CES 2015 Gadgets: Great Or Silly? - InformationWeek
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1/7/2015
09:35 AM
Ellis Booker
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CES 2015 Gadgets: Great Or Silly?

Will connected dog collars, WiFi-enabled coffee makers, and similar gadgets enhance your life, or just deplete your bank balance?

CES 2015 Preview: 8 Hot Trends
CES 2015 Preview: 8 Hot Trends
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Watching the news streaming out of CES 2015, it's hard not to be a little jealous that I'm not in Vegas this week. (An anticipated -35 degree wind chill in Chicago may have something to do with this.)

Social media is abuzz with all the shiny gadgets being unveiled in Vegas, where, incidentally, the average daytime temperature will be a pleasant 65 degrees this week. I bet it's even warmer inside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, where the likes of Samsung, LG, and Panasonic are showing off their latest electronics to eager crowds, none of whom will be wearing parkas and cursing under their frozen breath.

Perched in my icy office here in the Midwest gives me a perspective about the CES product introductions in sunny Nevada. Let's face it, not every one of the 20,000 new products shown at CES will light a flame in the hearts of consumers. Other gadget ideas -- the ones below -- tell me that some product managers don't sit around worrying their groaning furnace is about to conk out and their pipes are going to freeze -- again.

[Connected devices sound great until you consider the privacy implications. See CES 2015: Internet Of Things Not All Shiny.]

So crank up your space heater and consider these gizmos:

The Motorola Scout 5000. Track your pet with this collar-mounted device, which sports a GPS, WiFi networking, and wide-angle camera for 720p live video streaming. But why stop there? With the Scout 5000, you can talk to your pet remotely when it starts barking at a squirrel spotted through the patio window. The Scout 5000, the latest pet product produced by Binatone under the Motorola brand, will be available this June for $200.

(Source: Edyn website)
(Source: Edyn website)

The $99 Garden Sensor from Edyn gathers and analyzes weather and soil conditions, then wirelessly connects to your phone with alerts and advice. Pair it with the $59 Edyn Water Valve, which relies on input from the Garden Sensor to... well, you can probably guess. Both items will start shipping this spring.

Smarter, maker of the WiFi Kettle, announced the WiFi Coffee Machine. Like WiFi Kettle, there's an associated iOS and Android app to alert you when your beverage is hot and ready. The coffee machine, which includes a bean grinder, is slated for a March release and will retail for around $150.

The SleepIQ Kids Bed from Sleep Number will programmatically adjust to the needs of growing bodies and spines, according to the company. The $1,000 bed will also monitor breathing, heart rate and movement, scoring these measures in its associated app. The bed will also notify parents when the child gets out of bed in the middle of the night.

The Alert Band from Impecca attaches to a driver's head and "monitors and analyzes brainwaves, sending real-time notifications and alarms to the driver's smartphone, family, and friends, as well as social networks, 3-5 minutes before the driver begins to doze off and fall asleep," according to the company. The Alert Band will be available in May for $250.

Peeple hopes to improve on the ordinary door peephole with a system that takes a picture of visitors and sends it to a smartphone before the door is opened. Peeple's founders hope to launch a Kickstarter campaign soon.

Have a favorite off-kilter product announcement from CES 2015? Tell us in the comments below.

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Ellis Booker has held senior editorial posts at a number of A-list IT publications, including UBM's InternetWeek, Mecklermedia's Web Week, and IDG's Computerworld. At Computerworld, he led Internet and electronic commerce coverage in the early days of the web and was ... View Full Bio
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tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
2/21/2015 | 6:54:01 AM
Re: Devices that make sense
I guess it all depends upon the relationship you have with the dog. In my case when my dogs have barked, they wanted something or were just saying hello or they saw something. There really was communication. Now if they bark and you investigate, maybe the thing the dog was barking at passed-like a car or pedestrian. This has been my experience: your results may vary!
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
1/10/2015 | 9:21:08 PM
Re: Devices that make sense
These devices may look silly and meaningless at the current stage. But I bet that at sometime in the near future, some of them will become essential for our daily life. When the first smart phone appears in the market with Nokia S40, people consider that phone is just a phone and it's not necessary to have the fancy fnnctionalities. But nowadays the smart phone is essential for our daily life except you are living in mists.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
1/10/2015 | 3:21:07 PM
Re: Devices that make sense
@tjgkgThe scary part with the pet device is that when a dog starts barking there is a reason for it.
A lot of people know that dogs can hear better than humans. That doesn't mean what they hear and bark is worth investigating.
In my own experience with my dog and my neighbor's dog, 90% of the time their barking is for something not worth checking out. I will agree with you for the other 10%.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
1/9/2015 | 9:22:18 AM
Re: Devices that make sense
The scary part with the pet device is that when a dog starts barking there is a reason for it. To just neutralize the barking without investigating not only could be dangerous, but why bother having a pet if you do not interact with it?
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
1/9/2015 | 9:18:23 AM
Re: Devices that make sense
The toilet paper app might be here sooner than you think. A facilities manager in a big building could probably use something like that combined with soap level and maybe a flood warning feature as well. And if it is available commercially, it will eventually make its way to consumers.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
1/9/2015 | 8:49:45 AM
Re: Devices that make sense
I always wondered why people had VCR's when they did not know how to set them. Guess those people just rented or purchased movies but that ignores a whole lot of functionality from the device. And they made it easy to program shows just by entering codes from a tv guide. All you had to do was just make an investiment of 10 minutes to read the manual to know how to set the timer! At this point people are much less scared of technology because working with smartphones and even DVR's is more involved than setting up a VCR ever was.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
1/9/2015 | 8:44:52 AM
Re: Scout's the winner
Wi Fi can be quite available. But if you are in a rural area you might need a repeater to get the signal to and from the collar. Range is the big issue with wifi more than anything else. Although when i am in the UK i find that capacity is a problem in public places and hotels.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
1/9/2015 | 8:42:44 AM
Re: Devices that make sense
LeeB, 

I over-water my plants, too. :( I don't have a garden, only indoor plants; the garden sensor would be better if it would work for indoor plants as well.

-Susan 
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
1/9/2015 | 8:39:37 AM
For Now...
I guess for now we will have to deal with these kind of couch potato gadgets as they seem to be the low hanging fruit. But as more developers get involved and become aware of what demands are out there, the market will have more useful devices. Personally I don't want to be connected to everything all the time. I like having a proper wrist watch as opposed to one of those smart watches. I liked to play with my dog as he was part of the family. But in time everything will shake out and it will be on to the next big thing.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
1/9/2015 | 8:29:16 AM
Re: pet tracker
Daniel, 

"These might be 'must-have' devices for certain demographics, which I think is the entire point here."

Obviously, these devices are not something that anyone can find useful, but for those with the specific need they can be valuable. I can't care less for a pet tracker, for instance, because I don't have or plan to have a pet. However, when I read about it I immediately thought it will be great for many people I know who own pets. The same with all the rest. The only one that would be useful for me is the WiFi kettle with the iOS app for my tea. The garden thing sounds interesting, but I live in an apartment. And so on. :)

I would have liked to find one in the selection really useful for me, though. 

Devices don't have to be conceived for everybody. :D

-Susan 
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
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