CES 2015 live updates: Window-cleaning bot, electric skateboard and drones
Jan 06, 2015 | 10:17 PM
The big deal at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show is the “Internet of Things”: consumer goods — such as tennis rackets and pet food dispensers — that can connect to the Internet. Nine hundred Internet of Things exhibitors are showcasing their wares in Las Vegas this week, the largest-ever such display. Which products and services will be hits? Tech analysts say the successful ones will not only provide information but also recommend new behavior.
Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer for the United States, spoke at CES about how the histories of women in technology are being lost because of an unconscious bias. Women are being erased from the media we consume - they're absent from films about the histories of technology companies, they're absent from television shows about science and math - and it's sending the wrong message about women in technology.
That the online release of "The Interview" worked out well for Sony was the biggest learning moment in the last few months for Christy Tanner, a CBS Interactive Media Group senior vice president and general manager.
Speaking at a panel at CES, she said it was "remarkable" that consumers navigated through all the confusion about how the controversial film would be released.
"It shows consumers are willing to go many different paths to get the content they are interested in," Tanner said.
Bedtime routines have gotten a bit techier. Sleep Number unveiled today its SleepIQKids bed. The head is elevated to encourage bedside reading and help clear nighttime stuffy noses. Underneath the bed, there's a built-in nightlight that illuminates when they are out of bed and shuts off when they lie down. Parents can remotely turn off the lights using the app.
To help get the kids into bed in the first place, there are age-appropriate rewards for routine -- stars for brushing teeth and reading.
As an added bonus, the app sports a monster scanner (and squasher) for the little ones on high alert in the middle of the night.
It will be available later this year starting at about $1,000.
Like Google’s Nexus Player, Forge TV hooks up to the television and allows users to download mobile games and other apps such as Netflix and Food Network. But Forge TV also will display computer games on a TV screen when both devices are connected to the same home network. Razer built a laptop keyboard, mouse and mousepad to control the games when played on a couch.
The $99 Forge TV is expected to go on sale sometime in the next couple of months. Razer, which after a recent investment from Intel Capital is reportedly worth $1 billion, has built a booming business selling gaming-related computer accessories. But as the definition of “gamer” expands to include people who toy away at more casual games such as “Angry Birds,” Razer is branching out to new screens and audiences.
The growth of so-called phablets has hurt sales of tablets, according to mobile industry analysts. But survey results released Tuesday at CES by Frank N. Magid Associates about usage and ownership of phablets suggests the devices are working out great for content creators and app makers. The most popular phablets include the Apple iPhone 6 Plus, the Samsung Galaxy S5, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and the Google Nexus 6.
"We're finding the super-smartphone consumer, or the most premium segment, is moving toward phablets," said Magid researcher Andrew Hare. "People who want the best experience on their phones are okay moving toward these."
Phablet owners are more likely to watch video, stream live TV through apps and shop on their smartphones than users of devices with smaller screen sizes.
About 40% of phablet users say they watch video on their smartphone daily compared to 29% for others. There’s similar gaps for shopping and streaming live TV content. Phablet users also said they are slightly more regular users of fitness, travel and productivity apps. The Magid survey found phablets users tend to have higher incomes and mostly fall into the age range of 25 years old to 44 years old.
Hare said he expects that as appmakers improve the shopping experience on phablets, many consumers may start questioning the need for laptops, desktops and tablets.
"Phablets don't spell doom and gloom by any means for everything else, but this could become an ideal factor and we have to ask is this the extent of what most people need?" Hare said. "Otherwise, what does the next iteration of tablets look like?"
FLIR 2, or forward looking infrared camera, will be available this spring for $249.
The iPhone compatible attachment allows users to view the world thermally. FLIR representatives say the attachment is perfect for contractors, families, outdoor enthusiasts and more. The FLIR even allows users to take a front facing "thermie" or thermal selfie.
The 2015 CES Innovation Award-winning Axxess CE Air2 floating Bluetooth speaker levitates over its base.
It's cool, but would you buy it?
Tech analysts said the Internet-connected products with staying power will not only provide information but also recommend new behavior. Products also benefit when they can adapt to events that have yet to happen. For instance, a new sprinkler system that connects to the Internet to find out when the next storm is on its way, and adjusts its watering output accordingly.
Binatone is looking to change the way you interact with Fido with its new smartphone for dogs.
The company’s Scout 500 collar features live video streaming and GPS tracking in case your dog escapes your yard. And you can tell your pooch to “sit” and “roll over” remotely with the device’s voice system.
“At Toyota, we believe that when good ideas are shared, great things can happen,” Bob Carter, senior vice president at Toyota. “The first generation hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, launched between 2015 and 2020, will be critical, requiring a concerted effort and unconventional collaboration.”
