Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Smart devices trend cluttered CES with non-traditional consumer electronics

Following up on my earlier post about the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, here are some final observations about the show.

Are dishwashers consumer electronics? 

One of the big trends at this year’s CES was the focus by major manufacturers on household appliances that most people wouldn’t consider consumer electronics.
But the addition of computer chips to dumb devices has put them in the same league as other smart devices, like smartphones and smart TVs.
Panasonic was at the show promoting its Breakfast Collection, a range of small kitchen appliances including a toaster, toaster oven, coffee maker and kettle.
Panasonic also devoted considerable attention to its beauty and grooming products, such as heated eyelash curlers, electric toothbrushes and shavers, and a battery-operated nail polish remover. It also touted a hair dryer that moisturizes hair as it dries it. This Panasonic blow dryer with Nanoe technology features U.S. Olympic soccer star Alex Morgan as a spokesmodel.

Samsung was at the show with clothes washers and dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators and oven-ranges.
LG Electronics was on hand with washer-dryers, fridges and kitchen appliances.
Many of these smart home appliances connect to the Internet and mobile devices, making them part of the burgeoning Internet of Things.
They just don’t inspire the same kind of awe as a giant super high-resolution television.

Coolest products at the show 

People always ask me to name the coolest gadget I saw at the show.
While the big-screen Ultra HD televisions, also called UHD or 4K TVs, were amazing, they’re a little out of my price range.
I also dug the flying video copters from DJI and Parrot, but don’t have the patience to learn how to use one.
Call me weird but my favorite gadget at the show was a smartphone case from Flir Systems that turns your iPhone into an infrared camera. The quality of the images and sensor technology were astounding.
At $349, the Flir One consumer thermal-imaging system isn’t cheap. But it is definitely cool.
With the imager, you can see in complete darkness. Flir sees applications in security, public safety, energy efficiency, nighttime navigation, industrial production, preventive maintenance, and the enjoyment of the outdoors. Hell, I just want to search for Bigfoot with one.
Jeff Frank, vice president of product strategy for Flir, suggested another application that resonated with me – being able to find your cat in the bushes at night. I’ve been there before.
The Flir One is planned for release in spring.

CES booth babes

Of course, it wouldn’t be CES without sexy booth babes and the debate over whether the show should have them.
The Verge and Venture Beat weighed in with thoughtful pieces about booth babes, while Game Breaker opted for a slideshow of “The Hottest Booth Babes Of CES.” Also chiming in on the issue were Tech Crunch and Chip Chick.

Samsung’s Chef Collection of kitchen appliances introduced at CES 2014 (Samsung photo);
U.S. Olympic soccer gold medalist Alex Morgan is the spokesmodel for Panasonic’s new high-tech blowdryer. (Panasonic photo);
Flir One consumer thermal imaging system for the iPhone 5 and 5S. (Flir Systems photo)
Booth babes at CES (Sample from slide show by Game Breaker.)

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