You could spend a full week, eight hours per day, at CES and still not even cover a fraction of the show. Between the three main halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Sands Convention Center, the Venetian suites, Eureka Park exhibit area, and various suites in and around - and even off - the Vegas strip, the magnitude of the event is overwhelming.
That said, even if you visit every hall of every area CES occupies, you're still bound to miss a few things. With that said, here are 5 cool gadgets we happened to stumble upon through the second and third days of the show. (Read our Day One report for a few more.)
Invoxia Triby Smart Portable Speaker
This portable speaker caught my eye because of its clean and gorgeous design. But when I learned more about the device from this French manufacturer, I was even more impressed. It can connect via both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. And as a smart speaker, it is compatible with Alexa, HomeKit, IFTTT for control of smart home devices, as well as Spotify for music playback. When used as a Bluetooth speakerphone, you can not only make and receive voice calls through the speaker, but if you get an incoming text-based message, a tiny, bright yellow piece of plastic will pop out from the side to let you know, and the text of the message will display on the screen. Adding more cool factor to this little speaker: it's also magnetic, so you can simply pop it onto the side of the fridge when you want some tunes while you cook, then carry it to another room using the handy handle when you're done. You'll have to pay for all of those fun features, though, as the speaker will sell for about US$200 which is on the higher end of the price range for similar speakers, especially when considering that pricing in Canada would likely be closer to $230-$240. That said, the speaker packs a great audible punch for such a small form factor. So it's not just about the gimmicks - it sounds great, too. Check out a short demo below.
You may have seen these guys on venture capital TV series Shark Tank, where they made a deal with Lori Grenier for their little machine that can sanitize a smartphone. At CES, the company launched a new version that also includes Qi wireless charging, so that you can not only fully sanitize your phone, but give it a battery boost, too. It takes about 10 minutes to fully sanitize the device, which can be placed inside the paperback book-sized machine, either with or without a case on. The Qi wireless charging version sells for US$100 and one with a USB port for charging for US$60. A larger, medical-grade version is also in production. Costing about $1,500, it would allow hospital staff, or potentially even patients and visitors, to sanitize up to two devices at once in just 30 seconds, and includes an NFC chip to scan devices so that staff knows which devices have been cleaned and which ones haven't.
Filtrete Connected Filter
I was quite surprised to see Filtrete at the show: what does a company that makes furnace filters have to do with tech? It turns out, more than I thought. The company has developed a smart furnace filter that uses Bluetooth Low Energy to communicate with a smartphone app, and remind you when it needs changing. It sends the reminders based on the load of the filter, so you know if you should change it sooner than the recommended three-month period, or conversely, might be able to wait a bit longer. You can set up a profile in the app, customized based on your living quarters, such as if you have pets. In the U.S., you can also automatically order a replacement filter via Amazon. Through the app, you can keep track of multiple filters if you have more than one in your home, and the app will also store the filter size in case you forget while at the store. It also provides tips for improving the air quality in your home. The filters will cost about $5 more than the standard filters.
We met iRing a few years back at the Canadian Wireless Trade Show (CWTS) in Toronto, and loved the simplistic nature of the little metal ring that adheres to the back of your phone or case, then can be used as a grip for your phone, worn around your finger, a kickstand, or looped over a vent or dash mount for the car or other surface. The company has since grown to offer a wide variety of products, including various licensed iRings, featuring everything from Disney characters to Star Wars, Marvel, and more. One particularly handy addition to the line is the iRing Pocket, which sticks onto the back of a phone case to add both the iRing as well as a pocket for holding a credit card, ID, room key, work badge, or other credit card-sized item. It sells for about US$18.
HiDow Manufacturing XPD 12
After having walked the show for several days with a heavy backpack containing a laptop, camera, and other gear, I needed to take a load off. So sitting through the demo of this product seemed to make sense. About 10 minutes later, I was handing the woman my credit card and buying one. This TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) and Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) electrotherapy device includes reusable adhesive electrode pads that you connect to electrode wires, then place on the area of your body that is experiencing muscle pains or stress. Plug the single wire that connects to two pads to the remote unit, which is about the size of an iPod nano (remember those?), turn it on, then toggle among the 12 different massage modes, and the intensity level (1-10) until you find the right one to help ease your pain or discomfort. You can manage two sets of pads at once, if you want to place a couple on either side of your neck, for example, and two more on your lower back. The vibrating sensations mimic everything from kneading to deep tissue massaging, and accupressure on the area of your skin where the pads are placed. The unit will run for about 60 hours before it needs recharging using the included cable, and it takes less than two hours to recharge. A package that includes the unit, two sets of pads (4 total), 2 electrode wires, a plastic piece to holds the pads when they aren't in use, and the necessary charging cables, sells for US$500. (But naturally, you'll get a great show deal if you buy one at their booth during CES.)