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CES: Ten product picks for 2016

by Stuart Wilson, Monday 11 January 2016

We survived last week’s CES 2016 In Las Vegas (just). The Channel EMEA team covered many miles and saw a vast array of new and innovative products and technologies. As always, the big challenge at any trade show is identifying the products that will make the grade and are capable of making a real market impact. So, here’s our rundown of ten companies to watch in 2016. (If none of them make it big, we will remove this article in the summer and no one will be any the wiser)

1) ili – the world’s first wearable translator

This smart self-contained translation product could add a whole new dimension to travel and exploration. ili contains an OS of its own, which allows it to translate words instantly. The product, available in summer 2016, currently supports English, Chinese, and Japanese. ili works without Wi-Fi, 3G, or any other internet connection.

2) Neeo – smart home remote combining form and function

Smart home and IoT products were everywhere at CES, but more connected devices and smart technologies could mean more remotes and control apps. That’s where Neeo comes in with a revolutionary remote with hand recognition and insanely simple setup for your smart home. Compatible with 30000 devices and can be set up in three minutes. We want one.

3) LifePrint – augmented reality photo printer

LifePrint is a portable, wireless photo printer that allows you to simply print and share the photos from your smartphone or GoPro to anywhere in the world. LifePrint’s app then uses augmented reality to add magic to your photos. Simply view the printout through your phone’s camera and see it turn into a video. Magical, according to Lifeprint. They call it Harry Potter mode.

4) KlaxoonBox – group collaboration device (works without internet)

We need to explain this one simply. Imagine a box pre-loaded with collaboration software and apps. You stick it on the table and up to 100 people in the room can access it (without the need for internet) to work together. Great for classrooms and business meetings. Each person can view presentations and take part in group exercises and brainstorming thanks to Klaxoon’s magic box.

5) fonebud – multipurpose smartphone accessory

Malaysia-based fonebud reckons it has invented a new crossover product category combining a wide range of functions in one product. fonebud devices act as a Bluetooth handset (that can be paired with two devices), powerbank, selfie shutter, torch, range alarm and much more. There are security benefits too as the fonebud allows users to keep their smartphone in their bag or pocket and still take calls. Very useful product that has made a strong debut in Asian markets.

6) Ween – smart thermostat

Move aside Nest, Ween is coming through! This French start-up has got a new approach to the smart thermostat space. Ween is the first life responsive smart thermostat that enables significant energy savings in real-time. It senses your comings and goings to maximise your savings, taking into account all of your absences (as opposed to learning thermostats). Ween claims it can knock 25% off of annual energy bills.

7) Prodrone – drones less ordinary

We saw a lot of drones last week. Big drones, little drones, smart drones, expensive drones and cheap drones. Prodrone caught our eye by virtue of the fact that they wanted to be different and stand out from the crowd. We’re talking about portable products with foldable arms making the drones easier to transport around. Plus drones capable of carrying standard DSLR cameras. The combination of design and branding should stand Prodrone in good stead for 2016 as it moves into the consumer space.

8) Wistiki – trackers come of age

How do you make trackers cool? You team up with designer Philippe Starck and make a range of different tracking devices suited for unique use case scenarios. That’s what Wistiki is doing and it seems like they’re on to a winner. They’ve smashed their Indiegogo target by 75%, raising US$175000-plus. So, whether it is a tracking device for your wallet (flat, like a credit card) or your pet or your keys, Wistiki will have a tailored solution.

9) Orfeo Sound – listen up people

Orfeo is a pioneer of noise-blocking Bluetooth headsets. Regular Bluetooth earphones have one major problem: when it gets a little bit loud, you can no longer talk on the phone. When you speak with your ears plugged you can still hear your voice. That’s because voice not only goes out of your mouth but also travels internally through the Eustachian Tube. Orfeo placed a microphone inside the earphones to catch the voice traveling through the Eustachian Tube. Then, outside noises are physically blocked off (due to the physical shape of in-ear earphones) and only human voice goes through the mic. Does it work? Yes.

10) AfterMaster – where was JT?

Audio specialist AfterMaster introduced its first new consumer hardware product, AfterMaster TV. AfterMaster TV transforms television audio by raising and clarifying dialogue levels while making all surrounding audio sound substantially better. It connects to any audio or video device via HDMI cables. Apparently, Justin Timberlake owns a stake in the company, but we didn’t see him at CES.

So, there you have it, the Channel EMEA ten from CES 2016. If you’re a distributor or retailer, take a look at these companies because we think they have some real channel potential. Obviously, compiling any list like this is a subjective exercise, but there is some real thought behind it. We’re always looking for products that combine form, function and compelling use case scenarios. Throw in some decent branding and packaging - and an ability for the product to be sold through volume channels now or in the near future - and that’s the sort of company that makes our list.

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