“Eureka!” scientists used to shout – at least in the movies – when landing on a great discovery. At last week’s giant CES tech show in Las Vegas, some of the most interesting breakthroughs were flying off the tables in Eureka Park – a jam-packed exhibit zone for start-ups.
The start-up gathering is now in its sixth year, and more than 1,100 exhibitors have raised $1 billion in funding at past events. This time, more than 600 global hopefuls were on hand, the most ever, with an especially large contingent from France, where tech start-ups are government supported, and Israel.
Wear It Well: Monitoring devices that help women get pregnant have been multiplying. But this year, the guys are getting a boost from Spartan, a marketer of Paris-designed boxer briefs lined with antibacterial silver fibers.
“The silver functions as an electromagnetic shielding to block over 99 percent of the radiation put out by mobile phones pocketed close to the wearer’s privates,” claimed cofounder/CEO Arthur Menard. “A famous study from the Cleveland Clinic found that guys who carry a phone in their pants for at least four hours a day have a 50 percent decrease in sperm count and a lower quality of sperm, in terms of speed and lifespan.”
The potential link between phone radiation and testicular cancer is another sore subject researchers are examining, he added. The boxers felt soft to the touch. They can be washed 300 times without losing efficacy, it’s claimed, and cost $35 to $45 a pair at www.spartanunderwear.com.
Also from France comes the first collection of connected clothes and accessories for women from Spinali Design. To smarten the jeans ($115), two discretely buzzing activators are sewn into the left and right sides of the waist band. The vibrations keep you walking the right way when linked with a compatible mapping app, and also alert discreetly that incoming mobile call from Mr. Right (or Wrong.) Spinal Design’s smart bikinis – called Neviano – carry a customized sensor that reminds when it’s time to reapply more sunscreen.
Pillow Talk: Put on one of the special vests being developed by In&motion and you’ll be skiing, biking, or riding horses with more confidence. You still may take a serious spill. But if it happens, an air bag inside the vest has an internal “brain” and sensors that anticipate impact and inflate the cushion as needed.
Motorcyclists should rejoice at the debut of Cosmo Connected, a magnetically attached “brake light” for the back of your helmet. It offers an eye-level warning for the car behind that you’re slowing down. Also connects to a geo-location app to alert emergency services and family of an accident. Coming in June at $99.
Thumbs Up: Bixi is a small disc that enables “touch free” control of apps and devices. A simple gesture (and onboard machine language skills) activates the Bixi’s optical detector to wirelessly trigger music sources, cooking devices, and smart lights, answer calls, and send a preset SMS message. Bixi uses Bluetooth low energy 4.1 signaling, runs on a battery for a month between recharging. Normally $99, now $69 through Sunday here.
Power Broker: Few have the pocket space to tote a clunky phone charger and connecting cable. The Kado Wallet is something else: a mini-charger that’s stashable with credit cards. It’s 0.2 inch “thick” with an on-board two-foot rechargeable cable and fast 2.1 A charging mode. Goes on sale this summer for $50 and works with USB Type-C, Apple Lightening or Micro-USB linked devices.
Still buying that media “lie” that pollution is dangerous to your health and the planet? Plume Labs presented Flow, billed as “the first smart mobile air quality tracker to help us understand, monitor and lower exposure to air pollution, both indoors and on the go.”
Clipping to a bag, bike, or stroller, this cute thing has warning lights, and a companion app tracks particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide, ozone, volatile organic compounds, temperature, and humidity. Developed with researchers at France’s CNRS-Lisa and Imperial College London. Price/availability TBA. A free, Philly-tracking Plume Air Report app is here.
Tech for Tots: Even a 10-month-old infant can pick music to hear with Jooki, an adorable WiFi speaker that’s triggered to start a preloaded play list, song, or story when the child places a specific figurine or token in the landing spot on top. Think Skylanders (or Amiibo) meets Sonos. $199 here.
Long-distance loved ones can make a tactile, physical connection if each has the Parihug – the electronically connected teddy bear. Spotted at the Case Western Reserve University innovators zone.
Traffic Builder: Nothing else clogged the Eureka Park aisles like kino-mo, a spinning LED-fired light projector that makes two-foot-wide hologram-like objects seem to float in midair. First edition units costs over $2,000 each.
Singing in the Rain: A color-spackled, translucent vinyl Oombrealla is as chic as a pair of Wellies but smarter – capable of urging (via a phone app) to “take me along” when sensing inclement weather. Also warns if you accidentally leave it behind. Launches in March for $80.