Ventev Battery Packs and Accessories at CES

Ventev LogoAlthough there have been great improvements in battery technology, the bigger screens, thinner devices and faster processors mean that I still have to watch my smartphone’s battery level. USB power packs go someway in alleviating battery anxiety and Marlo chats to Scott Franklin of Ventev to see what they can offer the charge concerned.

Ventev offer a selection of mobile accessories including battery packs and cables with some specifically aimed at Apple owners with Lightning connector. On show in the video are battery packs with combinations of built-in wall chargers, capacity and intergrated cables. With prices from $39.99 up to $99.99, there’s a pack for every situation and price.

Interview by Marlo Anderson of The Tech Ranch. Note that the early part of the interview is missing.

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Smart Hearing Aids from Siemens at CES

Siemens Hearing Test IconAs people get older, one of the more common complaints is of hearing loss. Many of those getting older now have grown up with technology and expect more than brown lumps of plastic which simply won’t do in an Apple-designed world. Today’s hearing aids are small, discreet and smart. Todd hears about the latest products from Thomas Powers of Siemens Hearing Instruments.

Siemens’ latest assistive hearing device is the Binex, which uses signal processing to help people in traditionally difficult listening environments, especially those where there’s a high level of background noise, such as restaurants or trade shows. The aid intelligently reacts to the noise, filtering out the unwanted sound while keeping nearby voices clear.

Worn around the neck, the easyTek streams audio from a Bluetooth-connected device directly into the hearing aid so it’s great for listening to music from a smartphone or tablet. The easyTek can be controlled by the easyTek app for Android and iOS smartphones to discreetly adjust programmes and volume, listen at a preferred level without disturbing others or direct the microphone towards the next person at a restaurant.

Available now, the smart hearing aids cost around $1500-$2000 which includes assessment and fitting.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Perfect Bake with Connected Scales at CES

Perfect BakeAlthough the Internet of Things is very much of the moment, sometimes all you need is a connected device. In this case, the device being connected is a set of kitchen scales. Todd and Todd start cooking with Darin Barri and Perfect Bake Scale and App.

Targetted at cooks and bakers, Perfect Bake combines digital scales with a tablet app to make sure that the weight (or more correctly mass) is just right. Connected via the audio jack, scales can weigh in real-time, showing the quantity on the tablet screen. The app has hundreds of recipes and can walk the baker through the steps with mixing times and instructional videos. The scales come with colour-coded preparation bowls to help too and the app can adjust quantities to suit appetite.

There’s an even an oven thermometer to make sure the temperature is right, so whatever’s baked, it’s baked perfectly every single time.

The app available for both Android and Apple devices, the Perfect Bake Scale and App is available now for $69.99 from Brookstone. A Bluetooth wireless version will be available later in 2015.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Todd Aune of The Elder Divide for the TechPodcast Network.

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Ion Audio Gets The Party Going at CES 2015

Ion Sound Experience

The great thing about Ion Audio is that they concentrate on fun audio products: seriously, who else puts a speaker in plant pot? At CES, Ion has continued in the tradition of fun with two products for two very different environments. Todd listens in with Wendy Fortin, Ion Product Manager.

First up is the Block Party Live, a 50W PA speaker on luggage wheels complete with light show. No really, there’s a light dome on top that projects coloured lights. Music can be streamed via Bluetooth and there’s an Apple and Android app to control the lights. Available now for $199.

Coming inside, the Sound Shine are wireless stereo speakers with built-in LED lighting. Screwed into a standard lamp holder the two speakers can either work as independent mono speakers or can be paired up for stereo sound. As with the Block Party, music is streamed via Bluetooth and both the music and light output can be controlled via an app for both Android and Apple devices. Available in Q1, $69 buys a single lamp and $129 gets a pair.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Face Recognition Comes To Simplicam

Simplicam Logo

Back in 2014 when ArcSoft launched the simplicam home monitoring system based around a high-definition webcam, it borrowed face detection technology from digital cameras. With this tool, the monitoring system was able to differentiate between persons and pets, ensuring that only important alerts were sent through to the owner who would otherwise be swamped with notifications when their cat or dog took a wander round the house.

SimplicamArcSoft has now announced at CES that the face detection feature in simplicam powered by Closeli can be upgraded to (beta) face recognition, meaning that not only does the system recognise people vs pets, it can now tell who has walked into the house. Those expected to be at home can be ignored with strangers immediately flagged.

The new Face Recognition Manager in the Closeli app allows users to register and store up to ten people. After a short setup, home owners can configure privacy settings for each individual and customise notifications, choosing to receive alerts when a specific registered person or an unrecognised person is in the house. The app can be set to automatically save or delete footage based on who is home.

