From Alan Duggan in Las Vegas
As usual, the winners of the annual “Best of Innovations” awards at International CES present a deliciously mixed bag of ideas and technologies, some of them destined for greatness and others… well, let’s just say that they seemed like a good idea at the time.
The clear winner (in my opinion, anyway) is the Touch Table PC from Moneual, honoured in the Computer Hardware and Components category. Intended for use in restaurants and cafes, it enables customers to not only browse menus and order food, but also to pay directly from the table. As Moneual tells it, the device is also suitable for public facilities such as hospitals, airports and hotels.
In the Digital Imaging category, Sony’s Cyber-shot RX1 emerged as a clear winner. Described as the world’s first full-frame compact digital camera, it features an advanced 35 mm full-frame 24,3 MP Exmor CMOS sensor and an exceptionally fast and bright Carl Zeiss T 35 mm f/2.0 fixed lens.
Winner of the Gaming Hardware and Accessories division was the S.T.R.I.K.E.7 Professional Gaming Keyboard by an outfit called Mad Catz. Designed for competitive gaming, the unique V.E.N.O.M. touch display keeps track of every operation of the PC, launching apps, macro commands, and more. Modular construction allows gamers to rearrange individual sections to suit their style.
Leading the headphones category was the IE800 in-ear canal headphones from Sennheiser, a very classy bit of tech described by the judges as “top of their class, possessing the most innovations per cubic millimetre”. Similarly high praise was earned by Bang & Olufsen’s BeoPlay A9, a digital loudspeaker that offers impressive and spacious stereo sound performance in one circular unit – interestingly, designed as a cool piece of furniture. It offers wireless streaming via AirPlay and DLNA, and “invisible”/intuitive operation.
Moving along to In-vehicle Accessories, we meet Sony’s XAV-701HD Smartphone Connected AV Receiver. With this MirrorLink-enabled A/V receiver, apps from your smartphone are presented on a 7- inch touchscreen display, allowing navigation connectivity, hands-free talk, and your personal music and video library, along with Bluetooth technology, connectivity to Pandora, HD Radio, and dual USB ports.
In the Personal Electronics category, the winner was the Apex HD+, Wi-Fi Snow Goggle from a company called Liquid Image, billed as the first snow goggle with full HD recording, built in Wi-Fi and a rotating camera lens. Wireless capabilities include live streaming to an iOS or Android device, file playback, remote control, and adjustment of camera settings.
Belkin’s WeMo baby was judged best in the Home Appliances category. Working with the (free) WeMo Baby smartphone app, it allows you to listen to your baby from anywhere. Upgrading to the premium app allows you to receive “cry notifications” as well as access your baby’s er… cry history. Caring parents, take note.
Winner of the Home Audio-Video Components section was Harman International Industries for its Harman/ Kardon BDS 577. This 3D Blu-ray Disc system has the same features as those built with separate components, including high fidelity amplifiers, without the clutter and cables. It adds built-in AirPlay, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and YouTube, plus support for a wireless subwoofer.
Greenwave Reality was honoured for its Connected Lighting Solution, which offers advanced control over residential lighting with fully-dimmable, wireless LED and CFL bulbs through an IP-enabled home lighting network, controllable from PCs, smartphones or a handheld remote. In the Software and Mobile Apps category, the winner was the 3DPCase by Sculpteo, described as the “ultimate iPhone case builder”. In essence, it’s the first app that allows you to customise, manufacture and order 3D-printed iPhone cases, courtesy of Cloud 3D printing.
Here’s something interesting: it’s called SpareOne, and it’s the brainchild of a firm called XPal Power Inc. Winner of the Technology for a Better World category, it’s the world’s only mobile phone powered by a single AA battery. Apparently is delivers up to 15 years of battery life when stored unused or 10 hours of talk time when in use. SpareOne is designed to be a lifeline in emergency situations, say its creators.
* That’s for starters. We’ll follow up with some more Best of Innovations winners a little later…