Magic at CES

Magic at CES
The Nikon 360 Project booth at CES had attendees leaping to get a good picture.

At the far end of a hall in Sands Expo, a crowd gathered around a booth filled with little signs, whose main attraction seemed to be a boxy aluminium-clad machine that was humming almost inaudibly.

All eyes were on a woman at a table, who was covertly handing out samples of beer produced by the square wonder.

You may not have heard of the Pico Brew Zymatic automated all-in-one home brewing machine, but at least 866 people have.

In 2013, they pledged US$661,026 (S$882,788) towards the construction of the device on Kickstarter, turning one entrepreneur's dream into a reality.

In the same hall was Mr Luke Leafgren, whose claim to fame are three pieces of wood which can be put together to form the StandStand portable standing desk.

He found 1,836 backers (12 are Singaporean, he said) who raised the US$118,544 to turn his project into a business.

The Future Robot is a home interactive robot

StandStand and the Pico Brew Zymatic are but two of the projects that got started on crowdfunding services such as KickStarter and IndieGogo, then, found their way to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015 in Las Vegas.

Most of the products unveiled at this year's CES are already familiar to many consumers.

As brands such as Haier moved on to offer curved TV screens, companies such as Samsung, LG, Dell and Hewlett Packard announced a wave of curved monitors that can be stacked and placed side by side to provide a more immersive viewing experience.

With most brands already offering smart TVs, Sony, Philips and Sharp have chosen to make Android their operating system of choice for some upcoming models, rather than develop their own operating systems.

LG will continue with its webOS software, while Samsung will use its own Tizen software to power its smart TVs.

On the wearable technology front, companies have started to look beyond the predictable genre of fitness trackers and smartwatches.

Weenect and heroO are making GPS devices which offer parents real-time tracking of their children's whereabouts via an app. Weenect also has a GPS collar for pets.

Singapore's own Zensorium will follow up on its Tinke biosensor with the Being, a smartwatch that tracks a user's mood, as well as his fitness.

The Ring Hub is not a Tolkien fan club but a device that works with the Ring, a rather bulky ring-like gadget for controlling smart TVs. Soon, its makers said, you will also be able to control smart devices around the home, with a twitch of the ring finger.

Then there is the Belty. This smartbelt, which connects to your phone, loosens when you sit down and tightens up when you stand, all in the name of keeping tabs on your belly, to remind you to lose weight.

There were, of course, the expected upgrades of existing products and features. Samsung and LG are moving into making TV sets using quantum dots or nanocrystals.

These microscopic lighting elements, being more precise and efficient, produce better contrast and colours in the final image.

Quantum dot TVs cost less to produce than Oled ones, and are expected to cost less, though brands are mum on pricing details.

Rather than pushing users to buy a special stylus, Lenovo introduced AnyPen to its Yoga Tablet 2 device, which lets users write and draw on the screen with almost anything - from a needle, scissors or chopsticks to even a carrot. 

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