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Technology Today - February 2015 - CES Press Day - what an event!
By Robert Sanborn

Press day at CES is the day before the show where the big hitters get to show off their new products and wow several hundred media people at the same time. Sometimes if you get lucky, you can sit close enough to see what they are showing off.  When I went to the Sony presentation, I ended up sitting in the back (because I wasn’t there an hour early) and actually saw nothing happen at all on the stage. At least the wine wasn’t too bad but then again, after wandering around in that incredibly dry climate, anything wet would have probably tasted pretty good. Sony Booth
Panasonic Well, since I mentioned Panasonic, let me tell you about their conference. According to Panasonic, the automotive industry accounts for 25% of their sales in North America and they are partnering with Ford to offer the Aupeo personal radio. https://www.aupeo.com/ They are also setting up a joint venture with Toyota in the development of the batteries for the Prius hybrid auto. Another venture they have going is with Gogoro, the worlds first and only Smartscooter. www.gogoro.com and are building battery swapping stations for them. They are also building batteries for the Tesla and its new Model X. Technics is a very old audio name and it seems Panasonic is reviving it as well. Finally for the homeowner, look for the latest in microwave ovens in the Panasonic Cyclonic-Wave Microwave oven. Something I have been looking for is an over that evenly distributes the heat. And of course, 4K televisions are on the way.
Sharp was showing off a new technology they call the MEMS/IGZO. Take a look at this link: http://www.androidauthority.com/sharp-mems-igzo-tablet-2015-533896/ but you will see beyond the technical discussion that it looks to be the new wave in tablet displays. Of course, they are also showing off the latest in 4K televisions and they were spectacular to see. How about a 120 inch screen with no visible frame around it.  See the news about it on this link: http://sharp-world.com/corporate/news/140618.html the display becomes part of each pixel and so you can create a display of any dimensions. With all the advances in Television technology (or I really should say display technology), Sharp expects that 4K TV Sales will account for 67% of all TV sales by 2017. We will also see Android taking over the television operating system as well. Towards the end of this year, we should also see a ton of very slim line televisions. And of course, 8K television is on the way but that will be for a later topic. Sharp
Voxx

Voxx, www.voxxintl.com is a press conference I like to attend. Voxx is a conglomeration of companies and so with names like Audiovox, Acoustic Research, Jensen, Code Alarm, 808, and my favorite; Klipsch you know that the press conference will cover a wide range of really cool products.

I liked the 808 Performer BT model headphones for around $80. Also their NRG Speakers. The number one selling Bluetooth speakers under $50. For living outdoors, Acoustic Research has a set of outdoor speakers, the Hatteras for around $220. Also from AR is the VitaCharge Portable Power Banks; a very stylish compact external battery for your smartphone. To save money on your insurance, use a Car Connection system to monitor driving habits. That is from Audiovox. If you want an alternative to typing in passwords all the time and a fingerprint is not good enough, then look at the Myris Eyelock device from Voxx to scan your iris. $279. And finally, if you want to sing like a rock star, look at the Voxx Singtrix; the next generation in Karaoke for $349.

TCL Multimedia, http://multimedia.tcl.com is one of those companies that you have never heard about but soon will. They are currently ranked 3rd in global LCD TV Market share with 6.8% of global LCD TV sales and is number one in the Chinese market at 18.1%. To find them, you need to go to Facebook at www.facebook.com/tcltv which oddly enough is blocked in China. In China, the big news is that in 2014, Smart TVs were finally the top selling type of TV.

What they do to their television sets is to include Android and they are the first television maker in China to come out with a 4K certified product. They have partnered with Roku to give you a whole line of sets with it built in. They are also working on a new technology called Quantum DOT which uses light-emitting nanoparticles to create a sharper and brighter image. According to TCL, normal high definition sets have a 60% color saturation while OLED is at 100% and Quantum DOT gives you 110% color and contrast. Quantum Dot TV

TCL also partnered with Harmon Kardon Sound to bundle a speaker into a television set that actually sounded good in a crowded ballroom of over 250 people. To top it all off, their booth had a 110 inch 4K curved TV that was incredible to see.

One entire section of the CES show floors was devoted to companies that were launching themselves and looking for investors. ShowStoppers; http://www.showstoppers.com/ had an event called “Launch It” at CES to show off some of those new companies and while it might be too early to tell if they will be successful, some of them did have some cool ideas and products. There is even a website for sharing cool products called Spot; www.spot.io and one of the things we heard was that 95% of Angel investors lose money. 50% of them regret their investment decision. Investing in startups is not for the faint of heart. Here a few interesting things from that. SunFriend is a wearable monitor to tell you how much sun you are getting. www.sunfriend.com  Lert.ly, www.lert.ly is a personal safety system that is low power, wifi enabled, all battery safety system to alert you and others of a safety problem. They have motion sensors, door sensors, and other things like a voice enabled wall communicator.

Sunfried

Another cool product was VocalZoom, www.vocalzoom.com which attempts to enable voice communication and recognition in virtually any sound environment and the demo they gave us was very cool. They took a recorded message that was nearly impossible to hear because of the surrounding noise and made it very recognizable.

Everykey

EveryKey is another attempt to solve the problem of too many passwords to keep track of. www.everykey.com A Bluetooth enabled wristband that enables military grade encryption to grant access to enabled devices. It also manages a password list for automatic login to websites. All you have to do is to wear it and if you lose it, just go online to the website and deactivate it. You can also see more about it on Kickstarter.

Finally, something that didn’t strike me as all that exciting but grows on me is the LumiFi site: www.lumifi.com which is an App enabled device to control how lights work in your environment. They call it affordable, convenient, and intelligent lighting at your fingertips with smart lightbulbs and a Wi-Fi bridge connection to connect up to 50 bulbs to your smart device. Start with the starter kits from Philips or add individual bulbs. A pretty neat ideal.

 One of the big CES pre show events was called CES Unveiled where they tell us that they will be showing off the best of CES and the brightest new ideas. Problem was that the ballroom they used was very hot and very crowded. There is a lot of shuffling around (you can’t walk because of the number of people), standing, and hoping to get a glimpse of something interesting. To top it off, there was a very long walk to a long wait at the taxi stand. At least I found a Starbucks in the hotel to take a break.

More from CES later.

Robert Sanborn

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