Each year in the first week of January, tech companies congregate at CES in Las Vegas to show off their newest products. We're here to show you what's cool, what's interesting, and what's going to change your life in the year to come. What will 2016 be like? If this year's newest products are any indication, it's going to be smarter, more connected, and even a little bit whimsical. Read on if you want a sneak peek at what everyone's going to be talking about this year. One of the biggest trends we're seeing thus far is a continuation of something we saw last year: the connected home. In the past, internet-connected lights, bathroom scales, and other gadgets merely connected to an app — it was cool to control them using a tap of your smartphone, but they couldn't do much more than that. Now we're starting to see these things work together, presenting you with useful information that could actually make your life easier. Gadget-makers have also realized that things don't just need to work well, they need to look good and fit in with your personal style, too. Here are 13 gadgets that could transform your 2016 for the better.
Photo: Courtesy Ween.
Ween This teardrop-shaped device isn’t a sex toy, it’s a smart thermostat. Ween bills itself as the anti-Nest: Instead of learning from your usual comings-and-goings behaviors, Ween adjusts your home’s temperature in real time, using your smartphone’s location to know whether you’re on the couch, or if you’ve left the house and it can drop the temperature a few degrees to save money on your heating bill. It has a wall mount that fits where your current thermostat lives, and this teardrop unit, which you can sit in your kitchen or living room. To adjust the temperature, you just twist the teardrop's silver tip clockwise or counter-clockwise. Ween will arrive in France this spring, and globally after that.
Photo: Courtesy Sensorwake.
Sensorwake We can’t decide whether this is ridiculous or amazing. Sensorwake is an olfactory alarm clock — an alarm clock that uses smell, rather than sound or vibrations, to wake you up in the morning. The idea is that you’re woken up by one of your favorite fragrances, something that puts you in a good mood so each morning you wake up with a smile. There are a handful of scents to choose from, including espresso, mown grass, chocolate, and freshly baked croissant. The smell is produced by a capsule that lasts 30 days (30 uses), which you can swap out as you wish. Sensorwake aims to ship by this summer for $109, but you can pre-order it now for $89.
Photo: Courtesy Netatmo.
Netatmo Presence Netatmo has established itself as the Apple of smart home products — each year, it tackles something new, and makes that product easier to use and much better-looking. This time around, the French company took on the outdoor-security space with Presence. Presence is a 1080p outdoor-security camera on bottom and floodlight on top. It lets you know whether a person, a car, or an animal has crossed onto your property, thanks to built-in algorithms that can tell the difference between all three types of movement. As you set up the device through its accompanying app, you can set zones in the camera’s field of view, and then draw on those zones to tell it what kind of alert you care about within each of them — a car entering your driveway, a person walking up your sidewalk, or that you don't want to be alerted about cars driving by on the road in front of your pad. It stores video locally, rather than in the cloud, so there's no monthly subscription fee. It should be available this fall.
Photo: Courtesy Misfit.
Misfit Ray This year, wearables and fitness trackers are all about personalization. And to that end, Misfit's made an activity and sleep tracker that's discreet, chic, and quite customizable: Ray. Ray is a cylindrical aluminum device that can be worn with a silicone band (shown), cord, ribbon, or perhaps even an existing bracelet you own. It's hollow in the middle, so you just slide the band through. You can wear it as a bracelet, necklace, or even as a choker — if you're feeling a little cyberpunk. It uses a three-axis accelerometer to track sleep and motion, and has a vibrating motor and an LED to alert you to incoming notifications. Ray also works with IFTTT and Misfit's Bolt lightbulb as an easy-access button for turning Wi-Fi-connected things on and off in your home. Available for pre-order now, Ray is $100 and will ship this spring.
Photo: Courtesy Polar.
Polar Balance Scale Polar's Balance connected smart scale is one of the first to tie together all that step and calorie-tracking information from your wearables into something that's actionable and useful. The scale works with Polar's wrist-worn activity trackers to better help you achieve weight-loss goals. How? By dynamically adjusting your movement and step targets each day. If you take fewer steps and eat a few more cookies one day, it can give you a higher step or calorie burn target the next day to make up for it. While it's limited to the Polar ecosystem of products (which is quite vast, for what it's worth), it's an interesting — and useful — combination of two previously disparate pieces of tech. Balance is available now for $100.
Photo: Courtesy Smarter.
Smarter Mat It's always annoying when you're at the grocery store, and you can't remember whether it's time to grab a new container of almond milk — was there enough in the carton to last another week? By placing one of Smarter's Mats in your fridge or cupboard, you can always know whether that almond-milk situation is good, or it's time to pick up another one. Just sit items on the mat — a bottle of ketchup, gallon of milk, cans of soup, anything — and then when you're at the store, you can check the app (or get a reminder) to know if you're full up, or it's time to restock. When you tell the app what's sitting on the mat, it'll even give you an illustration of that item and whether it's running low. The Mat comes as a single, double, or quadruple unit (pictured), and should arrive this summer.