ArcSoft is a pioneer in Face Detection and Face Recognition technology, and we are excited to bring this expertise to the connected home. When we released simplicam powered by Closeli earlier this year, we got invaluable feedback from customers and press. Now, new and current users can provide us with feedback directly from within the Closeli app that may be incorporated into the product,” said Caroline Tien-Spalding, Senior Director of Marketing, ArcSoft.

The standalone simplicam is $149 and a year’s worth of Closeli’s 1-Day Recording Services brings the price to $199. The Closeli service is needed for the face detection and recognition.

I think this is a great step forward as when I previously reviewed a home monitoring kit from another manufacturer, one of my concerns was that I felt I was spying on my family.  All activity in the house, whether my business or not, was being detected, recorded and forwarded to my smartphone. I think this goes a long way towards addressing those concerns.

Hexoskin Smart Shirt Now Comes In Small

Hexoskin LogoCanadian outfit Hexoskin has been in the wearables market longer than most, starting out in 2006 and now has a range of smart shirts with a built-in body metric system to measure heart rate, breathing, activity and sleeping using sensors woven into the fabric of the shirt.

Hexoskin, with the support of NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, created sensors made of textile, leaving almost no hardware in the shirt – there’s no watch or tight fitting chest band required. There is a small recording unit that slips into a side pocket on the shirt and communicates with a smartphone via Bluetooth. Both iOS (Apple) and Android phones are supported, and a downloaded app keeps track of all the data. With over 42,000 data points recorded every minute, there’s a fair amount of data.

In addition to the usual metrics, the Hexoskin system also measures heart rate recovery, heart rate variability, breathing rate, breathing volume, activity level, acceleration and cadence, all in real time. These metrics give users the information they need to plan their training programmes and surpass their fitness and athletic goals. Essentially a wearable precision lab, Hexoskin provides its users with high quality metrics in real time – these are tools for people serious about their performance.

Today, Hexoskin announced child and youth sizes for the Hexoskin shirt, making it the world’s first biometric smart shirt tailor-made for kids and teens. Adapted to fit all the same sensors of the adult shirts into the smaller shirt size, the Hexoskin Junior will be available in sizes XXS to XL.

Hexoskin Kids

Youth athletics are popular all over the world,” said Pierre-Alexandre Fournier, Co-Founder and CEO of Hexoskin.  “Whether it’s hockey, baseball, football, soccer, volleyball or track & field, kids are part of intense training programs that are training them to become champions and Olympians.  With the addition of Hexoskin Junior, we’ve set out to provide coaches, parents and kids the invaluable tools our adult shirts provide.

By reviewing the data before, during and after workout sessions, users can exert maximum training effort, while still avoiding fatigue, overtraining and injuries.  This is particularly important with young athletes, especially since they are still growing and can be at a greater risk for injury than adult athletes.

Hexoskin Junior is available for pre-order in sizes XXS to XL and will retail for $149 for the shirt alone. A full starter pack with monitoring devices is $379. Not cheap but if you are going for gold, it’s probably money well spent. For more information, visit www.hexoskin.com.

The Curve Continues at CES with the LG G Flex2

LG LogoLG today announced at CES the second iteration of its curved smartphone, the G Flex2. Building on the innovation and success of the first generation G Flex, the Flex2 arrives with a more advanced design, faster performance and most importantly, greater convenience.

The G Flex2 goes beyond its predecessor’s ground-breaking curved profile. The new smartphone incorporates a range of curves from a radius of 400mm to 700mm across the front, back, sides and top-to-bottom edges. The curved layers deliver a sleeker and more dynamic appearance to the G Flex2. It does look good.

LG G Flex2
Spec-wise, the LG G Flex 2 sports a 5.5″ full HD curved P-OLED screen at 1080 x 1920 pixels (403 ppi) driven by a Qualcomm Adreno 430 GPU. The phone itself is powered by a 2.0 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB RAM, running Android Lollipop out of the box. Usefully, there’s a micro SD slot to expand the storage if needed.

Other features include a rear 13 MP camera that has optical image stabilisation (OIS+) and uniquely in smartphones, a laser auto-focus. The front camera is 2.1 MP cameras which is less than some other smartphones but I think that’s fine for a selfie or video call. As expected, it’s a 4G / LTE unit with Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Apt-X capable Bluetooth. Best of all, the battery doesn’t skimp at a sizeable 3,000 mAh. There’s also a fast charge feature that will boost the battery up to 50 percent in under 40 minutes.

Seasoned GNC readers may remember the original G Flex came with a self-healing back, which keeps the phone looking new even through the nicks and scratches from normal everyday use. This has also been improved with significantly faster healing time, reducing the time from about three minutes to around ten seconds at room temperature.

The original G Flex demonstrated LG’s pioneering spirit and with the G Flex2 we have refined the curved form factor, staying true to our philosophy of innovation for a better life,” said Juno Cho, president and CEO of the LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company. “The G Flex2 not only has the stunning looks, it also has the powerful guts to be at the cutting edge of current smartphone technology. Simply put, it’s a true head-turner in every sense of the word.

