#CES2014: Gaming, Printing, Excercising

Last week, I was lucky enough to break out of the balmy -20 degree Milwaukee weather and take a trip to Vegas to the Consumer Electronics Show. I had a great time at last year's show, and this year did not disappoint!  

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But let's skip the technobabble. Here are three things that will potentially change the way we entertain, build, and excercise in the next few years. 3D gaming, 3D printing, and fitness.


3D gaming

Imagine walking down a street in a video game, and being able to look up, down, left, right.  Now imagine being able to look in back of you. That's what the Oculus Rift. promises to bring to gaming.

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Looks stupid, right? It was. And I loved it.  Reminds me of the horrible virtual reality games in the arcades of the 80s and early 90s. Remember these?


Also. Display port had an amazing 3 monitor setup. 3 FREAKING HUGE monitors. I couldn't even fit this inside of my apartment, but I want it!

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3D printing

I've blogged about 3D printing in the past, and there was a huge showing at the conference. 3D printing is pretty much what it sounds like - a printer that can print a plastic object such as an action figure, a ball, or a mask.  Tons of cool companies like Makerbot, Kevvox, and Sculpteo were printing small 3D trinkets left and right. Some great examples are below.  3D printing is still a little too expensive ($2000+, plus printing material) to bring into the mainstream, but give it a good 5 years or so and we'll be printing our own toys at a reasonable price. Secret Santa will be even more awesome.

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I've been borrowing a Fitbit Flex from Verizon Wireless for review, and it's become my best buddy.  I leave it on my wrist (even in the shower - it's waterproof) and it automatically tracks my steps, active minutes, calories burned, etc.  

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I forget that it's on, which is exactly the point.  The only time I don't forget about it is when I have to charge it by removing a smal part and plugging it up to a computer, which is more often then I'd like (every day or two). For these things to really go mainstream, wireless charging would be a huge benefit. Imagine that I can just throw my Fitbit Flex on a wireless pad like a Powermat. Or even better, placing a wireless charger under my pilow (or make the whole pillow a wireless charger) so that going to sleep instantly charges the device. I know, big dreams, and I could fry my head ... but it would be awesome.

My favorite fitness gadget was the Infomotion 94Fifty - a basektball with a bunch of sensors in it that measure ball rotation, velocity, the arc of your shot, and tons of other variables.  As you dribble, shoot, and pass, you get instant feedback from the voice of a snarky coach.  

For example, when shooting a free throw, you shoudl shoot at an arc of 40 degrees, which is REALLY hard for the average person. All I heard most of the time was the coach saying "Get that arc up" and other remarks. If I had this as a kid, I might actually have been a good basketball player. Maybe it would have helped me grow to 6' tall to.


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Keep an eye out on 3D gaming, 3D printing, and fitness gagdgets in the next few years - things are gonna change!

Reefcasting The Google Chromecast

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If you want to watch Netflix and YouTube on your television, you have a few options -  video game console, Blu ray player, smart TV, Apple TV, or Roku Box. Google has developed an alternative that is both more affordable and easier to set up  The Google Chromecast lets any iOS or Android device, as well as any computer running the Google Chrome browser, control video streaming on your television. For $35, it's a steal. Check out my video review below!

Crappy Wireless Internet? Bring Your Own

Chilling with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1"), a great tablet with mobile wifi to boot.

Chilling with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1"), a great tablet with mobile wifi to boot.

Starbucks. Amtrak. Barnes & Noble.  All of these place offer the promise of free WiFi so that customers can freely browse questionable internet sites at their leisure. However, what always happens? The signal is crappy! Too many people are on it! It's too slooowwwww.

One way to get around this is to carry around your own WiFi signal. Most cell phone and tablet devices such as the Apple iPad or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1") pictured above contain an option that allows the device to broadcast its own WiFi signal. Confusingly, this can be called different things - Apple calls it Personal Hotspot, Verizon calls it Mobile Hotspot, and Windows Phone calls it Internet Sharing. 

This may be an additional charge to enable mobile WiFi - AT&T charges me an extra $20/mo for my iPhone to share a WiFi signal. The price is worth it when I'm stuck somewhere with a crappy WiFi signal and I need to get work done. However, it WILL eat up your battery and drive up your data usage and potentially cost even more, especially if you're connecting using your laptop and visiting data heavy sites such as YouTube and Netflix. I've definitely been hit up with a bill that was significantly higher than I was used to because I didn't watch my data consumption.

BrothaTech also has a great piece on mobile hotspots last year - check that out by clicking here.

Google Glass: Augment My Reality, Four Eyes

Robocop knows the law.

Robocop knows the law.

My favorite part of any movie that features a robot is when they show the robot's point of view. They usually show menus popping up with give further information on what the robot is seeing - someone's emotional state, directions to someone's place, etc.  The cool kids call it "augmented reality".

Google is stepping to the arena with Google Glass, which will be released later this year for consumers. It's essentially a pair of glasses that allow you to access the internet, take photos, and record video with your voice. Joshua Topolsky gives a preview of the device on The Verge. It looks great, but pricey - Google is only promising it will be "under $1500". Yeah ... hopefully it's not $1499. If you can't see the video below, please click here.

Google is expanding on a concept that has existed with other pieces of tech that I've tried. The iPhone Yelp app had an awkward mode where you hold up the camera and restaurants with Yelp reviews instantly appear, along with reviews and distances. If you can't see the video below, please click here.

My Nintendo 3DS came with cards that, when viewed through the 3DS camera, came to life and flew around on whatever background the camera was focusing on. If you can't see the video below, please click here.

I'm definitely looking forward to the release of Google Glass later this year.  I'm saving up now!

CES 2013 Wrap Up Video & Tweets

Last week, I attended the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas. Below is a video of some footage that I took on the floor. Unfortunately, my microphone adapter broke so I was not able to hold any interviews - gotta get that fixed for next year!

If you can't see the video below, click here.

Also, I've embedded a list of Tweets that I shared if you weren't following the action last week. Check it out! If you can't see the tweets below, click here.