It's that time of year again. The annual CES gadget fest is upon us. To get the lowdown, I got in early over the weekend and yesterday, several companies showed off their wares at press conferences and private events. Here are a few highlights.
1. Plantronics Headset Concept
This amazing demo showed how the future workplace could make us more productive. Using a prototype version of the Plantronics Voyager Legend headset, which is normally used for making calls at your desk on mobile, a company rep demonstrated how the device can track your steps during the day, senses if it has fallen off your ear (or if you have fallen), and even sense gestures like a head-shake to decline an incoming call. It's like Google Glass for frequent dialers.
2. Linksys WRT1900AC Router
I normally don't get excited about routers, but this new WRT1900AC model--fresh off Belkin's acquisition of Linksys (which was part of Cisco for many years)--has four antennas to help keep a Wi-Fi signal in the office flowing smoothly. It also has a high-speed connection for a storage drive, a big fan to make sure the router doesn't overheat, and an old-school techie design.
Corning popped the cork on a new version of Gorilla Glass (their popular touchscreen product used on many smartphones)--to the delight of germaphobes everywhere. Known as Antimicrobial Gorilla Glass, the glass surface is protected from harmful agents like algae, mold, mildew, fungi, and bacteria that can build up when multiple employees touch the screen. One of the first products to use it will be Steelcase RoomWizard, which is a touchscreen that lets you book meetings in a conference room.
4. EnerPlex Surfr
Solar-powered gadgets seem to pop up every year at CES--some are worthwhile, some are dorky. At a tech event, I spotted a new iPhone 5 case from EnerPlex that looked interesting. The panels are on the back so you can set your phone in a window sill during work and charge up in small amounts. The also case has a back-up battery for one full charge plus 25%.
A small start-up called Sverve caught my eye at a private event last night. After just one year, this social marketing firm has signed up 850 brands to use the app, which lets you track your social media interactions with more than 10,000 "influencers" (aka, bloggers and writers) on the Web. A brand new feature lets you track Pinterest sweepstakes.