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The Latest at CES 2017: Dell keyboard, smart hairbrush and a lot more

CES, the world’s largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 8 and features 3,800 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to more than 165,000 attendees

tech Updated: Jan 06, 2017 18:59 IST
Attendees participate in a Samsung virtual reality ride at CES 2017 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Attendees participate in a Samsung virtual reality ride at CES 2017 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. (AFP)

CES or in expanded form -- Consumer Electrronics Show -- this year has seen a lot of smart gadgets come to fore that include new keyboards, smart hairbrushes, toasters and a lot more. Here are a few of them:

L’Oreal smart hairbrush

Beauty brands L’Oreal and Karastase want to make bad hair days a thing of the past.

The two companies teamed up with tech company Withings on a Hair Coach brush that uses a microphone, gyroscope and other sensors to monitor how fast and how hard a person is brushing.

An accompanying app recommends how to brush for optimal quality and minimal breakage and split ends. It can also take into account hair-influencing factors like heat or humidity and even discern if hair is wet or dry.

The “smart brush” has been garnering buzz at the CES tech show in Las Vegas.

Vincent Nida, worldwide general manager at Paris-based Kerastase, says one of the top beauty queries online is consistently about taking better care of your hair.

The battery-powered brush starts collecting data when a user begins brushing. The smarts may seem like overkill considering the price of the brush — $200. By contrast, Amazon sells brushes for as little as $1.

But Nida says you’re getting a high-quality brush “even if you don’t have batteries or you don’t connect it to your cell phone.”

The Hair Coach brush is due out in mid-2017.

Dell keyboards

Who needs a keyboard? Dell is introducing a new way to interact with your computer.

The Dell Canvas 27 is a 27-inch glass surface that sits flat on a desk in front of a monitor. The touch surface is where a keyboard would normally be. Various widgets are available to manipulate items on the monitor. The Canvas also comes with a pen for sketching and creating.

Dell envisions people using the device to edit photos and video, work on music and even work with financial tables. The goal is to replace clutter generally found on a desk. Instead of working with paper on a desk, just use the touch surface.

The device launches in the spring and is expected to cost less than $2,000 — or around $3,000 with the monitor included.

Lenovo has a similar concept in last fall’s Yoga Book. It’s a laptop that replaces the keyboard with a touch screen for both typing and doodling. But the screen is smaller, measuring 10 inches diagonally.

Dell announced the Canvas at the CES gadget show on Thursday. Tom Holland, star of “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” also stopped by to introduce two Dell products — a tablet and a gaming laptop — that will appear in the movie.

Smartphones and molecular physics

Smartphones can do almost anything, but how about molecular physics?

An Israeli startup has embedded a molecular sensor called Scio in a new smartphone that can analyze any material — whether that’s the nutritional content of an apple or a person’s body fat.

Consumer Physics’ scanners use infrared light to analyze molecular structure. The startup has been developing them for a few years, but this is the first time it’s embedded in a mobile device — one from Chinese phone manufacturer Changhong.

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge smartphone is on display at the Samsung booth during CES 2017 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (AFP)

Is that a little too much science to carry around in your pocket?

Consumer Physics CEO Dror Sharon says knowledge is power. He explains, “When we go out and buy stuff, eat stuff, drink stuff, we think we know what’s in there, but we have no clue.”

Pricing and availability for the phone will be announced Friday at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas.

Apple apps

Apple’s app store closed 2016 with 2.2 million apps, an increase of 20 percent from 2015.

Apple says New Year’s Day 2017 was the biggest day ever for app store purchases — people bought nearly $240 million of stuff in the digital marketplace.

Nintendo’s “Super Mario Run” was the most downloaded app worldwide on both Christmas and New Year’s Day. The app is free to download, but it costs a whopping $10 to play the full version.

The SkinScopy smart phone skin analyser from iOB (Internet of Beauty) Labs, connected to a smart phone, is displayed during the 2017 Consumer Electronic Show (CES) at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. (AFP)

In what should surprise no one, “Pokemon Go” was the year’s most popular app. The game peaked over the summer, when hordes of people prowled real-life locations to catch digital pocket monsters through its innovative augmented reality interface.

Other popular apps included Sweat With Kayla, a workout app, and Procreate, a painting and sketching app.

The milestones were announced as the CES gadget show in Las Vegas formally opened, though Apple has no official presence there.

Intel

Intel thinks the future of virtual reality is skydiving in the desert, watching live sports from a ringside seat and cringing as zombies attack — all powered by Intel chips.

Wednesday’s demo featured leather chairs, Oculus sensors and headsets — and a barf bag, signaling this was not an ordinary press conference.

One demo was a live feed from a 360-degree camera attached to a drone inspecting solar panels in a desert. Intel was showing how the technology could be used in a work environment. A more exciting live feed showed a college basketball game between Butler and Villanova.

Signs of Hisense and Intel are seen during CES 2017 at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 5, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (AFP)

Travel experiences took viewers to a waterfall scene in Vietnam and a skydiving experience in the Moab Valley. A trailer for “Arizona Sunshine,” a VR game, made viewers jump as zombies lunged for them. No one — noticeably — made use of the barf bags.

CEO Brian Krzanich acknowledges that some people are questioning whether VR is going anywhere. He adds, “I hope these experiences give you a taste of where it’s going.”

The CES gadget show in Las Vegas formally opens Thursday after two days of media previews.

Amazon

Amazon doesn’t have an official presence at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas but its Alexa voice control software seems to be everywhere.

Whirlpool is adding Alexa voice control to its suite of smart-home appliances, including a stove and refrigerator. With that capability, someone can instruct the oven to pre-heat to 400 degrees by speaking a command to an Alexa-enabled device, such as Amazon’s Echo speaker.

Jason Mathew, senior director of global connected strategy for Whirlpool, says voice is “the most natural way to interact with a product.”

Vice President of Amazon Alexa Steve Rabuchin speaks during a keynote address by CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group Richard Yu (not pictured) delivers a keynote address at CES 2017 at The Venetian Las Vegas. (AFP)

Other gadgets that include Alexa: Sensory and OnVocal are both launching headphones that incorporate Alexa. Simplehuman is announcing a voice-activated trash can. And GE Lighting is launching a table lamp that includes Alexa software.

Amazon has an edge on the market for now because its software has been out longer, but Google’s and Apple’s systems are catching up. Mathew says “Amazon is the most mature, but we expect to offer other options in the future.”