Last night I was at the CEA Line Show’s sneak-peek for VIPs, wandering the aisles of this AV-centric event. Held at Manhattan’s Altman Building and Metropolitan Pavilion on W. 18th Street, this show is very much for the trade with established players showing off their latest gear. That’s not to say I wasn’t impressed by some of the very cool wireless sound systems, 3D TVs, and Bluetooth micro-speakers.
But I was on a mission to boldly seek out computer-oriented wares. Here’s an itinerary I worked out to get you the best of both worlds.
For a taste of what’s cooking in the audio-video world, I would first stop off and experience Philadelphia-based Stream TV’s glassless 3D. Dispensing entirely with active-shutter eye-ware, their Ultra-D technology creates a 3D effect that looks somewhat holographic. The 3D-ocity is, I learned, instead based on proprietary algorithms and special display hardware. Ultra-D’s big advantage is their system can take existing video content and render it as 3D.
Ultra-D was convincing enough for me, the viewing angle was quite large, and I was told the amount of “pop” can be controlled.
Next up, wander off to see VoCo, which is a wireless sound gateway that supports music and video streaming from both IOS and Android gadgets, as well as Internet sources, into your existing stereo or TV. The V-Zone hub acts as the device-to-stereo WiFi connector, essentially turning your iPhone or Samsung Galaxy into a remote.
Because the V-Zone has a large cloud component with speech rec powers you can verbally request VoCo to find and play music and, say, YouTube clips. It doesn’t get much more couch-potatoey.
Now that you’ve gotten the AV part of tour out of the way, run off to experience Leap’s gesturing reading gadget. The video demos I watched don’t capture the power of Leap’s hardware and software to interpret hand and pencil motions in a 4-foot cube around a laptop. Leap’s CTO and maestro conductor, David Holz, was there to show newbies how to work this thing.
I watched as Holz spun a 3D molecule by alternately pulling and tugging on thin air. He also showed that with Leap and the proper hand jive, you can virtually sign documents with a pencil, guide a Google Earth tour, and play air hockey by sliding an imaginary puck.
When I took the conducting stand to try Leap, my gesturing wasn’t “grabby” enough–I think you have to grasp an imaginary point. Anyway, I will probably buy one–it can be pre-ordered from their web site for $70–to do boring web browsing and presentations.
While you’re in the Leap neighborhood–they’re at one end of the Altman section–go see Matrix’s yo-yo style Bluetooth speakers. They’re called “Nrgs”, and they can be daisy-chained together for a bigger sound. Nrgs also double as a hands-free speaker-phone for your Apple devices.
Around the corner from Leap you’ll find FutureDash’s EnergyBuddy, a home energy monitoring system. EnergyBuddy includes a gateway device for accessing the Internet, a component that clamps onto the power lines in your basement electric panel–have an electrician do this–and an IOS app to display a dashboard of real-time meters and graphs.
I spoke to Kevin Strong, CEO of this California-based startup, and he views his product as a way to provide real-time feedback on power usage. He told me, as others in this area keep on saying, that consumer have no idea how much it costs to run their central A/C and other power-intensive devices. For more granular monitoring and control, you can also purchase their Smart Plugs, which allows one to monitor and turn off lights remotely.
A few doors down from EnergyBuddy, you’ll find Chattanooga-based Variable Technologies. On their desk are several Nodes, which are metallic, lipstick-sized cylinders jammed with an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer. There are options to add more sensors, including a infra-red thermometer. You can learn more at their Kickstarter page.
On the way out of the Metropolitan section, pay a visit to Nexiom’s booth to see the thinnest, lightest battery backup system for your gadgetry. It packs 50WH into a 22-ounce, 8×11 slab. This translates into an extra 3.5 hours for a laptop and 20 hours for a typical tablet. I’m told they’ll be distributing through SkyMall.
For the final leg of the tour, enter the Altman section and head over to Innvo labs, spun off from OEM development house Jetta, to pet the emotive robotic dogs. The pooches, still in beta, respond to touch and can convincingly simulate doggie expressions. Their marketing folks tell me that these CuddlePanions would make sense for older folks and other who want canine companionship without all the mess. I suspect these dog’s would also find that children with developmental disorders would also make good owners.
While at Innvo, play and and hold their more evolved Pleo’s, which are robotic, touch sensitive dinosaurs with advanced AI capabilities. I think the Pleo was purring when I stroked it. Pleo, by the way, can be purchased from the Innvo web site or from high-end retailer Hammacher Schlemmer.
This tour ends at long-time toy maker Pressman’s booth–they’re at the back of the Altman area. Pressman’s iPieces are iPad board games that require a special conductive plastic playing piece. The apps are free, the pieces are $12.99.
I tried out the iPieces air hockey game, and unlike my dreamy experience at Leap, I am pleased to report that I had no trouble controlling the virtual puck using the, ahem, iPiece totem.
Which reminds me: wouldn’t it be great to see Inception on a 3D TV?