The Consumer Electronics Show is widely known as the place where Samsung, Intel, and many other large companies make headline news. The televisions get bigger and crisper each year. The phones get smaller and more useful. However, at CES last week in Las Vegas, several smaller companies made a big splash, ready to take on monoliths like Google and even Apple by creating innovative new products. Here are the tech start-ups I spotted there that I plan to keep watching:

1. Zepp Labs

I like how this start-up in Los Gatos, California, is willing to take on one of the biggest companies in tech. At CES, Sony announced a new sensor to track your tennis game. Zepp has a similar offering: a small sensor that clips onto the racket to track swings, power level, shot style, spin, and your time on the court. The company also announced a new tracker for basketball. Previously, the company had developed a golf glove sensor.

2. MiiPC

This startup intends to take on HP, which is no small task. Its computer runs the Android operating system in a palm-sized mini PC. The basic concept is similar to the recently announced HP Slate Pro AIO PC. By using Android, the computer starts quickly and runs mobile apps and a Web browser faster than Windows. Yet, you can use one in the office for real productivity.

3. Airtame

Based in Denmark, this startup has a decided cool factor. Several 20-somethings showed off their product as a competitor to Intel WiDi. The Airtame adapter can stream whatever is on your screen to an HDTV across the room--ideal for meetings and video demos.

4. GlassUP

Here's one straight out of "Back To The Future." The two founders of GlassUP had an early prototype at their booth. Wires and transistors looked like they were barely connected to a set of goggles. (The founders were not wearing lab coats, thankfully.) In my demo, a picture of Marilyn Monroe hovered over my field of view, similar to how Google Glass works. Hopefully, they can work out the kinks sometime this year.

5. ClearView Clio

Amazingly clear audio is just one selling point for this new speaker, created by a startup based outside of Boston. A clear plastic panel uses a transducer to emanate audio from both sides of the material. In my tests, the audio sounded crisp even in a crowded booth. Sure, taking on every speaker company on the planet, including Sony, Klipsch, and Boston Acoustics, will be a major--but not impossible--challenge.

Published on: Jan 14, 2014