. The outsides come together to create a ring, which can be put around your finger. This usage is far more comfortable than wrapping your fingers around a big circle. The ring can be closed so that it won't fall off. The center iece is also rotatable, making it useful in portrait and landscape mode.

When not using it as a standard holder, you can also use the ohsnap with the included magnetic plate. The plate has micro suction cups on the back, so it can stick to just about any smooth surface. The phone holder then connects magnetically to the plate so it can be used just about anywhere. If you have another magnetic surface, such as your refrigerator or microwave, you can also stick it directly to that.

The ohsnap is available now for $19 with additional accessories available as well. For more information on the products or to order one for yourself, check out their website.

Interview by [livescottertz" class="UpStreamLink"> and [tpnchrisjordan" class="UpStreamLink">.

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Mindtech Global takes the hassle and bias out of AI training @ CES 2020 (PLUGHITZ Live Presents)

Anyone who has done any work with artificial intelligence can tell you that collecting enough data to train the AI can be as difficult as building the neural networks themselves. There are some decent libraries for standard data sets but say you needed to train an AI to identify a particular model of a product category. Finding the right images to train the system could be near impossible. To help solve this problem is Mindtech Global.

The company specializes in creating synthetic training data to help take an artificial intelligence system from concept to knowledgable. There are all sorts of scenarios where real-world data is not possible. Take, for example, drone data. An airport isn't going to allow an AI creator to fly a drone in their airspace to train what a good or bad drone might look like. By using synthetic data from Mindtech Global, you can still train your system without the need to inconvenience the airport.

In addition to difficult or impossible scenarios, there is also a bias in training data. When Project Natal, which became Xbox Kinect, was first demonstrated in 2009, it was done entirely with light-skinned people on stage. This is because the detection algorithms were not able to detect people with darker skin tones. Artificial intelligence systems face similar bias issues because of their training data. Humans tend to teach based on our experiences, which drives an AI to miss things. With the synthetic datasets, we eliminate humanity's tendency towards unconscious bias.

Currently, a lot of the bias is detected and solved by humans. For example, if a data scientist notices that systems have issues detecting people wearing backpacks, they will ensure that the dataset will include more images of people wearing backpacks. That means that future training sessions will have improved identification of people with backpacks.

To learn more about the Mindtech Global technology or engage their services, check out their website.

Interview by [livescottertz" class="UpStreamLink"> and [tpnchrisjordan" class="UpStreamLink">.

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Octobo is a learning plush toy to make learning fun @ CES 2020 (PLUGHITZ Live Presents)

Current studies all point to the importance of play for the development of a child's brain, especially early in life. Interacting with physical things, like toys and stuffed animals, can also have a profound effect on childhood development. But children want to interact with the things their older siblings and family members have - screens. Octobo by Thinker-Tinker allows these kids to have the best of both worlds.

Octobo is a large stuffed animal with a cutout in its face for both an eye and a mouth. By placing an iPad, Fire tablet, or Android tablet into Octobo, the character turns from a standard stuffed animal into one that can be interacted with in many ways. The first and most obvious is the ability for Octobo to respond to interaction with appropriate emotions. This is done through sensors throughout the body which allows for live feedback to touch.

Another great feature is the ability for interactive storytelling. We all remember how much fun choose your own adventure books were when we were older. Unfortunately, that kind of interaction used to require being able to read. However, with Octobo, kids who are pre-reading ability can still interact with a story without being able to read. This is accomplished through an RFID reader built into the base of the stuffed animal and plush RFID chips. By placing the chips on the reader, the child is able to interact and adjust a story from a growing library of storybooks and other content.

Octobo is intended to learn and grow with the child, making it a long-term purchase for parents and a long-term friend for kids. You can purchase a standard Octobo for $149 and the advanced pack for $199 directly from Thinker-Tinker, or get the advanced pack on Amazon for $179. For more information on Octobo or to purchase, check out the company's website.

Interview by [tpnmarloanderson" class="UpStreamLink">.

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RoomMe creates a personalized smarthome for everyone @ CES 2020 (PLUGHITZ Live Presents)

Two decades ago, Bill Gates surprised the world with the incredible technology built into his home in Seattle. One of the most interesting aspects of the house was the ability of rooms to change and adjust to the people in the room. For example, digital artwork on screens throughout the home would change based on who was there, with Gates himself overriding anyone else. The technology was so impressive that it was used as a plot-point in the movie Antitrust. Now, RoomMe by Intellithings is bringing this concept into modern technology.

