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Consumer Electronics Show highlights

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OK, so you didn’t get a ticket for the annual gadget extravaganza in Las Vegas earlier this month. No worries, here’s recap of some of the new “shiny objects” you will soon want to have. 

WEARABLES

Under Armor – Sports clothing maker Under Armor is getting into the gadgets business with a set of wearable devices, headphones and a wireless scale.

Though Under Armor isn’t first with any of these, it’s trying to make it easy on consumers by designing products that connect wirelessly to each other or to its smartphone apps. A new version of its UA Record app seeks to integrate all aspects of your health and fitness – including nutrition, sleep and exercise – though a few features will require a companion app, MapMyRun. The apps are free and will also work with competing devices, such as Fitbit and Garmin watches.

Under Armour is offering a starter package, the UA HealthBox, for $400. It includes the scale, a chest strap to monitor heart rate and a fitness band to track steps and sleep. Each item is also sold separately. Beyond that, Under Armour is offering a shoe embedded with a chip to track exercise – even without a smartphone or any other GPS-enabled device for recording distance. The company is also making two headphones, including one that can measure heart rate at the ear. Most of the items will ship Jan. 22; the shoes and heart-rate headphones will come later. (Source: CBSNews.com)

ROBOTS AND DRONES

Adding to the future-is-here vibe of CES is the continued strong showing of robotics.   This year CES listed 27 robotics exhibitors. The companies represented show a wide range of unexpected applications for robotics technologies.

JETRO, the Japan Innovation Showcase, has a wide range of consumer robotics, from a therapy robot called Pero to one that can prove useful in search and rescue missions. Another big trend is the increasing popularity of drones. During CES, there were four conference sessions dedicated solely to drone innovations and trends. – (Source: AP Reports)

AUTOS

Volkswagen’s old Microbus is getting a major update and could be in a garage near you in around three years.

The company unveiled a futuristic battery-powered concept of the bus at during the CES Event called the BUDD-e. VW expects it to be able to go a staggering 373 miles on a single charge, far longer than electric vehicles today, due to a more efficient battery technology.

The Budd-e has Internet connections to smart home devices and can be charged to 80 percent of its battery capacity in about 15 minutes, VW says. Many charging stations for other electric vehicles now take hours to do the same thing. It also has gesture recognition technology to control the infotainment screen, and the doors can be controlled by voice commands.

VW didn’t say in its releases if the new Microbus will actually go into production, but said that the BUDD-e “demonstrates what electric mobility could be like by the year 2019.” (Source: AP Reports)

sam-fridgeINTERNET OF THINGS: The Fridge

People will be able to order groceries directly from a new Samsung refrigerator.

The Family Hub refrigerator will let users order groceries via an app on the refrigerator’s screen. The app’s made in partnership with MasterCard, though you can use any debit or credit card to pay.

The service initially works with two grocery stores in the New York area: Fresh Direct and ShopRite. Users can choose when they want the groceries delivered. The fee is the same as it would be ordering from a computer – typically a few dollars, plus tip. It will be available in the United States starting in May.

Besides ordering groceries, the 21.5-inch screen on the fridge will let families display photos, calendars and notes for each other. And from a smartphone, you can check what’s inside, as captured by three cameras. You can tell at the supermarket whether you really need more eggs. LG earlier announced a similar peek-inside feature in its fridges. Samsung’s smart refrigerator is among the many Internet-connected items unveiled at the gadget show in Las Vegas.

Hands full of groceries? LG has a refrigerator that opens automatically when a person steps on the projection of an image on the floor. Its LG Signature fridge also lets you peek inside without opening the door, saving electricity and maybe keeping you from making a poor decision regarding a late-night snack. One side of its double doors has an opaque glass window. Knocking on the window lights up the inside slightly, enough to glance at your leftovers.

And of course, it comes equipped with Wi-Fi enabled sensors so you can track the temperature inside and monitor energy use.(Source: AP News)

Humanscale

AT WORK

Office workers probably assume their boss can peek in on their corporate e-mails. But knowing – exactly – how long you’ve been sitting down on the job? That’s the purpose of the “connected caster,” an innocent-looking, weight-sensitive wheel that can be affixed to the bottom of an office chair. It sends data back to a system that tracks just that.

Detroit-based Tome Inc. worked on the product with sleek office furniture designer Humanscale – which, conveniently, makes a line of desks for standing up and working.

Humanscale Founder and CEO Robert King says, “OfficeIQ is in line with our focus on solutions that are inherently simple and easy to use, yet have a real impact on wellness in the workplace. It can generate cost savings and help employers see real returns on their investments in developing healthier and happier places to work.”

Using occupancy and height sensor technology it provides sit/stand data, calculates caloric expenditure, and gives opt-in users real time feedback on their activity at work stations. Humanscale says data on individual workers will be protected and employers receive only receive aggregated data. (Source: Associated Press)

lg-foldable-display

BIG SCREEN

LG turned a lot of heads at CES 2016 this year with the unveiling of an 18-inch flexible display that the company says can be rolled up like a newspaper. Devices like last year’s Samsung Galaxy S6 edge showed us just some of the potential of curved displays but displays that can actually be rolled up or folded are taking these innovations to a whole new level and I can’t wait to see the applications LG comes up with for this technology going forward. (Source: Associated Press)

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