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This time last week, with CES 2014 in full swing, we covered half a dozen new tech product announcements of interest to travellers. From motorcycle helmets with inbuilt navigation to tiny cameras, waterproof phones to smart socks, there was already plenty to get excited about.
Now that the show has finished, the hangovers have subsided and the gift bags have been discarded, we can finally wrap things up. Here’s the best of the rest of CES.
The Phone That Charges Itself
For the last few years, French company Wysips has been working away behind the scenes on a fascinating idea: a transparent solar film for smartphone screens. Now it sounds like they have just about cracked the code, in a form that could make it to market as early as this year.
The basic idea is simple — a thin film that overlays a smartphone screen and draws power from the sun or ambient light. Of course, there are plenty of challenges that go with that — acceptable transparency, generating useful amounts of power and not affecting the feel of the screen amongst them.
At this stage, the company claims 85-90% transparency, with an hour in the sun providing an extra ten minutes of talk time. While both of those stats are likely to improve even further, it’s clear that this tech won’t replace a wall socket any time soon.
What it will do, however, is give almost infinite standby time, and perhaps even let you leave a day at the beach with more charge in your phone than when you arrived.
The company aims to have these panels both built into phones and available as third-party cases later this year. Watch this space.
Track Your Sun Exposure, Look Good at the Same Time
Speaking of the sun’s rays, apparently they can do more than just charge your phone. Who knew? For those concerned about the effects of too much sun on their skin, Netatmo has released a “smart bracelet” that syncs with an iOS device to let wearers track the amount of exposure they’re getting.
Unlike most wearable tech, the bracelet doesn’t make its wearers look like cyborgs. It’s actually surprisingly stylish, and comes at a price ($99) that is line with more standard jewellery options.
As well as alerting the wearer when they’ve had too much sun based on their skin type, the associated app also tracks daily habits and advises wearers how to better take care of their skin.
It’s a simple idea done attractively and well — something the tech world in general needs to see a lot more of. The “June” bracelet will be available in three colours (platinum, gold and gunmetal) when it becomes available in the second quarter of the year.
Naming your product after its possible release date? Interesting…
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Can’t Find a Place to Exercise When Travelling? Try… Anywhere
Staying in shape on the road can be a real challenge — especially if you don’t stay in the kinds of places that have in-house gyms. Carrying weights isn’t practical, and even bodyweight exercises can be tough if you can’t find somewhere with enough space to do them.
Enter the Tao, a tiny device about the size of a computer mouse that uses inbuilt pressure sensors and an accompanying app to guide you through around 50 isometric exercises.
The device connects to your phone via Bluetooth to let the app talk you through each exercise — it will even tell you to press harder if you’re not putting in enough effort to get those washboard abs that you’re after.
Users can follow an exercise graph or control a downhill skier to (supposedly) make the experience more fun, as well as compete against friends who also have a Tao.
The reason we like this is simple: the size and simplicity. It opens up all sorts of exercise options in a more practical fashion — there’s no reason why you can’t do at least some of your workout on a bus or train, while standing around in an airport terminal or in a cramped hotel room.
While the final price hasn’t been set, it’s likely to be around $200-300 when the Tao is released in the third quarter of this year.
Got Bedbugs? Don’t Worry, There’s a Suitcase for That
And finally, from the kinda-cool-but-also-what-the-hell files comes the Thermalstrike suitcase with inbuilt anti-bedbug technology. No, we’re not talking about insecticide or other low-tech solutions here, folks.
Instead, the Thermalstrike has an integrated infrared heating element that raises the temperature inside the suitcase to a fatal-for-bedbugs 140 degrees F (60 C). After spending time in dubious hotels, simply plug the suitcase in via a small socket under the handle, wait for it to heat up sufficiently (around 2.5 hours) and voila! No more beg bugs to carry home with you.
Plus, we imagine, nice warm underwear to put on after your shower.
The Thermalstrike comes in both carry-on (20″ / $199) and checked luggage (24″ / $249) sizes, so you can keep bedbugs out of your house whether you’ve been away for a weekend or a month.