Gates' home required people to wear special lapel pins that would be sensed by readers throughout the building. Today, most people actually carry these devices with them all the time, built into their smartphones. This means that, with the RoomMe sensor, a smarthome setup can detect people in a room without motion sensors. This is an important step for several reasons.

The most important benefit is known to anyone who has ever been around a motion-sensing light - its tendency to turn off. If you are still for too long, perhaps working at a computer, a motion sensor will think you're not there anymore. But, if you are using a RoomMe instead, it is able to detect that your phone is in the room and can make more appropriate decisions.

The second, and most powerful feature, is the ability to make decisions based on WHO is in the room, not just that ANYONE is there. For example, maybe Marlo likes the lights to be at 50% brightness in the control room when he's working, but Michele prefers 90% brightness. By detecting which of the two is in the control room, RoomMe can dim or raise the lights to the correct level, and turn them off when they leave.

The platform currently works with a large collection of partners, including Philips Hue, Insteon, HomeKit, and more, and are available for $69. To find out more about RoomMe, check out the Intellithings website.

Interview by [tpnmarloanderson" class="UpStreamLink">.

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LiBEST's flexible battery could power next-gen wearables @ CES 2020 (PLUGHITZ Live Presents)

When dealing with small electronics, especially wearable technology, one of the biggest limiting factors have consistently been battery technology. Watches and fitness bands are the size, shape, and weight that they are almost entirely because of the batteries that are included. Some companies have tried to distribute the batteries, with limited success. For example, Microsoft put half of the battery system in the clasp of the Microsoft Band, but that simply made it thick in two places. LiBEST has a new design that could change all of that.

This new battery technology is both thin and flexible, making it far more versatile for wearable devices. If this battery had been available for the Microsoft Band, the distributed battery could have been placed within the band itself, rather than in the clasp. That would mean that the clasp wouldn't have been so large, the screen could have stayed thin, and the battery life could have been as good, or better than it was in production.

In addition to wearable bands, there are other places where a flexible battery could be a benefit. Take, for example, a full-cup Bluetooth headset. By using the existing headband, which is usually empty, as housing for these LiBEST flexible batteries, you could add additional battery life to the product. Imagine not having to charge your headphones for an entire trip, as opposed to every couple of days.

The most exciting development that can come from LiBEST technology is in products that haven't been thought of before. Often, our minds limit themselves to the confines that we know of, such as the rigidity of batteries. By removing that limitation, a whole new generation of technologies could be created, such as completely flexible devices.

To find out more about the LiBEST flexible battery technology, check out the company's website.

Interview by [tpnmarloanderson" class="UpStreamLink">.

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LEYTON helps sustainable startups to exhibit their tech @ CES 2020 (PLUGHITZ Live Presents)

For some companies, the dream of attending CES can be completely outside the realm of possibilities. Maybe it's because of finances, the distance, or something else. Because of this, we have seen organizations across the globe run contests to help those companies get to and exhibit at CES. This year, one of those contests was the LEYTON Sustainable Start-up Challenge.

This program allowed five startups from around the world to exhibit in Eureka Park. To qualify, the companies had to originate in one of nine countries, and have a positive impact on sustainability. It must also fit into one of the official CES marketplaces, which are varied and numerous, offering 32 options. The company must also fit within the CES Eureka Park criteria. From the more than 200 entries, they then narrowed it down to the five winners.

One of the winners, GroPod, was in a growing category of startups that offer indoor vegetable grow cabinets. They often look like a standard appliance, usually fitting into a refrigerator gap in a kitchen. We have featured several over the years at CES and Collision. Another winner, RetroLabs, offers a camera that goes into your refrigerator to help identify and manage expiration dates on your food. This can help reduce food waste, as well as over-buying, as you can see the contents from the store.

Skriware sets itself apart as an educational platform that teaches through 3D printing and hands-on activities. For example, you can build and program a robot almost entirely with parts and pieces you print yourself. As robotics programs are growing in popularity in schools, this can help start that program. Wiseair allows you to test and determine the air quality of a home, including during the buying process. This is done through local sensors and wider air quality data. Finally, BeFC is a paper-based biofuel cell system that doesn't use traditional and expensive catalytic conversions.

To find out more about the LEYTON Sustainable Start-up Challenge, check out their website.

Interview by [tpnmarloanderson" class="UpStreamLink">.

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OrCam MyEye 2 brings independence to the visually impaired @ CES 2020 (PLUGHITZ Live Presents)

It should be no surprise that vision is an important part of modern society. For those with impaired, limited, or no vision, getting through the day can be incredibly difficult. From reading signs and menus to identifying other people in a room, the things most of us take for granted are often unavailable. With the help of the OrCam MyEye 2, some of those capabilities can be replicated.

