Security, Home Automation, Wearables Dominate CES Unveiled
Withings’ smart camera with facial recognition; Fibaro’s ultimate home automation sensor; Bragi's super-smart earbuds; LG's NFC-enabled washer/dryer ... and more from CES Unveiled
Julie Jacobson · November 18, 2014
What will CES 2015 look like? About 30 exhibitors gave us a glimpse at CES Unveiled in New York City recently. Expect to see in Las Vegas a lot of sensors, home automation, security, IoT, wearables and maybe, just maybe, intelligent appliances.
Here are some of the goodies we spied at the press event.
Withings Smart Watch & Camera
Withings, the company that brought us the Internet-connected scale will showcase two IoT product extensions at CES.
First, the new Activité watch ($450) doesn’t just act smart, it looks smart – like a real watch with analog hands and all.
The Swiss-made timepiece is encased in scratch-proof, waterproof stainless steel that won’t corrode over time.
Other than that, it’s pretty much the same fancy exercise tracker, health motivator and sleep-pattern analyzer that everyone else is making or will be making.
The Bluetooth Smart (BLE)-enabled device tracks steps, distance, calories expended, running and swimming (strokes).
Then there’s the Withings Home ($200), a smarter and cooler looking video camera than some of the others on the market.
For starters, it’s encased in wood and has an RGB nightlight built into it. The light is configurable to respond to alarm events.
Other than that, it has sensors for temperature and humidity, as well as VOC (volatile organic compound) – those nasty airborne contaminants. The camera will send an alert if any of these measures are out of whack.
The HD camera itself has a 135-degree lens, as well as a mic and speaker for two-way talk. There’s a hard drive built in for storing images and a five-second video clip, captured any time an event occurs.
Withings will store these images for two days for free. If you want to grab any of them for keeps, simply download it. The company will offer fee-based cloud storage services as well.
The more interesting thing about the camera is the video analytics tool for facial recognition. Each time a new person comes into view, the app will ask you if that person is OK. If so, the face is stored in the database.
Withings Home is compatible with IFTTT, the home automation rules engine that allows users to create if/then scenarios with scores of different Internet-connected devices.
Beddit Sleep Optimizer
Nowadays, most wearables include analytics to tell you how well you sleep, but Beddit’s sleep-optimization device is different. For starters, you don’t wear anything. The device is strapped to your mattress.
Also, Beddit’s Gil Paul says the unit is “incredibly sensitive,” using technology based on ballistocardiography (BCG), a method for measuring cardiorespiratory functions. It detects the tiny signals caused by heartbeat, respiration and movements of the person in bed.
The product tracks heart rate, respiration, sleep cycles and sleep time, and offers advice on how to sleep better in general.
“People don’t recognize how they sleep,” Paul says. “You can get coaching tips to improve the quality of your sleep. As it gets to know you, it improves the coaching.”
That’s not all that interesting to me. The more intriguing feature is that Beddit can use sleep-cycle monitoring to wake you at the “shallowest” part of the sleep cycle, i.e., the opposite of REM.
Apparently, it is most advantageous to be awoken during this light sleep to feel refreshed throughout the day.
With Beddit, the user sets a 30-minute window for wakeup, and the device tips off your app to sound the alarm at the optimal time.
Unlike the other sleep-monitoring and –coaching tools, this service “won’t help in the long term, but it helps you to get out of bed.”
Oh yeah, the app can also discern your own snoring versus your partner’s.
Fibaro Creepy Cat Eye Sensor
Fibaro makes a bunch of innovative Z-Wave sensors, but the one that packs the biggest punch is the creepy-looking Multisensor. Looking very much like a cat eye, the small round device—you could wrap your hand around it—packs a motion sensor, light sensor, temperature sensor and accelerometer—you know, in case someone tampers with it or the earth trembles.
Place sensors throughout the house and use them to send triggers to your Z-Wave home automation system of choice.
Here’s the particularly appealing feature: an RGB LED that can be configured to glow any color based on any condition—maybe red when the temperature gets too hot, pink when the teenager arrives home after curfew, or yellow when the garage door is opened.
Bragi Smart Earbuds
The Bragi Dash in-ear headsets are mostly for wireless enjoyment of music while exercising. They lock into the ears and communicate via Bluetooth Smart (BLE) to your mobile device for streaming music.
The earpieces boast 4 GB of onboard storage so you can load your audio directly into the devices and play.
But that’s just the beginning. There’s also a ‘realtime feedback activity coach” that shouts audibles at the user (faster, higher!), as well as a three-axis accelerometer, three-axis gyroscope and three-axis magnetometer. And an optical sensor for logging biometric data. And microphones. And a proprietary software architecture. And an SDK.
The company suggests developers use their imagination to create new applications for the headphones, which are basically a couple of tiny microprocessors in a wearable form factor.
The Dash measures body vitals via two tiny LEDs emitting low intensity red and infrared light into the capillaries in the ear more than 50 times/second. Using the reflection, a precise heart rate, oxygen saturation level and body temperature is calculated with the data. Dual accelerometers, magnetometers and gyroscopes work together to perform a staggering number of measurements while you walk, run, bike and swim. The Dash tracks speed/distance (with calibration) and movements like pace, steps, cadence, rotation and energy spent – even without a smartphone.
The Dash also works as a Bluetooth headset and delivers clear voice quality through an embedded microphone. Even though The Dash provides impressive noise isolation, the wearer can choose to channel ambient sound into the headphone with the transparent audio feature. Safety and peace of mind come from awareness of your surroundings, like hearing a car, a cyclist or a voice. A simple swipe on the optical touch surface of The Dash will enable or disable ambient sound to pass through.
How to interact with The Dash.
The outer surface of both Dash contains a high resolution optical touch sensor. All audio, telephony and tracking functions are controlled with finger swipes and taps – even with gloves and while wet.
LG Pretentious Appliances
LG demonstrated a really smart washer and dryer with, among other things, NFC technology.
Why would you want such a thing?
“Because I need more than 14 cycles,” said Mark Vitazna, the rep at the booth.
You see, LG only gives you wash and dry options such as Cotton, Heavy Duty, Bright Whites ™, Sanitary, Towers, Delicates and the like.
What if you needed a cycle customized for “denim”?
Just dial it up on LG’s Tag-On app, and tap your device to the washer/dryer.
You know you want it.
Sengled Snap screw-in camera/LED
Adidas Smart Ball
FUZ Noke Bluetooth padlock
Axxess CE AIR2 levitating Bluetooth speaker
Amaryllo iCam HD Pro with object tracking
SmartCharge - a different kind of smart bulb
XCrool remote with rocker scrollers
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at email@example.com
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