Every year, one of my favorite events at CES is thecompetition, where online and on-site participants vote for their favorite products. This year’s event showcased a wide variety of concepts, from new cameras and Wi-Fi systems for the home to a cycling helmet and even a home beer-making device.
For the competition, a set of judges determines the finalists from a group of new technology products before CES attendees, and then online voters choose their favorite. At CES, the voting took place at a standing-room-only session hosted by David Pogue of Yahoo Tech, with an applause meter recognizing the audience favorite. Both products are then crowned as the “Last Gadget Standing.” I’ve been a judge for years, along with a number of well-known tech journalists and analysts, and while I can’t say the competition accurately forecasts which products will sell well, it’s always a lot of fun.
This year, the live award went to the
The online award went to the Linksys
Other finalists included:
by Roli, a fun looking modular music-playing device that lets you make music on the fly by touching the surface and connecting the device to the firm’s free Noise iPhone app.
, a small Internet security camera that can be used inside or outside, via batteries or plugged in. It sells for $199.
Thelets you listen to your music, calls, or GPS navigation as you ride. What makes this different from other smart helmets is that it uses bone conduction technology so you can hear the sounds while leaving your ears open to hear what is happening around you. It also includes a wind-resistant microphone and is designed so you can talk to others in your cycling group. In the case of an emergency or an accident, a sensor in the helmet can detect such incidents and the device can immediately notify loved ones of your location. This lists at $200 and is available now.
is a camera designed for live streaming 360-degree VR content. This consists of 3 pairs of image sensors capable of producing 4K resolution at 30 frames per second which can be streamed through built-in Wi-Fi. The most interesting thing is that it can do the stitching and produce 3D content, viewable over Oculus or Samsung Gear, in real-time. At $999, this is aimed at those who do personal broadcasting and is expected to ship later this quarter.
Theteaches basic programming concepts to young children by having them put down colored tiles that control a robot. It’s a neat educational idea that should be available soon for $219.
Theaims to be a personal craft beer maker. You put in a pack of ingredients from one of 150 pre-packaged craft beers, most from well-regarded local breweries, and brew the beer, then ferment it in a small keg for about 5 days. It’s not the fastest way to get a beer, but it seems a much simpler solution than the larger, messier options that are currently available. Most importantly, you can “freestyle,” or create a personal recipe you like the most. It’s now shipping for $799.
Theis a router specifically designed for locations that are filled with competing Wi-Fi signals, like apartment buildings. I was intrigued by how this router uses additional bands to communicate with devices, which the company says should let it deliver faster speeds. It is out now for $179.
, an Internet security product from uQontrol, takes the “chip and pin” technology embedded in your credit and debit cards and puts it on a flash drive with its own processor to help make Internet shopping, banking, and other transactions, more secure. When you are ready to make a transaction, insert the key into a USB port and use its proprietary browser, which keeps all of your transaction data secure and separate from the computer. This is due out in March for $129. A future release should also work with phones and tablets using NFC and Bluetooth.
, a combination of an electronic doorbell and smart door lighting, is due out next week for $199.
Last year’s onstage winner, the—which was notable at the time for offering a real 360-degree camera equipped with eight different HD image sensors to create a 4K stereoscopic image—is now due to ship in March for $799. It still seems to offer a lot of camera for the money and is relatively small. I’m looking forward to trying one out, as well as several of the other gadgets, in the real world.
Michael J. Miller is chief information officer at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Miller, who was editor-in-chief of PC Magazine from 1991 to 2005, authors this blog for PC Magazine to share his thoughts on PC-related products. No investment advice is offered in this blog. All duties are disclaimed. Miller works separately for a private investment firm which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this blog, and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.