After walking the CES show floor on day one, and attending some private events, we're handpicked 8 cool products, both available soon and in concept/prototype form, that are worth a second look.
Sony Xperia Ear Open-Style Concept Earbuds
These "true wireless" earbuds have no wires at all, and sit neatly on your ear, with the hook loop positioned on the bottom part rather than over the top of your ear. This not only keeps it away from eyeglasses or sunglasses, if you're wearing those, but can also allow for a better fit. And it's surprisingly comfortable and secure. Audibly, you can hear the music crisp and clean, while distracting ambient sounds are cancelled out. However, you still have a level of situational awareness, and can comfortably hold conversations with others around you, hear announcements in an airport, or cars honking as you cross the street. Tap on the left side bud to control music playback, or even simply move your head on way or another. If a message from a connected smartphone comes through, the music volume is lowered so you can hear it, and reply accordingly. Currently designed in black or gold, the concept buds are a great addition to the rapidly growing "true wireless" earbuds category.
Place this long, rectangular pad under your mattress, and it will log data about your sleep patterns to help you gain better insights, and make changes if necessary. It triggers when you get in and out of the bed, and measures sleep stages, including deep sleep and REM, as well as your heart rate. It can even track snoring by measuring an audio signal from the low frequencies, and respiration rate. I'm sceptical as to how well this system works, particularly for measuring snoring. But if it can accurately paint a picture about how many instances of snoring you have per night, it could help someone recognize an issue that requires further attention. It also has some home automation integration through the including of IFTTT, so you can set it to trigger different connected devices based on your sleep patterns. For example, you could have it lower the temperature and the lights whenever you fall asleep and conversely, raise the temperature, open the blinds, and turn on the lights when you wake up. Set for availability this quarter, it will sell for about US$99.
This one fits firmly in the "what will they think of next" category. But as silly as it seems, it's a smartphone accessory solution that may just have a loyal following. It's a simple piece that affixes to any smartphone back or protective case, and houses a tiny pair of reading glasses folded up inside. Pull the glasses out, unfold them, place them over the bridge of your nose, and they stay firmly in place, helping users read something up close without having to pull out their eyeglasses. There's also a keychain version. It's a great back-up option, especially for those who require reading glasses, but are reluctant to wear them all the time. Grab one in a variety of funky designs or solid colours, and with your required prescription. The smartphone attachment is US$20 each, and the keychain US$25.
Live in a remote area, or travel often through areas where the cellular signal is spotty? This signal booster solution for the car helps boost the signal, and does not require any equipment outside of the vehicle. It can be mounted by suction to the back window, powered by coaxial cable, with the cradle positioned on the vent via the vent clip. Your phone magnetically connects to the mount, keeping it in full view for navigation while driving. You can mount the device at the back of the car when needed, and simply remove it when you don't. It will be available in Canada in mid-March for about $249.
Kohler Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror with Alexa
It's first time exhibiting at CES, Kohler was one of many companies to demonstrate a smart mirror solution for the bathroom. With Alexa capability, you can use voice commands to trigger the LED lights, play music, or perform other tasks. Since it uses LED lights, there are no hotspots. And the mirror has two microphones along with a pair of hermetically-sealed speakers. It also has proximity sensors to light up the sink area when you need to wash your hands after a nighttime bathroom visit. The mirror is one of many Alexa-enabled smart products Kohler has on tap, pun intended. Other products in to works include a smart shower system that would allow you to program your preferred water temperature and pressure, then simply say "Alexa, turn on Christine's shower" in the morning without having to fidget with the taps. Other interesting initiatives include perfect fill bathtub settings, and programmable water dispensing for things like making coffee. Available in March, it will sell for US$999-US$1,299.
Jam Audio MyPic, Hang Tight
Jam Audio is appealing to the Millennial, and even Gen-Z, customers with its redesigned line of portable Bluetooth speakers and headphones., all of which employ funky designs and cute names. One of the most interesting is the MyPic, a portable Bluetooth speaker that is IP67-rated waterproof, and can run for a full 24 hours. All of the models in the line, including this one, come with the necessary USB charging cable built right in. It will sell for about $99. Another neat design is the circular Hang Tight portable Bluetooth speaker ($39), which has a sticky back that allows you to adhere it to any surface, like the side of a table, or a cooler while camping. Simply rinse the adhesive if it loses its stickiness. It runs for about eight hours per charge.
Urbanista Tokyo "True Wireless" Earbuds
There's a big trend at the show towards "true wireless" earbuds that fit into each ear, with no wires at all. These ones employ a simple design, with an on/off button. While they can only run for about three hours per charge, they come with a charging case that can offer an additional three charges to keep them going through a day, or weekly workout sessions or commutes to the office. The coolest feature: simply take one bud out of the case if a call is coming through your phone, and it will automatically pick up so you can start talking as soon as the bud is placed in your ear. They'll sell in Canada for about $179. Check out a video demo below.
MyCharge 20,000mAh Portable Power
I've been heading out each day during CES with my phone fully charged, a power case that provides an extra battery boost, and a portable charging bank. And even with all of that, I've found my phone in the red on more than one occasion before heading back to my hotel room. As my MacBook Air ages as well, I find that the battery is no longer lasting as long as it used to. So again, I found that after a full day of press conferences, I was at about 20% by the time I headed back. Needless to say, our requirements for power, especially for road warriors, is voracious. MyCharge's new 20,000mAh power pack is an impressive solution. While it's large and quite heavy, it can provide multiple charges of multiple mobile devices, such as a computer, smartphone, camera, and more. It has two USB-A outlets, USB-C, an AC outlet, and, to top things off, a Qi wireless charging pad on the top so you can recharge compatible devices, including the new iPhone X and 8, as well as the latest Samsung Galaxy devices, and a host of other Android phones, without any cables. Scheduled for availability in March, it will sell for about US$200. But as one device that can charge just about anything, it's a great solution - if you're willing to carry it around with you.