CES 2017: Up-and-coming devices from the ShowStoppers event

At CES, not all the interesting gadgets were on the show floor -- some were on display at events such as ShowStoppers, which featured new devices that are useful, fun or just plain weird. Here is a small selection.

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ShowStoppers

Hopeful companies show off their devices

CES is the annual Las Vegas event where tech companies do their best to impress with elaborate booths, presentations by movie stars, parties at high-class night spots and -- well, and occasionally even with the worthiness of their products. However, amid all the glitz and glamour are some smaller companies that are often just as invested in their consumer-based tech devices as Samsung, Panasonic or Dell.

Some of the smaller companies vie for attention at the annual ShowStoppers event, which takes place after hours in one of the Las Vegas hotels. Here are a representative few from the 2017 event that looked interesting. We haven't actually tried any of these out so we can't yet judge how well they work, and several aren't yet available. But the potential is there. 

Hobbico C-Me

Hobbico C-Me

If you’re curious about the new drone technology, but aren’t willing to deal with the complexity (or price) of most consumer models, you may want to cut your teeth on the Hobbico C-Me, which is less a drone than a small flying camera that can hover about six feet high for up to 10 minutes and take 8-megapixel full-HD selfies -- both still photos and videos. Weighing about 5.3 oz., the little quadcopter will hover and move slightly to the right and left; you control it via a smartphone app.


The C-Me will be available (in four colors) this coming March for $200.

Quick Pod Twist

Quick Pod Twist

There are a lot of smartphone mounts out there, but not all that many that will let your smartphone comfortably hang from the wall or in the shower. The Quick Pod Twist is an elasticized band that wraps around your phone that can stick to a variety of surfaces -- and, according to the vendor, can be removed and stuck somewhere else. But wait, there's more: the Twist includes a tripod and a detachable Bluetooth remote that lets you take photos remotely using the free app. The mount also comes with a lanyard so you can hang your phone from a backpack or bicycle handlebars.

The Quick Pod Twist will sell for $19.95 starting in February.

Flir One

Flir One

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you may want to make sure that you know where the electrical wiring is in your wall before you start driving those nails. Flir Systems creates a variety of imaging and locating systems for professional contractors and other professionals, but it also offers the Flir One, a thermal imaging attachment for your iOS or Android phone that lets you see where the hotspots are, in your wall or in your computer. This third-generation device has two cameras: a thermal and a “normal” VGA camera. The two images are blended using a process that the company calls Multi Special Dynamic Imaging (MSX) to make the results easier to see.

In addition, the Flir One has been fitted with an adjustable attachment so you can use it if your smartphone has a case.

The third-generation Flir One will be available sometime in the first half of 2017 for $200.

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  • Promise Technology Apollo Cloud 4TB

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Promise Technology Apollo Cloud

Promise Technology has been offering NAS and other storage solutions to businesses for years, but now it’s decided to go consumer with its new Apollo Cloud personal networking solution. The Apollo Cloud allows home enthusiasts to store photos and files, and stream videos to up to nine users -- and it includes automatic backup as well.

There are two versions: a 4TB model that currently lists for $249 (vendor price), and a 2TB that will start shipping in February for about $100 less.

Tempi

Tempi

If you’re really set on knowing what the temperature and humidity is in your home, your workplace, your backyard or anywhere you happen to be, then you may want to check out the Tempi, a personal monitor that will measure those two factors wherever your area. A disk with a diameter of about 1.35 inches, the Tempi can be clipped to your clothing or placed in its base; using Bluetooth and a smartphone app, you can check the temperature and humidity, and set notifications if either goes above or below a certain limit.

Tempi will cost $59 and is set to ship to the general public sometime around March 2017.

Udoq

Udoq

Docking stations are pretty ubiquitous these days -- and replaceable, since it’s likely that, when you buy a new phone, you’ll have to also replace the docking station. Udoq wants to become your permanent docking station, no matter what new technology you purchase. The good-looking heavy metal base is styled so you can mix-and-match depending on what devices you own. Just slide in one or more power cords -- Lightning, 30-pin, micro USB and/or USB-C. The Udoq comes in several widths, so you can get one that will accommodate as many devices as you have.

If you buy it directly from the manufacturer, you can configure it exactly for your needs; or you can buy it from a variety of retailers and get pre-selected kits for iOS or Android products -- or mixed, if you have a multi-OS household. Prices are expected to begin at about $99 for a station that can handle up to four devices.

The Udoq is due to ship in the U.S. in March.

Zvox Audio AccuVoice TV Speaker

Zvox Audio AccuVoice TV Speaker 200

Remember those rock concerts you attended when you were a kid? Wondering why you can’t hear quite as well as you used to? If you’re a Boomer or a Gen X adult who has suddenly realized that all that loud bass is starting to have consequences, Zvox Audio has come up with the AccuVoice TV Speaker 200, a strip speaker that sits under your TV set.

The device uses algorithms to separate voices from background audio and music in the sound track; it then enhances those voices, making it easier to for listeners understand what characters are saying -- without having to resort to closed captioning. 

The AccuVoice TV speaker is currently back-ordered; it is usually available for $250.