I didn’t get a chance to attend this in 2015, but going forward I’m going to try to make ShowStoppers LaunchIt an annual event. ShowStoppers LaunchIt is dedicated to the (worthy) startups of CES, and gives an executive from each of these companies five minutes (and it’s a strict five) for an elevator pitch of their product or company. In addition to providing newcomers a chance at publicity they might not otherwise have, it allows journalists to get a feel for where investment is being made and what trends we should expect to see consumer electronics during the show and over the course of 2016. Last year the trend was wearables; this year is split between virtual reality and smart home.
• On the smart home side, French startup Sevenhugs overviewed its Smart Remote at ShowStoppers LauncIt, a contextual remote control that uses precision indoor location technology for managing and operating a range of connected devices, from Philips Hue lightbulbs to Sonos speakers to Nest thermostats. The remote comes with three connected sockets that allow the remote to orient itself within the smart home environment, and a dynamic display changes based on the appliance being controlled. In one example, CEO Simon Tchedikian even showed how the remote will display the outside temperature after simply being pointed toward a window. The company has also developed an open SDK. Learn more at http://sevenhugs.com.
• Bluemint Labs is leveraging sensing technology from STMicro in their fully contactless gesture recognition device for home automation, Bixi. The always-on box, pictured below, pairs with mobile devices via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to enable hands-free operation around the house. To see Bixi in action, check out http://bixi.io.
• Swedish company Flic pitched its wireless smart button for home automation, which can be programmed through an app. One click: Lights on. Click two: Fireplace on. Click three: Turn up the volume. Also with an SDK and a linux implementation expected in Q1, the Flic achieves its keep-it-simple-stupid programming by integrating with other iOS and Android apps. Their most recent success? Click-to-order Domino’s pizza.
Of the 15 or so pitches I counted at ShowStoppers LaunchIt, no less than four were virtual reality platforms or accessories, including a Bluetooth-enabled sensor system for full-body VR on Android or iOS platforms; VR headsets that provide a 120 ∫ field of view; the equivalent of a joystick for your feet from 3DRudder that allows user to navigate virtual environments without walking into real walls; and a stationary exercise bike integrated with wireless sensors and compatible with Oculus Rift, PlayStationVR, and HTC Vive intended to spice up your workout routine.
And the winner is…
Despite the emphasis on smart home and virtual reality products at Showstoppers, however, the judges selected CleverPet, a gaming hub for dogs that rewards players with kibble treats. Based on pattern matching, memory, and logic exercises, the company hopes its platform will entertain millions of lonely pets, citing the mantra, “A dog with a job is a happy dog.”
As an honorable mention with absolutely no relevance to embedded computing I have to direct you to Bartesian, a company out of Waterloo, Canada that purports to be the Keurig of cocktails. Unfortunately, alcohol is not included.