After days in Las Vegas walking the show floors during CES 2017, I can honestly say that for every product that left me scratching my head about the practicality and price point, there was another just around the corner that was innovative in the best way. This list of 15 products includes some of the best educational and STEM learning I saw at the show along with a game changing phone from an up and coming company making their way into the U.S. market, a more budget friendly action camera that’s packed with features and challenging a well-known competitor, and must-have accessories for your digital lifestyle. Some are currently available while others have, or will, launch on Kickstarter soon. But just know if these products aren’t yet available, they’re definitely ones to watch!
There was no shortage of technology products that called themselves educational at CES this year but Square Panda’s innovative multi-sensory approach to reading instruction stood out from the rest. This phonics based system designed for ages 2-8 uses teaches letters, syllables, sounds, and other reading fundamentals in fun ways thanks to smart letter manipulatives that turn your iPad in to a learning tool. The 10 learning games are engaging and provide positive feedback to keep the youngest ages motivated. With 14 levels of phonics instruction and a diagnostic engine that measures each child’s individual progress, challenges, preferences for game types, and patterns of play, Square Panda provides lots of learning for kids but also useful information for parents and teachers in order to ensure that kids become confident fluent readers. Currently available to order for $119.
There’s no shortage of STEM products on the market but Circuit Cubes are different. Developed by two longtime educators, Circuit Cubes are as easy to use as other products out there but unlike others, they can stack in every direction and integrate with LEGOs as well as household items like old toys or recyclable materials you have around the house. The unique transparent design lets kids see the connections being made when they light an LED, power a motor, or activate a switch, allowing kids to grasp the basics of electronics and STEM through play. While not currently available on the market, I can’t wait for Circuit Cubes to become available. They’re cool, innovative, well thought out, and raises the bar for STEM building blocks! Not yet available but I’ll have more info to share from Circuit Cubes as they get ready to launch.
A DIY drone? Makeblock, the leading DIY robotics construction platform to turn ideas into reality, showcased Airblock, their first modular, programmable and transformable drone at CES. Made of durable plastic foam, Airblock is controlled by Bluetooth via the mobile app and can be programmed by the user to do stunts as a drone or hovercraft on land, in the sea, or in the air. Preorder via the Indiegogo campaign with options starting at $129.
Legos are the ultimate open ended building toy and this August, they will become programmable thanks to Lego Boost. The Lego Boost Creative Toolbox will allow kids to build and code interactive, motorized robots, models and creations with distance, color and tilt sensor technologies. Lego Boost will work with a free easy-to-use tablet app that will feature icon-based drag and drop coding. Coming August 2017.
The Mover Kit by Technology Will Save Us
As a longtime fan of Technology Will Save Us’ DIY kits that combine fun with STEM learning, I loved getting a first look at The Mover Kit. Designed for kids 8 and up to learn the fundamentals of electronics, programming and how to creatively problem solve with computational thinking, it also encourages children to learn by doing what they do best – being active and playing! Kids build their own wearable and then bring it to life by programming it to react to their movements. The Mover Kit features a visual coding interface that’s easy to use without having any coding experience. Currently available from Technology Will Save Us for $75
Phones & Cameras
Huawei Mate 9
Huawei has brought their Mate 9 high-end Android phone to the United States. The Mate 9 is an extremely slim phone with a massive 5.9 inch display and features a dual-lens camera co-engineered with Leica. Inside, it comes with 64GB of storage, an 8-core processor, and an expansion slot that can be dual-sim or 1 SIM + 1 microSD card. It’s an unlocked phone that ships with Android 7 and comes without all of the pre-installed junk you’ve come to expect from your carrier. The phone fills a big void left when Samsung pulled back the Galaxy Note 7. Forbes.com called it “Probably the Best Android Phone Right now” and after using the one that we were gifted at CES, we’re fans! The Mate 9 retails for $599.99 and is available from BestBuy.com and Amazon.
Content creators rejoice! It’s now easier than ever to capture memorable moments with your smartphone without the shake. Steadicam introduced their Volt Smartphone Stabilizer on Kickstarter at CES quickly funded the project and surpassed all goals. I loved getting my hands on the lightweight and compact Steadicam Volt at CES that made it easy to capture smooth and shake free video. Steadicam estimates that early backers of the Kickstarter project will receive their Volts in March and you can still back Steadicam Volt on Kickstarter to get yours in June.
