Now that the Consumer Electronics Show is over, and I've had a chance to review my notes, I have decided that entrepreneurship isn't dead. In fact, while the economy might have been taking a nap last year, many small companies were working on breakthrough products and the following is a selection of some very cool and promising technology I found at the show.
Shepherd 210 Fingerprint Door Lock
As logical and intuitive to use as it seems, the Fingerprint door lock actually works and Arrow Vision Technologies has managed to take the first step toward making keys obsolete. The Shepherd 210 can store up to 50 unique fingerprints in solid state memory. Users can be added and deleted at will by the door's manager. There's an entire range of products based around this technology, some of which are already at market. Visit their site to check out ArrowVision's range of biometric doorlocks and the ultra-cool fingerprint safe.
S3i Solid State "Wall" Speakers
Lots of companies claim to offer "in wall" speakers, but S3i actually means it! These solid state sound drivers are actually embedded into your walls (under the drywall/plaster) and actually use your walls as a resonating surface to create the sound. I'm no audiophile, but the demo sounded good to me, and with no visible wiring or speakers it's bound to be a huge hit with the design conscious consumer. So stop fighting with your spouse about those ugly speakers and check out their offerings. For about US$450 a pair you can both get what you want.
Home Media Centre
Not exactly a small fry in the PC motherboard business, MSI is now throwing it's hat into the HTPC (home theater PC) arena with their Home Media Center and Digital Media Adapter products. The Home Media Center acts as the master unit that stores and records video and music. The Digital Media Adapter can be used in additional rooms to watch prerecorded video or play music stored on the Home Media Center. These are definitely devices built for a specific function and can't be used as general purpose PCs, but at US$599 and US$149 respectively they're priced like home theater gear and don't try to cram a PC into your living room when it's not needed. The user interface is rough, and an integrated TV listings guide is an "upcoming" feature. We'd say that this set of products isn't quite ready for mass (that is, low-tech) consumption, but the technology itself is very promising. We'll be keeping an eye open for the next generation from MSI. Follow their progress here.
SportBinox Head mounted binoculars
One of the most "gadgety" items we saw at CES was a set of head mounted binoculars from SportBinox. These guys actually have a patent on attaching binoculars to a hat. Although the device actually looks like it could be useful to hunters, bird watchers, or sports fans with bad stadium seats, we failed to see what actually qualified this as a consumer ELECTRONICS product.
Regardless, it tied as our pick for cheesiest gadget along with the Electronic Chariot (which is a scooter that rips off the look and feel of a Segway).
Cooled PC Case
Last but not least for small company innovation is Zalman. These guys have been cranking out cooling solutions for PCs for the past several years, but now have moved up the food chain a bit with a full PC case that's completely passively cooled. Their TNN500A ("TNN" stands for Totally No Noise) is basically 2 huge heat syncs bolted to a frame that holds all the gear normally inside a PC between the heat syncs like a sandwich. The whole thing has a cool industrial look to it, and at about US$1200, it's targeted at the really noise intolerant enthusiast that builds PCs as a hobby.
There's plenty more still coming from the Consumer Electronics Show
Watch for another instalment soon