I'm at CES in Las Vegas this week, searching high and low for new gadgets, just-launched startups, and anything else that can help entrepreneurs get an edge. Here are a few highlights I found after attending a startup event on Sunday. Stay tuned for regular updates and keep an eye on my Twitter feed to catch any spur of the moment "finds" while I'm here.
1. Solar-Powered Activity Trackers
Talk about an opportunity for startups. Last year, I noted how there is a massive untapped market for companies to make gadgets specifically geared for women. It's a sad fact that many gadgets have a masculine look. Misfit, a cool Silicon Valley startup, announced today the new Swarovski Shine (no link yet), which is an activity and sleep tracker for women. The crystal necklace is not a cheap token, and the best feature for the violet jewel version is that it never needs charging--it draws power from the sun. It's the first "no charging" activity tracker. And, a sign of things to come--no more constant charging.
2. Smarthomes Without the Fuss
One early trend I'm seeing is that companies want to make the smarthome even smarter. Today, the technology tends to be a little complicated for the masses. D-Link showed how they have an entire strategy for the smarthome built around easier configuration and more obvious technology enhancements--light switches, cameras, and sensors that use the more common Wi-Fi standard most people know instead of Zigbee, which requires that each device in the home make a peer-to-peer connection and maintain that connection. The new SmartPlug DSP-W110 that controls lamps is a sign of things to come.
3. FIFO video recording
I already learned a new acronym at CES, although it's been around a while. D-Link also showed off a new security camera, the DCS-935L (no link yet), that uses FIFO (first in, first out) recording. It's pretty simple. In an office setting, you might use a high-end camera that records any activity over a 24-hour period, but you'll pay a monthly fee for the privilege. With the new camera, you can record ten clips per day for free. Each day, it starts over and replaces the "first" clip (and keeps clips two through ten). The trend here is lower cost video security and a larger trend of using tech innovations to cut costs.
4. Souped-Up Video Chat
I wasn't sure what to think of Personify at first. It's a startup that makes an alternative to Skype video chat. A talking head outline appears as an overlay on the screen, almost like you are giving a weather report in front of a green screen. You can have as many as ten people chatting, and the background is removed automatically. That means, you can wear a suit or a dress but tap into a videoconference from the beach. The trend is in figuring out how to make people connect over computers in a smoother, easier way.