EZVIZ Five Plus Action Camera
GoPro may be a household name and our action camera of choice but EZVIZ is challenging this well known company with their Five Plus Action Camera that seems to directly compete with GoPro’s Hero 5 Black. Both feature the ability to capture 4K content, watch footage on a 2” color touchscreen, easy to operate controls, and are waterproof, but the main difference is the price. The GoPro Hero 5 Black is $399 vs. EZVIZ’s price of $279.99 for the Five Plus that is currently for sale on Amazon.
M600 by Polar
When I was training for my St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon this past December, I did a lot of research on the right fitness wearable that would meet my needs and was happy to have chosen the M400 by Polar. For next year’s race I want the Polar M600 to be my new training partner. It features a full color touch screen, ability to store music via internal memory that I can listen to with Bluetooth headphones that would eliminate the need for me to carry my phone or other music-playing device while still keeping me on track with my training sessions. Polar M600 is currently available for sale via Amazon, Best Buy, and other retailers.
Ventev Wireless Chargers & USB-C Cables
My favorite chargers are going wireless! Frequent readers know that I love Ventev’s Powercell 10,000+ (I used it daily while at CES!) and charging cables for keeping me powered on the go but now their wireless chargers can keep me powered up even when at home. I look forward to simply setting my Android phone down for cord-free charging! For those in need of a USB-C cable, their ChargeSync 2 in 1 features both a Micro SUB and USB Type-C for $24.99. Ventev Wireless Chargers are coming this spring.
GoPuck Portable Wearable Power
GoPros users know that you’re only as good as your battery and when it dies, you often miss capturing some amazing moments. To combat this, GoPuck has created a wearable portable power solution that’s lightweight, rugged, and can keep you charged during a full day on the slopes, water, or traversing difficult terrain. The rugged, yet lightweight design that can be clipped into a mount that includes space for a GoPro and easily attached to a backpack strap to keep you powered through your day’s adventures. GoPuck is currently available via their website or Amazon for starting at $59.99 for 4400 mAh.
FINSix Laptop Charger by Dart
If you’ve ever wished the laptop brick for your PC was smaller, lighter, and more portable, Dart’s FINSix Laptop Charger is for you. Billed as the world’s smallest laptop charger, Dart is a 65 watt laptop charger that features compact design, fun colors, and ability to charge laptops, phones, and tablets thanks to the 9 different tips that come with it. The built-in USB port can be used to charge a myriad of devices, making a must have for tech savvy families who use multiple kinds of devices in the home or on trips. Dart comes in 5 different colors, is small enough to fit in your pocket, and the 9 tips support all major PC brands such as Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony, and more. FINSix comes in black, gray, blue, red, and purple and is currently available for $99 via Amazon.
Where’s my phone? Who is calling me? Why are my earbuds so tangled? Everyone who fumbles for their phone to answer an important call or text and deals with these three things on a regular basis will appreciate Pinn. This clip-on Bluetooth devices is an extension of your Android or iPhone and features an easy to read LED display and microphone/earbud that is always connected to the mobile phone features you rely on most. You can also use it to activate voice commands, control and listen to music, and even use it as a camera remote to take selfies. Pinn is launching their Kickstarter in late February for a price of $119. Sign up to keep up to date with product developments and know when the Kickstarter will be live on MyPinn.com.
Cool Lifestyle Tech
Let’s face it- we all love our drinks at different temperatures and what’s right for one, is not always right for all. Ember is looking to change this thanks to a product that allows you to heat or cool your beverage to specifications of your choice. The insulated mug features a dial integrated into the bottom which allows you to twist the base until you arrive at the preferred temperature. Once the temperature is set, place the mug on the base and let it heat or cool your drink to your ideal temperature. Ember is currently available in 100 Starbucks stores around the country and can be found on their website for $149.99.
Link AKC Smart Collar for Dogs
I’ve seen a lot of dog wearables in my years of attending CES but one of the most impressive ones I’ve seen to date is Link. More than just an activity tracker and GPS locator, Link AKC Smart Collar is a gorgeous leather collar allows dog owners to create a digital safe zone to better enable you to find your dog, know if they’re really lost, or figure out if your dog has just taken himself for a short walk. It provides activity monitoring but takes it step further than other companies by sharing customized activity level recommendations. And since our pets are a huge part of your family, you can also use the free app to record, remember, and share walks, runs, hikes and many more adventures you can have with your dog. Link AKC is currently available for a pre-order price of $149 but the purchase does not include service plans that begin at $6.95/month for a two year plan.
Samples were received to facilitate this post but no compensation was received and all opinions are my own. Amazon affiliate links are included in this post.