I like to think of myself as a bit of a tech geek. When I say that, I should clarify that I’m not the type of guy that can tell you how much RAM was in the Atari 2600 (without looking it up, anyway).
However, I am the type of guy that if I see something cool, I say, “I can think of at least three reasons why I need that in my life now.”
If you’re the type of person that finds yourself saying that all the time, this is the post for you. Here are some of the cool stuff from this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
My favorite superhero is probably Iron Man. While the suit is cool, the thing that stands out is that Tony Stark has a house filled with technology that’s just futuristic enough to blow your mind, but you could totally see having it in your house one day.
Amazon Echo is getting pretty darn close to Tony Stark’s artificial intelligence (AI) assistant “j.A.R.V.IS.” at this point. The device, with its voice-activated personal assistant Alexa has been out for a while at this point, but CES brought some new partnerships that should excite anyone with smart home devices.
Not only can you have Alexa place an order from Amazon, play your media and give you details on your commute, but now Amazon is tying its AI in with your house. Thanks to partnerships with companies like Insteon, Philips and SmartThings, you can use your Echo to control lights and other switch-operated devices.
Let’s call it like it is: Drones are just plain cool. One drone shown at CES this year might have the power to start a revolution.
Ehang 184 is an autonomous drone built to carry a person who weighs up to 260 pounds. As someone who has a physical disability and can’t drive himself to work, the possibility of autonomous cars was already exciting to me. With the addition of flight, now we’re talking about cutting commute time in half.
Unfortunately, the fact that they don’t list the price on the website means it’s either beyond the price range of mere mortals or it’s a long way from being production-ready (or both). Fortunately, other drone makers have consumer-level products in abundance.
The drone manufacturer whose claims I’d really like to test the most is Parrot. The company says its DISCO drone is virtually “uncrashable.” That almost sounds like a challenge.
In all seriousness, the drone has advanced AI, allowing you to try maneuvers to your heart’s content while keeping things level so that you can remain under control. It does this using a combination of a gyroscope, barometer, magnetometer and GPS. To begin flight, you just reset the sensors and throw it up in the air where it will fly in circles until you take control.
Instagram filters are OK, but they don’t give you the real-deal feel of old photographs. The folks at Polaroid have acknowledged that everything old has become new again, and they’re capitalizing on the opportunity.
The Snap is a fairly simple camera. You have the option of choosing between black-and-white, sepia tone or color photos. Immediately after you snap the picture, the photo is thermally printed on 2-by-3-inch paper. While this uses no ink, you’ll have to spend a little bit on the paper, anywhere between $.30 and $.50 per print. You can’t beat the convenience of instant printing.
Snap can also take an SD card up to 32GB for all those pictures you might want to save in the digital realm. Later this year, Polaroid plans to introduce the Snap+, which will feature a screen and smartphone connectivity.
Tony Stark had Pepper Potts. Now you can have your own personal assistant in Pepper the robot.
At 4 feet tall, Pepper is a robot with a humanoid form and can do things like interpret emotions, answer your questions and take commands. I’m not sure if I really want to pour my heart out in front of a robot, but a spokesperson for the company says Pepper learns your habits. It can do things like bring you the remote and a glass of your preferred soft drink when you sit down in front of the TV.
Although it’s not for sale in the U.S. just yet, I have to imagine the fact that the company previewed it at CES means we could have our hands on our very own robot butlers very soon.
Gadgets to Save Us from Ourselves
Humans are a forgetful race, or at least that’s what I tell myself when I fail to include a link in one of these posts. With that in mind, the last two gadgets I want to cover are meant to save us from ourselves.
I have a silky terrier at home. He can be cunning. Sometimes his food bowl is empty, and he rattles it or looks up at you with those sad brown eyes. We can’t seem to remember if we fed him today, so we put food in the bowl. But he’s 10 years old, his metabolism is slowing down and he’s starting to pack on the pounds from these accidental extra feedings. Now there’s a solution for that.
Petnet makes a SmartFeeder for cats and dogs to dispense food from a reservoir. With the companion iOS app, you can control feeding times and portion sizes. You can even sign up to have your pet’s food delivered to your door so you don’t have to go out shopping for it.
Now that we’ve covered pets, what about plants? They’re much less demanding, but you still have to make sure they’re watered. The Parrot Pot can maintain your plants for up to 30 days, which certainly comes in handy if you’re going on a trip.
The pot has a companion app for iOS and Android. It can measure levels of fertilizer and soil moisture, as well as light, to make sure your plant is properly cared for. The pot and app will be available April 2016.
That’s the stuff I found cool, but I’m sure there’s something you’re excited about on the tech horizon. In the comments below, let us know what that is.
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