Every year, the occurrence of a few annual events will slow a person’s productivity to a halt. For gamers, the Electronic Entertainment Expo – better known as E3 – convinces some men and women to consider writing Santa Claus a Christmas list for the next few years’ worth of stocking stuffers. The Consumer Electronic Show (or CES) is another such event highlighting the next wave of devices to put a nice dent in your salary.
For CES 2015, a few different devices utilizing VoIP made headlines on various tech sites earlier this month. Nothing qualifies as a revolutionary breakthrough in technology but the novelty of some devices is worth mentioning. We’ll take a look at some of the new gear to hit store shelves and online retailers over the next few years.
The Nest Projects
Of all the VoIP-based devices, the application for those using technology developed by Nest Labs seems to be the most practical of the few exhibited at the 2015 CES. The company is relatively new, beginning its journey into the tech world starting in 2010 with a smart thermostat developed in a Palo Alto garage (story sounds familiar, does it not?). From this humble beginning and a certain granescunt aucta labore attitude, the company currently offers some remarkable products for home automation.
Today, futuristic homes and vehicles a la Robocop are now a reality, thanks to companies like Nest. Devices like Nest Protect function with the Ooma Telo, sending alerts with potentially life-saving information. For example, if the Nest Protects detects smoke or carbon monoxide, it calls with a suggestion to contact an emergency responder. If paired with the Nest Thermostat, a programmable feature allows the Ooma to call should it not detect motion when someone should be in your home.
I hope you’ve never experienced a house fire but you can probably imagine, it is a horrible experience. Christmas Day of 2008, my home caught fire and I experienced a total loss. A blind neighbor smelled the smoke and called to report while I was away with family overnight. It wasn’t until the next day I realized what happened after returning to a scorched shell of a home and a mere business card from a local fire chief attached to a padlocked front door – such a device could have saved some of my possessions. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.
The Motorola Scout 5000
On a lighter note, monitoring pets in the home has become a recent, often adorable fad. People have been taking great lengths from camera set-ups for the sake of recording activities of unruly beasts and to attaching GoPros to beloved animals that ultimately create bittersweet videos such as the one featured below:
Soon, you will have access to a more interactive option for monitoring your pet from a single device. The Motorola Scout 5000 is essentially a high-tech collar – it is equipped with a HiDef camera (well, 720p), a GPS and two-way voice functions. A pet equipped with this technology, with correct timing, can be thwarted from anything, from non-stop barking to an expensive chewing exercise.
“Sir, you are mistaken if you think I’ll do your bidding face-to-face, let alone when commands are by some silly device. Now feed me.”
This is undoubtedly a novel idea. However, if you happen to own a model of pet such as the beast depicted above, the Scout will do nothing more than instill unneeded frustration during a busy day. Sometimes it’s best to wait until you get home before realizing the cat ate your favorite plant and puked on your dry cleaning. Let’s face it – you knew you should have hung up your clothes when you had the chance.
The Ultimate Fridge Accessory: Triby
You have to love your refrigerator – it keeps your food from spoiling and serves as a bulletin board for the latest artwork produced by the little ones. These edible guardians have come such a long way from the early icebox days as many can now be controlled via a built in touch screen and beyond; some even have correlating apps for those with enough time to program the various items stored in the appliance along with the dreaded “expiration date.”
Your stepdaughter probably sees the world through different eyes – this might mean you appear to have jaundice and wear a green skirt.
The Triby is a neat message board that attaches to the fridge (or really, any magnetic surface) and allows two-way voice and written messages. This gives the kids or your spouse a way to call via a secure end-to-end connection or write messages between endpoints. If you need to work late, this gives children and other loved ones a chance to communicate in a unique way. Though not a life changing device, it could be a cute way to interact in real time with the folks at home. You could buy colored pencils and construction paper (which still seem to work in 2015, despite Y2K) and wait until you get home but that’s up to you.
International Travel Hacking with the Strone
This device didn’t seem to get much attention at CES 2015, yet this could be a neat gadget for those frequently hopping around the globe. The Strone uses the SIM card from your device and routes calls to your phone with VoIP thus circumventing roaming or international fees.
Many devices capable of accomplishing the same feat (not to mention, apps like Skype) already exist. However, for roughly a $130 investment and $10 monthly fee, this is somewhat unique compared to most existing devices. On paper it seems functional however, for smaller investment, you can purchase a couple of magicJack Plus devices to keep in contact as you travel the world.
Final Thoughts for the 2015 CES
The VoIP devices making news this year are cool but not exactly groundbreaking. Though the devices mentioned above are mostly for show, I am considering adopting a puppy in the near future and the Motorola Scout 5000 certainly has appeal that stems from experiences with a previous pet. If the animal is anything like my old dog who miraculously escaped on several occasions, this may be worth the investment as bonding the critter out of jail (aka, the locale Humane Society) cost $75 a pop.
Among the other neat things presented at this event, you can find the Saygus V2. Considered a “super phone,” though the cape is not included, it is certainly capable of turning some heads. Also, check out the next wave of smart watches if wearable technology is your thing. Hopefully by next year, real life will be more like Star Wars (Lightsaber, please?).