Toyota will make 5,680 patents available to automakers to build and sell their own fuel cell vehicles. Parts suppliers, energy companies and bus manufacturers can also use the patents, which remain royalty-free through 2020.
And 70 patents are directly related to hydrogen fueling stations, a move both Toyota and analysts say could spur the wider adoption of hydrogen electric vehicles.
The announcement echoes a similar move by electric car maker Tesla in 2014, when Chief Executive Elon Musk made Tesla patents available to all, hoping to spur innovation in the electric vehicle world (and, perhaps, to draw publicity.)
Now that it's established that consumers have no problem watching shows, movies, games or anything else on their smartphones and tablets, content owners want to know more about the context of that viewing.
As it turns out, some of the big places for watching National Football League highlights on mobile are hospital waiting rooms and supermarket lines.
“That just wasn't something we had thought of,” Tyler Slocum, head of mobile product for the NFL, said at a discussion Monday. The insight came from a survey of fans.
Knowing when, where and why a consumer is choosing to view something on a tiny screen could help content providers improve those experiences and their revenue-generating opportunities.
“For us, it's about how do we bring content to the forefront that matters to folks,” Slocum said.
Discerning where viewers are located and distributing parceled-out content to them is becoming easier because of some of the technology being showecased at CES this week, including mobile beacons that can track when someone enters a certain location.
Yes, according to Leo Rodgers, a senior vice president at Universal Music Group.
“The music revenue pie is the same size,” he said at one of several “Digital Hollywood” panel discussions Monday. “The slices have just shifted a bit.”
Rodgers said going on tour is the big revenue generator for musicians as the broadening slate of streaming music cuts away at sales of pricey physical albums and digital downloads. He encouraged young acts to jump into a van and hit the road rather than focus on building social media fan bases alone.
But touring isn't the only way for young artists to get their names out there. At a separate discussion, Sony Music Vice President Brad Spahr said he's found success distributing singles created by emerging artists through a mobile game Sony Music published called “Pinball Rocks HD.” The game draws in thousands of users who can then be pushed to listen to new music in a “fun and engaging way,” Spahr said.
“We look at gaming as a particular area of interest,” he said. “The repeatability of games creates repeatability of music and hopefully turns players into fans.”
Samsung announced that a sweeping coalition of leading Hollywood studios, consumer electronics brands and content distributors are teaming up to support new video entertainment technologies.
Samsung said that the UHD Alliance is “focused on helping consumers benefit from a seamless, integrated and high-quality Ultra HD ecosystem from end-to-end” and that premium Ultra HD content and devices will be clearly identified so consumers can easily recognize them in stores.
Companies including DirecTV, Dolby, LG, Netflix, Panasonic, Sharp, the Walt Disney Studios, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros. Entertainment are participating.
Hoping to attract more customers by offering less TV, Dish Network executives announced Monday that they will soon launch a slimmed-down -- OK, emaciated -- online TV service for $20 a month.
Dubbed Sling TV, it marks the first time that a major company will offer a multichannel video service without the benefit of its own distribution system. Cable and phone companies transmit their television services through their own wires, and Dish and DirecTV use their own satellites. Sling TV, however, will piggyback onto the networks owned by Internet service providers and mobile phone operators.
Google unveiled Google Cast for audio on Monday, a new service that streams music to home audio players via smartphones.
The audio service uses the same technology behind Chromecast, a small device that plugs into televisions and lets people access digital programs such as YouTube and Netflix. With Cast, people choose a home speaker with the same embedded technology and use their phone to send music to it.
The launch of Google Cast pits Google against Apple’s AirPlay, which has been able to stream audio and other content wirelessly from Apple’s mobile devices to Apple TV and other AirPlay-enabled devices. It also will compete against the popular Sonos audio systems.
This year's International Consumer Electronics Show focuses less on the new and more on the improved.
The advancements include better integrated and more fashionable wearable devices; cheaper 3-D printers and ultra-high-definition televisions; upgraded phablets (phone-tablet hybrids); new uses for virtual reality; and self-driving cars that will seamlessly connect with your smartphone.
The important question for developers at the Consumer Electronics Show today is not whether they can digitize a product, but whether they should, said Shawn DuBravac, chief economist of the Consumer Electronics Assn., which organizes CES.
"We have for a long time come to CES to see what's technologically possible, what's technologically feasible," DuBravac told a crowd of reporters at Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino. "But we're now shifting, and no longer is the focus on what technologically can be done, it's what is technologically meaningful."
With so many competing Internet-connected products vying for attention, many ultimately will fail.