A CIO at CES: the Weird and the Wonderful

Greetings once again from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where I am one of 160,000 attendees, 3500 vendors and 6000 media. Let me state at the start of this blog: I like technology gadgets but some of the devices I saw today makes me wonder, do we really need one of these?

Suck on this
As the first example, there is the BlueMaesto’s bluetooth-enabled baby pacifier that tracks the baby’s temperature, medication record as well as the baby’s location. It has an alarm that the parent can activate if the pacifier is lost and if the baby drops it, an alert is sent to the parents’ Apple or Android device. Parents can create alerts and reminders based on the information on the unit. For $40 the pacifier offers a lot of features, but my question is, would parents want to have their baby suck on a pacifier full of electronics?

Data for gym rats
Gymwatch is a fitness tracker that measures every possible aspects of your workout. It can detect and provide information whether you did the exercise properly, regardless whether you used machines or weights or performed other fitness exercises. It claims to track every strength component, such as “starting strength, explosive strength or speed strength, as well as the precise motion amplitude” in every exercise. The gentleman at the booth described it as a personal fitness trainer and coach. For sure, it provides a lot of information. The device, which looks like a very wide watch band, can be attached to the upper arm, or to the leg for leg exercises or any other part of your body you are exercising. The cost ranges between $200 – $400 and provides a lot of information though not the time or date as the man in the booth said that it is not a watch but a coach. I would think one would need to be really involved in their daily workout to want this much information about their exercise habits. I also wonder if they wouldn’t spend more time on absorbing the information than working out?

OK this is the last one…
no this one…Then there is the QuitBit lighter that is supposed to help smokers to quit smoking. Yes, it does light the cigarette using a mechanism similar to a car lighter. Through lighting the cigarette, the QuitBit lighter tracks how often the person smokes, for how long, the number of cigarettes smoked, when, and how much money you spent. It displays some of the information on the lighter and it also connects to the QuitBit app on your smartphone with further analysis of the information. This gives the smoker an insight to his smoking habit which could be used to make better decisions about smoking. While the cost is reasonable at $99, one can’t help but wonder how much this device would really help a smoker quit, or would a frustrated smoker just give up.

For breathless conversations
FreeWavz are smart earphones that have no wires or cables. It seems to be targeted at the avid runner. It goes into the runner’s ears and records current speed, oxygen saturation, calories, heart rate, distance while the runner is listening to music or talking on the phone. FreeWavz has something called a “three-axis accelerometer” that is used for steps and distance calculations and can also be used in the future for metrics like acceleration, drop rate, and time at rest and in motion. It looks similar to a Bluetooth earphone that people use to talk on the phone. It will be available in April at a cost of $249.

Deep dive on wearables
And just as a contrast, let me describe an interesting product that parents may like. The Iswimband provides an alert on your Apple device if a swimmer is underwater longer than a specific time, or a child enters the water. The person at the booth explained that it was made with children in mind and provides further protection rather than replacing the need to be watchful when a child is around the water. It works in the pool, in the bathtub or at the beach. Android and Windows versions are under development. It comes in a clip as well as a childproof wristband format at a cost of $80. The clip can be attached to a head band or any other clothing.

I hope you enjoyed reading about these gadgets, and smiled in wonderment on what will they think of next.