By Dave Sebastian
BU News Service
LAS VEGAS — The doors to CES 2019 flung open Sunday evening for a media-only, first-hand look into tech products and trends at CES Unveiled at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. More than 180 companies showcased their latest and greatest in technology before the world’s largest consumer-technology conference opens Jan. 7.
Most of the trends spotlighted for this year were updates on current technology — such as 5G, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and self-driving cars which were all mentioned in the “Trends to Watch” presentation before the exhibition opened.
Steve Koenig, Ben Arnold and Lesley Rohrbaugh — all senior research leaders at the Consumer Technology Association, which organizes CES — presented industry trends before reporters and industry analysts.
The uniting trend, CTA speakers said, involves the rising clout of the interaction among devices. Movement of autonomous vehicles, digital health and resilient technologies are among the newer developments that are slated to succeed, they said.
On the floor, smart home appliances dominated the Unveiled exhibition, highlighting the interconnectivity of devices in products like security cameras and systems and air detection monitors. Here are some products that caught our eye:
Send an ultra-encrypted text with Pundi X’s blockchain phone — no carriers required
When you send a picture on Facebook Messenger, you are essentially uploading a picture into Facebook’s server, putting it in Facebook’s custody. Singapore-based startup Pundi X wants to keep things private between the message’s sender and recipient, with no third party involved. The answer? XPhone, a blockchain phone.
XPhone not only encrypts data through blockchain, a ledger of individual records linked together, but it also allows its user to make phone calls, send text messages and share data through Function X, a blockchain developed by Pundi X.
“There’s no centralized server in between,” Peko Wan, vice president of Pundi X, told BU News Service. “All the records [are kept] in the nodes.”
Pundi X announced its development of XPhone in October 2018, and it is set to enter the market this fall, Wan said.
The startup has also developed payment systems for cryptocurrency. Its cryptocurrency transaction device, XPOS, is used in 25 countries and offers transactions in cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, Ethereum, Binance and Pundi X’s own token, Wan said. Pundi X also maintains XWallet, an app that enables payments in cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin, as well as other cryptocurrencies, has been synonymous with volatility, slumping below $4,000 in late November 2018 after rocketing to a record high of almost $20,000 in December 2017. Despite the cryptocurrency bear market, Pundi X’s transaction services remain popular in countries experiencing roller-coaster waves of currency volatility, such as Venezuela, which experienced hyperinflation.
No more hand-folding your clothes with FoldiMate
If doing laundry feels taxing, a laundry-folding machine may help you stave off your procrastination. FoldiMate, the California-based startup, featured a prototype of its laundry-folder at CES Unveiled.
The machine, standing 49 inches tall and 23 inches wide, can fold 25 pieces of clothing in less than 5 minutes, Debbie Cohen-Abravanel, Foldimate’s chief marketing officer, told BU News Service. Unlike Foldimate’s earlier prototype that debuted at CES 2017, the new design can be plugged into any standard socket anywhere in the house.
Cohen-Abravanel said the machine, which was the company’s first working prototype showcased at CES, can fold any kind of fabric and adapt to its size. It is expected to enter the market in late 2019 at a target price of $1,000, Cohen-Abravanel said, citing difficulties in manufacturing.
“It’s not the same as a washer or a dryer,” Cohen-Abravanel said. “The technology’s more challenging, so it’s going to be challenging to manufacture.”
Stay safe on the street with App-Elles SOS bracelet
With a tap on the App-Elles SOS bracelet, one can send their trusted three people distress signals when facing a crisis situation, such as violence or harassment.
The bracelet is paired with an app on the owner’s phone, which starts recording audio and tracks the victim’s location. Trusted contacts can then call law enforcement, act on the information received through the App-Elles app from that of the victim and use the records as evidence in investigations.
“Our goal and mission is to end violence against girls and women,” Insaff El Hassini, App-Elles’ head of partnership, told BU News Service. “We have realized that in 2000 years, the human being [has] fun ways to send humans over the moon but didn’t find a way to stop violence against girls and women.”
The bracelet, developed by a French startup, retails at 24.92 euros ($29).
Get your hot water in seconds with Heatworks’ Duo Carafe kettle
Ever waited too long for a cup of tea as the water boils? With Heatworks’ battery-operated Duo Carafe, you can set your desired temperature for up to four cups of water and let it flow into the carafe. And there’s your boiled water.
Heatworks’s strategy: Don’t use metal to boil, Kebei Li, the industrial designer who worked with the Heatworks team, told BU News Service.
Water flows through the Duo Carafe’s graphite layers, which help water molecules move faster and transform the energy produced into heat, Li said. Heatworks has patented the technique as Ohmic Array Technology.
Cleaning Duo Carafe’s inner components would also not be an issue, Li said, as the kettle doesn’t use metal heating elements that can rust.
“You’re not heating water through another material; there’s no cleaning issue,” Li said. “In regular heating elements, you see things can accumulate on the surface, and you have to descale once in a while.”
The Duo Carafe will be available for pre-order next year. The South Carolina-based company has already released a similar water heater that costs $799.
Scan your wine label with Aveine’s aerator, get smoother wine
Does your Pinot Noir make your mouth dry? Aveine can fix the wine for you with its aerator, which will expose the wine to air so as to make its flavor “round,” Aveine spokesman Orna Bembaron told BU News Service.
The French startup’s aerator would calibrate the aeration process “instantly” based on information sent from a smartphone app regarding the specific type of wine being poured in, Bembaron said.
The process of wine aeration is normally done by pouring the drink into a carafe. The downside with carafes, however, is the uncertainty of how long a specific type of wine should be aerated.
The key to the aeration process lies i the cutting of tannin, a bitter-tasting substance, from the wine, Bembaron said.
Aveine, launched in July 2016 in Paris, plans to deliver its aerator to the market starting at $175 in March.