CES Special: Tech to touch you!

11th January 2016
CES Special: Tech to touch you!
MadRat's Supersuit... first ever wearable gaming platform launched at CES 2016, flows from Indian brains

Some of the best  launches at Las Vegas  last week will trickle down to India soon. Here's a heads-up  that separates the worthwhile from the whacky

By Anand Parthasarathy
January 11 2016: The annual  Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is cannily timed  in the first days of January  to tell the world what's in store tech-wise,  this year. Problem is,  the launches are a combo of   the worthwhile  and  the weird.  Many of gee-whiz announcements were too bizarre to interest  Indians. I'm guessing  most of us  are not yet ready put down  the equivalent of $ 199 for the "world's first robot dog"   named CHIP (for Canine Home  Intelligence Pet)  or  would want  an olfactory start  to our day with  Sensorwake ,  a  $ 109 scent-based alarm clock  which substitutes the buzzer  with  the  canned fragrance  of coffee or croissants..
So here's my   take on what  was both clever and sensible at CES  -- and  likely to reach us  this year.
AR? Yes.   VR? No.
Forget  Virtual Reality -- for now.  The long awaited, much hyped  VR headsest  -- the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift  will finally be available in March this year -- but  at $ 599  ( almost Rs 40,000), it's clearly not for the rest of us who have to  settle for  the scaled -down experience of  Google Cardboard which we can put together for a hundred rupees.
Augmented Reality, on the other hand,  is  up and ready for 2016. Project Tango technology  brings spatial perception to  a phone by adding computer vision, image processing, and special vision sensors.  It takes two to Tango -- and Lenovo  has joined the creator Google to announce it will soon launch the world's first Tango-enhanced mobile phone which will  react to every movement of users, when they step forward, backward, or sideways, in a 3-D world.  It only works  now,  with Android  so eat your heart out iPhone users!
Wearable  ways
CES watchers seemed to agree that the  coolest wearable preview  this year  was the first ever gaming platform  for kids and families, that  you could wear:  the Supersuit   created by Bangalore- based MadRat Games, the brainchild of Rajat Dhariwal and Madhumita Halder.    It consists of   a vest which  records hits and displays scores in form of lights-n-audio  and a glove  which enables interactivity between players. 
Omron, well known for health monitoring equipment,    will launch at  end 2016,  two wearable blood pressure monitors -- one for the wrist, the other for the upper arm  which go beyond the conventional.   Free of cuffs or wires, the Project Zero wrist BP monitor, tracks blood pressure,  reminds users to take medication, tracks compliance  and  syncs  with  your  mobile phone through Bluetooth  to log the data and connect to  family or a doctor.  The Zero Upper Arm monitor  also tracks hypertension and detects irregular heart beats
'Touching' 2-in-1s 
Because  tablets   initially  came with the operating system of a phone -- Android --  we tended to think of  them as phones on  steroids.  Big mistake. By  expanding them to a 12 inch screen and adding a detachable keyboard, makers  are creating a new class of convertible tablets,  that  work like superlight  laptops -- with the bonus of a touch screen.   Swap Android for  Windows 10 and the illusion is complete  -- which is what both Samsung and  Lenovo will shortly  launch.  Samsung's offering in this burgeoning  form factor is the Galaxy TabPro S, a 12 inch  2-in-1, the industry's first  Windows  machine with a Super AMOLED screen ( 2160 by 1440), just over 6 mm in thickness.  Lenovo  matches  these specs almost head to head  with  its   ThinkPadX1 tablet  and  at additional cost offers Intel's  RealSense Camera  module    for 3-D shooting and  a built-in  Pico projector  to make presentations.
PC for the Unconnected
Many of the  most affordable PCs -- like the Aakash Tablet and Intel's  Classmate --  have originated in India. But other corners of the developing world are innovative too,  as CES reminded us.  From Brazil comes   the Endless PC   a  barebones computer that recognizes that an Internet connection may be hard to get -- or  pay for.  The  Endless Mini is a  spherical cutie,  running on an ARM chip  and a Linux OS. It uses most of its  storage ( 24 or 32 GB) to pack in full encyclopedias like Wikipedia, educational lectures  from Khan Academy, recipes, health information, and over 100 other apps,  for offline use when Internet is expensive, slow, or unavailable. It can be connected to any TV.  In its cheapest version  the Endless Mini costs just $ 79 ( around Rs 5000)

For Images of these products  see Image of the Day