Photo: Courtesy Fitbit.
Fitbit Blaze Fitbits are the most popular activity trackers out there. But if you've got one of the old, super-basic step-tracking versions, you may have found yourself lusting after something that does a bit more. The Fitbit Blaze could be just the thing. The Blaze is a modular fitness watch designed to monitor heart rate, sleep, and workouts. Its color touchscreen is customizable with different watch faces, and that face also pops out so you can swap it into different style bands, such as this plum one or a black or gray leather band. With 24/7 heart-rate tracking, you can start to see trends in your health, stress, and fitness. It also tracks sleep and activities automatically — it can detect if you start running, biking, playing tennis, or even doing a Zumba class, and will then save and upload your activity automatically. You can pre-order the Blaze for $200, and it will ship in March.
Photo: Courtesy Doppler Labs.
Here Active Listening Here Active Listening is a novel, useful, and trippy take on improving the open office environment — or any space, for that matter. The in-ear audio system lets you customize how you hear the world around you by taking audio in and simultaneously running it through a filter. What you hear is different from the ambient sounds in your vicinity. Through its app, you can adjust the volume, so if you’re working and coworkers are having a loud conversation nearby, you can literally tune them out. You can also mimic the acoustic qualities of places around the world, such as Carnegie Hall, or add echo, psychedelic audio filters (not sure when you’d actually need those, but it’s fun, regardless). Here will cost under $300, and plans to ship by the end of the year.
Photo: Courtesy Fisher-Price.
Fisher-Price Code-A-Pillar This colorful, illuminated caterpillar toy is probably the cutest thing we’ve seen at CES so far, but it’s more than a toy. The Think & Learn Code-A-Pillar teaches young children the most basic concepts of coding: thinking skills, problem solving, patterning, and sequencing. Code-A-Pillar comes with eight segments, which kids can attach together in various orders. Depending on the order, the mechanical caterpillar executes different actions, like moving straight forward, turning right or left, or lighting up. It looks incredibly fun, while also being deceptively educational for pre-school age kids. It will go on sale later this year.
Photo: Courtesy Withings.
Withings Go A personal pet peeve with most of today’s activity trackers is battery life. I love wearing them, and find the insights useful, but once I take it off to charge… I often forget to strap it back on. The $70 Withings Go just about does away with that issue thanks to an e-ink screen (the same type that’s on your Kindle). This helps its battery last up to eight months without a charge. The Go, which ships later this year, does just about everything else you’d expect a tracker to do: monitor steps, sleep, calorie burn, and activities like running or even swimming, since it’s waterproof. It has a minimal display, which shows your overall progress towards your daily goal in a radial chart and a modular design (the face pops out and can be worn as a clip, bracelet, or pendant), similar to the original Misfit tracker. You can head to the Withings app to get more insights about your daily habits.
Photo: Courtesy Marathon.
Marathon Laundry Machine In cities like New York or San Francisco, in-unit washers and dryers are generally an impracticality (and a luxury) because they’re so damn big. Marathon is a washer-dryer unit in one. And unlike existing washer-dryer hybrids, it uses standard dryer venting technology, so your clothes actually get dry after their wash cycle. On the front, it has a knob-free touchscreen as a control panel, and if you want, you can connect it to your home Wi-Fi to keep track of your energy usage, and remember preferences for different users. Apple and Adobe alum Glenn Reid, the company’s founder, wants the device to be the Tesla of large appliances — a very tall order. It’ll cost $1,200, and should come out in mid-2016.
Photo: Courtesy Lumo.
Lumo Run Lumo’s entry into health and fitness tech was the Lumo Lift, a device that helps you monitor and improve your posture. This year, the company’s got Lumo Run, a new product that tracks stats like cadence, bounce, ground contact time, stride length, and pelvic rotation, and feeds that information to the smartphone app. If you have your earbuds in, the app can then give you real-time audio cues to improve your form and performance. The shorts and capris include a pocket pouch for storing your phone or keys, too. Each costs $99, and will begin shipping this spring.
Photo: Courtesy Nima.
Nima “Excuse me, does this have gluten in it?” If you have a gluten intolerance, more often than not, you’ve uttered this phrase at restaurants or potlucks. With Nima in your pocket, you don’t have to; the small, triangular device can detect whether your food contains gluten or not. Slide out one corner to reveal a slot where you can insert a tiny sample of food, then slip the capsule back in, and wait for an LED smiley face. (If a food has 20 ppm or more of gluten, that smile turns into a frown.) We can’t wait for this type of technology to expand to all kinds of food allergies and sensitivities.