My last day at CES did not disappoint. I wanted to get into a little bit of the medical technology that’s coming in 2015, so my first stop today was, of all things, a Japanese eyewear company called Jins. Look at the picture below. One of these things is not like the other.
Indeed, those thick specs in the middle are the Jins Meme, new wearable smartglasses that don’t look like you’re on a Star Trek set (okay, Google Glass). The glasses have sensors on the nose pads and bridge of your nose that determine where you’re looking, and on the back of the frame to detect your posture (mine was, well, fairly poor by day three). A companion app can help you detect calories burned and other metrics, but I’m not sure how you’d rely on a pair of specs for that.
Jins is opening its API to developers and has a special academic package they’ll be coming out with soon for researchers who work with the eyes. One of the interesting possibilities is to gauge your level of fatigue; let’s say you’re driving home and get drowsy. Your eyes start to flutter and slowly close. Ostensibly, the Meme will pick up on this and notify you via a smartphone app. This is one of the things today that promises both medical and practical usage. Expect the academics to get it sooner, and the go retail in the fall.
The other device I saw that stuck out to me was the Linx IAS sports impact monitoring system from appropriately named BlackBox Biometrics. Relevant now more than ever with the controversy surrounding how the NFL deals with concussions, the Linx IAS is a device—not larger than a USB drive—that you put into a skullcap and, using a 3-axis accelerometer and 3-axis gyroscope, can detect how hard you collide with another player. The accompanying app gives info on a smartphone or tablet with a color-coding system—green means you’re fine, yellow is to check for a concussion, and red… well, who needs a working brain?
Originally used by the military for about five years to test for signs of concussion after, say, IED blasts or artillery training, they’ve slimmed down the device so it fits under a helmet—though a helmet’s not necessary. They had it on a test dummy named Bob, and no matter how hard I hit him, I couldn’t seem to give Bob a concussion. The nice folks at the booth assured me that he’s tougher than he looks.
For mass production, this will be for a mother who wants to track her son’s collisions during a middle school football match in real time, along with coaches. The big-picture use is if they can get enough football players or active members of the military wearing them, then they have a large sample of data to do studies on and draw conclusions from. Here’s hoping.
The next booth I went to has been around for a bit, but with a growing user base, it might be worth taking another look. I’m talking about the Peloton bike, which has a screen in front of it for virtual spin classes in both real-time and pre-recorded. It also contains sensors to track your vitals—I believe you’d have to use a heart rate monitor or other wearable—as well as a “leaderboard” to show who—as in, which human being, not a bot—is working the hardest in your class. The downside for you means that the spin instructor knows that too and can yell at you.
I mentioned briefly in yesterday’s post that virtual fitness classes might have a hard time motivating their users without instructor interaction. That about solves it, though.
I also saw some pretty weird stuff on my last day, such as Sen.se’s Mother. Mother is that creepy thing below that looks like a Matryoshka doll with a trapped soul in it. But, the Mother is actually pretty cool. It comes with several sensors that you can put up around the house—on a door, on a bottle of pills, on a toothbrush—and the accompanying app will tell you if someone’s opened the door or broken into your bottle. It can also remind you, from the app, to brush your teeth. So while it looks like it might psychically move your furniture in the middle of the night, it’s actually pretty useful. Though, those eyes…
Next I went to the convention center to check out Intel’s offerings. You know most of them—namely, the BioSport headphones (made with 50-Cent’s SMS Audio) and the Basis Peak, one of the finest trackers on the market. The Peak will soon undergo an update that will make it more of a traditional smartwatch with an iOS update, and the BioSports are one of the few headphones with sensors in the ears that can track your steps taken and calories burned.
On the services end, one that deserves a mention (and made a big CES announcement) would probably be Technogym’s mywellness app. It’s sort of Apple Health, Google Fit or Windows Health, but it’s not quite as closed a platform due to how many partnerships they have. The app brings together data from tons of apps you already use—Fitbit, MyFitnessPal, Polar, Strava, and Withings to name just a few—and brings it all together into a hub of workable, actionable intelligence. For Samsung fans, it also integrates fully into the Note 4, which will connect to any and all Technogym equipment via a console to record their workouts.
I also checked out the decked-out Panasonic booth, featuring a somewhat awkward display of their latest camera technology in partnership with Spartan Race. The idea behind their new cameras—which look a little cumbersome, but the company assured they aren’t—is to record your Spartan Race and keep you camera intact. We’ll have to try one out.
Gibson’s tent outside the convention center was stuffed with drool-worthy guitars, but what caught my attention this time were their new headphones, designed with the help of Usain Bolt, called the Trainer. They’re pretty neat. At first blush, I was dubious whether they would stay on my head or not when working out. But these headphones have both a lifestyle and a workout mode: when you press a button, a more flexible, rubber band pops out from under the proper band and can sit comfortably on your head during a training session or run. There is also a feature on the side of the headphones that could save your life: for night runs, press a button and on the side of the headphones, an LED light will begin flashing. To round it out, the cups on the headphones are sweat-proof and include CoolTouch tech to keep your ears cool. They’ll be out in either April or May for $239.
Also soon-to-be available, on a budget: Philips’ ActionFit headphones. They’re sweat-proof and fit snugly into your ear. They’re also washable—though not machine washable, but in a sink. They range from $20-50 based on the design you want, and will be available in the coming March.
Last but not least, Skullcandy has partnered with Crossfit to make workout-specific headphones with sticky gel tech in the ear cushions to stay in your ear better when you’re sweating. They also have a universal remote and mic with volume control so you can take your calls on a run, compatible with iOS and Android.
That’s it for CES for me. I’ll be back next week with some of our favorite picks of the conference.