Posting from Las Vegas: People who attend the annual Consumer Electronics Show tend to focus a lot on specific products, but the giant trade show can sometimes be more useful as a broader gauge of the technology trends that are poised to go mainstream.
Which means we’re about to experience a massive influx of high-tech sensors in our lives. Many of them will be connected to our smartphones. And we’ll be able to share almost all of the data on social networks, if we really want to.
At least, that’s one assumption to draw from a CES preview event tonight, where the sensor-meets-smartphone trend was out in full force. Examples included an iPhone attachment for measuring vital signs, a baby scale that connects wirelessly to an iPhone, and a sensor system for finding keys and other lost items — yes, by using an iPhone.
The trend is being driven by a growing supply and decreasing prices of different types of sensors, Shawn DuBravac, chief economist and director of research for the Consumer Electronics Association, during a press briefing here this afternoon. He cited Microsoft’s Kinect sensor for Xbox 360 as a prime example, with its cameras, microphone array and other built-in sensors.
“It is a plastic box of sensors,” he said. “We’re going to see more of those types of devices.”
One company from Singapore, Zensorium, showed a device called Tinke that will plug into the bottom of an iPhone, letting people press a finger against it to measure vital signs such as heart rate, respiratory rate and oxygenation of their blood. It uses technologies including a touch sensor and optical sensor, said Irwan Kassim, principal engineer with the company.
It takes into account age and tracks results over time. Features include the ability to share data on social networks.
Tinke is slated to be released later this year. Pricing hasn’t been finalized, but the company’s target is somewhere around $100.
Across the room, sensors were being put to use to help with an age-old problem: lost keys.
The BiKN system from Treehouse Labs is a special iPhone case that uses RFID technology and an app to pinpoint the location of tags — small devices that can be attached to a keychain, a pet, or anything else that someone doesn’t want to lose, with a range of 800 feet outdoors.
It’s slated to be released within the next two weeks, selling for $99.99 for a case and a tag. Pairs of tags will also be sold separately for $49.99.
Meanwhile, people who don’t want to disclose their own weight to the world might feel differently about their infant’s weight.
Withings, a company that already markets a WiFi-enabled intelligent scale, showed an upcoming Smart Baby and Toddler Scale. The scale (pictured below) comes with an attachment for weighing infants that can be removed to later allow the scale to be used for toddlers.
It’s slated to be available in the second quarter of this year. Pricing hasn’t been finalized.
The scale connects to an iOS app where the baby’s progress can be charted and, of course, shared with friends on Facebook and Twitter.