The LG G Flex2 will be available starting at the end of the month in Korea to be followed by additional global markets, including the UK at the end of February. Price was not disclosed.

Visitors to LG’s booth at CES 2015 (Las Vegas Convention Center, Central Hall #8204) can experience LG’s newest mobile devices, including the G Flex2.

TrackR Bravo Goes to CES

Trackr LogoIndigogo darling TrackR is at CES 2015 to show off the latest incarnation of its mini trackers, the TrackR bravo. If you aren’t familiar with TrackR products, they’re small, coin-sized devices which easily attach to valuable items that you want to track, from keys to laptops and pets. And if you do misplace something precious, the TrackR app for both iOS and Android, can locate any lost item in seconds by ringing your missing item or point the way using TrackR’s Distance Indicator. If it’s really lost, you can use Crowd GPS to track it down.

Trackr Bravo

The latest version, the TrackR bravo, raised over $1 000 000 in funding at Indigogo and is in the closing stages of development with full production expected in February 2015. It’s only 3.5 mm thick and 31 mm across, making it easy to attach and there are accessories such as a pet collar attachment and a waterproof housing. The TrackR bravo can be pre-ordered for $29.

TrackR received a batch of the latest development samples just in time for the CES and they’ll be at the Sands Expo Booth #74335. Pop round and see the TrackR bravo in person.

Archos Boosts Entry-Level 4G Smartphones for CES

Archos LogoArchos today announced the new Archos 50 Diamond 4G smartphone as the new top-of-the-line model in Archos’ sub-$200 4G smartphone range. French company Archos has a long history with Android tablets and smartphones and 50 Diamond takes over from the Helium 50 as the Archos’ flagship devices. Revealed at “Paris CES Unveiled”, the new phone will run Android 4.4 KitKat out the box and presumably an upgrade to Lollipop is in the offing, though it’s not confirmed.

Archos 50 DiamondSpec-wise, the phone is powered by a 1.5 GHz octa core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 with 2 GB of RAM. The 50 Diamond sports a 5″ full HD IPS screen and 16 GB RAM. Usefully, there’s a micro SD slot to expand the storage if needed. Other features are as expected in this price range with 16 MP and 8 MP cameras. In terms of 4G and LTE, the radios support 800 / 1800 / 2100 / 2600 MHz frequencies with LTE cat 4 150 Mbps / 50 Mbps. Interestingly, the 50 Diamond can take dual micro SIMs, which could be handy for frequently travellers or those who have to juggle personal and business phones.

In 2014, consumers don’t have access to high performance handsets from traditional smartphone vendors below $500” says Loïc Poirier, General Director of Archos. “With the Archos 50 Diamond, we are pushing forward the same advanced technology but we make it accessible to all consumers.

In related news, Archos also announced the refresh of Helium smartphone line plus new tablets: the 80b Helium 4G, an “over-equipped” Android tablet (their words, not mine!) will retail for $150. It’s an 8″ tablet and joins 7″ and 10″ siblings in the Helium tablet line-up.

For more information about Archos and its entire selection of smartphones and tablets, visit Archos during CES 2015 at Sands Expo Hall A-C, Booth 70437 or at www.archos.com

Kodak Returns to CES 2015 with Consumer Showcase

Kodak LogoAfter an absence of three years, Kodak is returning to CES in January 2015 with a range of innovative consumer products including action cams and baby monitors.

Building on a history of digital and video cameras, Kodak will be introducing a line of PixPro cameras, including the PixPro SP360 action cam which provides a 360-degree view. In addition, Kodak will be showing off a smartphone as well as line of headphones and earbuds.

Returning to its photographic roots, Kodak will be demonstrating the Kodak Picture Kiosk and My Kodak Moments app for making prints and other photo products from mobile devices.

Finally, Kodak will be bringing out the Kodak Baby Monitoring System CFH-BVA10, which has already earned a prestigious CES Innovation Award in advance of the show.

Kodak has one of the world’s most powerful brands and we intend to renew it and apply to it to expand our consumer business and grow the company,” said Steven Overman, President, Consumer & Film Division, and Chief Marketing Officer. “The world’s love affair with Kodak Moments has spanned more than a century. Building on that legacy, Kodak today presents a broad range of consumer products – reliable, accessible and easy-to-use.

Other Kodak products on show at CES include:

  • Flash drives and storage media.
  • Photo mailing labels, stickers and other paper imaging specialty items.
  • A full line of batteries and new line of chargers for smart phones and tablets.
  • Photo-related accessories and equipment, including binoculars, camera cases and memory card readers.

The Kodak booth is #21818 in South Hall 1.