Need to know just what’s in your food? Want a robot to cook your dinner? Products that can do both of these things were among those on display at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The massive trade show is a chance for companies making almost anything technology-related to show their stuff. Thousands of companies had exhibits at this year’s show, and although some products may never become commercially available, some are likely to be popping up in storefronts soon. Here are seven which, if they make it to market, could improve your life.
1. What’s in your food?
SCiO is a pocket molecular sensor. Shine its little light on your food (or really most anything) and it will send your smartphone data about what’s in it. In the case of food, it can tell you about the quantity of calories, sugar, protein and other factors. It only really works on single objects, so while it could tell you the chemical makeup of each ingredient in a salad, it can’t tell you about the entire salad in one go. The sensor could be useful for dieters, amusing for amateur chemistry buffs and potentially life-saving for people with special dietary concerns, such as diabetics. The sensor itself costs $249, and you’ll need a smartphone app with a monthly subscription. They hope to begin shipping later this year.
2. Robot chef
No, it’s not Rosie from the Jetsons. OneCook actually looks more like a bread machine or rice cooker — but this real-world robot will cook your dinner for you. The company sends you a pack containing the ingredients, and you download an app with recipes for the device. Insert everything, and let the machine do its thing. It’s not yet available, and the company is setting the price range at $200 to $400, just for the robot. The food will be extra. They may offer pre-orders at a reduced price.
3. Wearable UV sensor
L’Oreal, the cosmetics company, introduced a stretchy sensor patch (think stylish little Band-Aid) you wear on your skin that measures the amount of ultraviolet radiation to which you’ve been exposed. The sensor then changes colors depending on the amount of UV. Then, you use a smartphone app that helps analyze the patch after the color change. It’s unclear if you can smear your sunscreen over the patch, to see how well it’s working. No word on pricing, but it may be available later this year.
4. Personal drone/flying car
Place this one firmly in the realm of products that might not happen. Chinese company Ehang is developing a drone large and powerful enough to carry a person. Riders don’t drive the vehicle. Instead, they punch in the destination coordinates, have a seat in the drone, and sit back while they’re delivered. Current specifications say the all-electric vehicle can fly for about 24 minutes at speeds of 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph) with a maximum load of about 100 kilograms (about 220 pounds) The personal drone still has some problems to overcome, like getting FAA approval. There’s no word about cost or when it might show up. Until then, check out the company’s website, and dream of how fast your commute could be when you fly over the traffic.
5. High-tech, heated shoes
French company Zhor-tech rolled out shoes with a step counter, which they say can measure your activity far more accurately than a fitness tracker. But that’s not all it offered with this offering in the world of wearable tech. The shoes — billed as the “first connected footwear technology” — come with a built-in heater, controllable via smartphone app, that lets you warm your tootsies. They also include technologies that can use footwear to help with early diagnosis of diabetes or help people with poor circulation. The $450 shoes should be available later this year, and the English translations on their website are mildly amusing.
6. Wearable translator
This one is great for travelers, or at least has the potential to be. The Ili translator is a small white box you wear on a cord around your neck. It’s about the size of a small remote control with built-in microphone and speakers. You say whatever you like, and the device will repeat it back in another language. It also works the other way, allowing you to understand what others are saying. It has an internal memory of about 50,000 words, so it doesn’t require Wi-Fi or a phone connection of any sort. The first models will only work for English, Chinese and Japanese, though there are plans to release versions that support French, Thai, Korean, Spanish, Italian and Arabic. Initial projections say it should cost around $200 and be available this spring.
7. An alarm clock, effective but gentle
Everyone hates the sound of the alarm clock in the morning. The answer, according to Sensorwake, is to engage a different sense. The Sensorwake alarm clock releases a burst of smell to rouse you from sleep. The scent comes in replaceable pods (kind of like a plug-in air freshener) in a variety of smells — croissant, chocolate, espresso or seaside, among others. And just in case the smell isn’t enough, there’s a backup alarm that uses a more traditional beep. The $109 clock should be available by summer.
What day-to-day problem would you like technology to address? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.