The first mini-event at the International Consumer Electronics Show is like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re going to find inside. This year, dozens of smaller companies — with a few big names here and there — vied for attention on Sunday evening and three mobile related products caught my eye.
Two weeks of power without an outlet
First up was a fuel-cell from Liliputian Systems that provides two weeks of mobile device power. The Nectar, which will be sold exclusively at Brookstone, costs $299, so it isn’t cheap. After 14 days of juice, a small tubular fuel cell is removed and replaced with a new one.
Each refill costs $9.95, so again, this isn’t a device that will save you money over an electric outlet. The benefit, however, is that you won’t need an outlet for your smartphone because each fuel cell provides 55000 mWh of power. According to the company, the “secret power sauce” is a combination of high-energy butane fuel and high-efficiency solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs).
Getting the health bug
I expect a large number of health gadgets at this year’s CES and already found one in the Fitbug. The tracking system uses an accelerometer to track movement and Bluetooth to send data to the supporting app. The $50 wearable Fitbug Orb is modular, however, so it can be worn in different settings with ease; say in a watchband or on a clip.
The Orb also doubles as a sleep monitor. The company also showed off a companion body scale and blood pressure sleeve, both of which use Bluetooth 4.0 to sync data to a Fitbug account.
You don’t know Jak!
Sharing media from a smartphone isn’t as difficult as it used to be, but it’s still not as seamless as it should be. Bcoda thinks it has a better answer in the Jak multipurpose dongle. The device looks like a small USB flash drive and inside is a small Wi-Fi radio and some custom software. Using a companion mobile app — Android only for now — you can stream music or video from your phone to any media device that has a USB port. Think car stereos, television sets, home stereo systems or a computer.
Bcoda had an unrelated, yet interesting second product as well. We’ve all seen Bluetooth hands-free solutions for cars. I haven’t seen any that actually double as a Bluetooth handset, however. Bcoda’s version connects to a car visor with a removable clip so you can you take it with you. It’s a standard Bluetooth handsfree unit at that point… but with a twist. Press a button on the side and the unit acts like a transitional handset, ensuring some privacy in the conversation.