The device is a small rectangle that attaches to a pair of glasses. Through the device, the wearer can get a lot of information about their surroundings. We got to see the device in action as it read aloud the text on a flyer in the studio. Of course, as with so many live demonstrations, it didn't work perfectly, but the CES environment is not normal life. However, what we saw was still impressive. The ability to control what is verbalized via voice controls makes it far easier to learn how to use it.

In addition to the ability to read text, the MyEye 2 can also identify faces. Once taught, the device can announce verbally when someone in your close circle is in the vicinity. Obviously, knowing who is in the room with you is an important part of socializing, and one that is often lost with visual impairment. Normally, it would require you to wait for them to introduce themselves as being there.

The best part of MyEye 2 is that it does not require an internet connection. Because all of the AI technology is built directly into the product, there is no need for an internet connection. This means that it will continue to work no matter where you are or whether or not you've got a viable cellular connection.

For more information about the OrCam MyEye 2, check out the company's website.

Interview by [tpnmarloanderson" class="UpStreamLink">.

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MicroEJ makes developing smart devices less expensive @ CES 2020 (PLUGHITZ Live Presents)

When it comes to connected devices, one of the more complicated aspects is deciding upon an integrated platform. We've seen Google promote that there are millions of smart devices on the market that run on Android, but Android has a large footprint that requires onboard storage and RAM, both of which add additional cost to the production of each device. A significantly smaller platform called MicroEJ gives hardware developers all of the features they need while limiting the memory needs significantly.

The goal of MicroEJ is to help companies bring smart features to devices, in categories from smartwatches to electric meters, printers to lighting, in a faster and less expensive process. They accomplish this in part with their software platform, which is 0.1% the size of Android, which means that the system requirements are lower than they would be if they were using Android on their devices. It also means that, with smaller processors, comes less electrical requirements.

Power efficiency can be the difference between a product being viable in certain marketplaces and being more of a hassle. With lower power requirements comes the ability to run for a longer period on a battery. For example, consider a GPS transceiver on a shipping container. There's the possibility that the container will be in the dark for an entire shipment, either on boat or train and cannot charge via solar. Better battery efficiency could mean that the tracking could last longer on a smaller battery.

In addition, the platform allows hardware developers to allow software developers to deploy additional apps with new capabilities to the devices. With this ability comes a branded app marketplace, similar to what we see on Windows, iOS, and Android. This makes for the ability to allow integrations that the manufacturer might never have thought of.

For more information about MicroEJ, check out their website.

Interview by [tpnmarloanderson" class="UpStreamLink">.

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Sure Feed Microchip Pet Feeder makes feeding time easy @ CES 2020 (PLUGHITZ Live Presents)

If you have ever had a pet, you know that most of them would eat 24/7 if given the opportunity. They are also known for stealing food from one another when they're not looking. Dogs get into the cat's food and vice versa. Even my dog suffers from food theft when at my parents' house during CES. Sure Petcare has a solution for some of these problems with the Sure Feed Microchip Pet Feeder.

How does the Microchip Pet Feeder work?

The Microchip Pet Feeder works by tracking your pet using the microchip that many pets already have. Once registered to the feeder, the device has the ability to track your pet's eating behaviors and help regulate those activities. The bowl stays covered until the pet crosses through the archway over the bowl. The feeder then determines whether or not this pet is allowed to have food.

There are several conditions that may apply to the availability of food for the pet. For example, you may only want them eating during a certain time of day. This could prevent your cat from throwing up in the living room in the middle of the night. Or, perhaps they are only allowed to eat a certain amount of food. By including a weight sensor under the bowl, the feeder can determine when they've had enough.

Who is the Microchip Pet Feeder for?

In addition to limiting your pet's eating habits, the Microchip Pet Feeder can still provide value. For example, if you have two pets, each can have their own feeding station locked to their unique microchip. This can prevent my mother's dog from eating my dog's food while he is staying there. It also means that they don't have to stay in different rooms while they eat.

It also gives the ability to track your pet's eating habits. When are they eating the most? How much do they eat each day? You can use that information to determine if something is wrong when they are eating too much or too little, or see if they are changing their habits as they age.

The Microchip Pet Feeder is available starting at $149, with the Microchip Pet Feeder Connect available for $180. For more information on the product line, check the Sure Petcare website.

Interview by [tpntoddcochrane" class="UpStreamLink">.

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