Quick Bytes

The Wall Street Journal has introduced its top picks from the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show.

The list includes:

HP EliteBook Folio G1. The Windows 10 laptop is said to be slimmer than Apple’s MacBook. HP’s newest business-targeted laptop squeezes a 12.5-inch screen into an aluminum shell that’s 0.47 inches thick – reportedly trimmer than an AA battery, and slightly thinner than the 12-inch MacBook’s 0.52-inch-thick body. And, while Apple has only one USB-C port for both power and wired connections, HP features two ports. The Folio can swing open 180 degrees, and HP claims its battery should last over 10 hours if the user selects the model with the HD screen. The device is scheduled to be available in March, starting at $999.

GreatCall Lively wearable. A wearable fitness and safety monitor for seniors, the Lively is designed to help both seniors and their families by combining Fitbit-like fitness tracking with an always-on emergency service. Worn on the wrist or as a necklace, it pairs with a smartphone to gauge and report activity. A companion app offers daily challenges and virtual rewards for goals, and shares updates with family members. With a press of Lively’s emergency button, a service called 5Star responds. The device can also make a call if it senses a fall. The waterproof Lively reportedly lasts up to six months on a charge and costs $100, plus $15 a month for emergency service. greatcall.com

SensorWake. An olfactory alarm clock, the clock’s alarm is a little hatch that spritzes fragrance until one shuts it off. SensorWake’s makers say their scents wake 99 percent of sleepers in two minutes, the key being pleasant yet jarring fragrances such as peppermint, chocolate and coffee. SensorWake is now working with Swiss fragrance manufacturer Givaudan on the hyper-concentrated scents. A two-scent pack costs $10.90, and is good for 60 wake-ups. SensorWake is taking pre-orders for $109, and intends to ship in June. sensorwake.com

4Moms Car Seat. A self-installing baby seat, 4mom’s smart car seat is designed for babies weighing 4 to 30 lbs, and features dual LCD screens and speakers in the seat, to help guide one through the installation process. Once the base is connected to the car’s metal clips, it automatically levels itself and audibly confirms that all is safe and sound. The seat includes a peekaboo canopy, a pop-up sun shade and an adjustable headrest. It is expected to be available in June for $500. 4moms.com

PetChatz HD With PawCall. A two-way video-conferencing system for pets, the PetChatz HD camera has two-way video chat and an app-controlled treat dispenser. Recently the manufacturers added the PawCall accessory, which lets one’s pet initiate the call. When the pet-safe button is pressed, the owner receives a request on his or her smartphone or computer for a quick woof or meow! The PetChatz HD system is costs $380, and PawCall is available for an additional $100. petchatz.com

Digitsole Smartshoe. By pairing a smartphone with Digitsole’s Smartshoe, one can wirelessly control the temperature of the insole, adjust the shoe for a snugger fit and even turn on a built-in flashlight. The shoe tracks the user’s step count to calculate calories burned and distance walked. In addition, it offers built-in wireless charging. Even when the user is away from the charging mat, the smartshoe reportedly works for multiple days on a charge. Smartshoe is expected to be available by the fall of 2016 for $450 a pair. digitsole.com

Fitbit Blaze. A fitness-focused smartwatch, Blaze combines the company’s workout tracking with smartwatch features, including a high-resolution color touchscreen, continuous heart-rate tracking and on-screen workouts from FitStar. (It relies on the user’s smartphone for GPS tracking.) Fitbit is promising up to five days of battery life, all at a cost of $200. fitbit.com

Bartesian Cocktail Machine. A pod-based mixed-drink maker, Bartesian works much like a Keurig coffee maker. Users pop in a capsule and select a desired strength, and the robot bartender prepares one of potentially hundreds of cocktails. The Bartesian draws on four containers filled with rum, vodka, tequila and gin. The capsules, which come in such flavors as Cosmopolitan and Zest Martini, contain the bitters, juices and other flavors needed to complete the cocktail. No shaking or stirring is required. Bartesian costs $300, plus $20 for a mixed pack of 12 capsules, and is expected to ship in the spring. bartesian.com

Lego Education WeDo. Lego Education WeDo 2.0 – a wireless update to a system that launched in 2009 – is designed to teach children to build tiny robots, while challenging them to solve real-world science problems with coding and bricks. The system includes an electronic building brick, a motion sensor and a motor, as well as a wireless hub. Projects are open-ended. For instance, children are asked to design a device that could mitigate devastation in a storm-damaged region. Unlike Lego Mindstorms, which are designed for middle schoolers, WeDo aims at younger children aged 7 and 8. While $160 kits are targeted for schools, they are available to families as well. education.lego.com

Variowell smart bed. A mattress that responds to one’s fitness tracker? With Variowell’s smart bed, the mattress connects to smartwatches and fitness trackers, and adjusts its firmness based on the user’s real time sleep stage. In light sleep, it firms up. In deep sleep, it softens to make sure the user is most comfortable. Before one wakes up, it becomes firm again. If the user prefers, he or she can adjust the firmness manually, using a smartphone app. The system is scheduled to be available in May. variowell-development.com

For more information on top picks from the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show visit www.wsjonline.com.


Put a ring on it
Neyya, a digital companion smart ring, offers women a mix of practical and fun.  The smart ring allows the user to access her devices, such as a laptop or phone, with a simple tap and swipe. For instance, Neyya:

  • Buzzes on the user’s finger to notify her of important calls or texts.
  • Enables the user to switch tracks on her favorite playlist.
  • Enables the user to swipe and move through slides in Keynote, PowerPoint and Prezi, while staying focused and connected to her audience.

The ring is available in Titanium (US $139) and Gold (US $179), in a variety of sizes.  For more information on neyya and the neyya smart ring visit http://www.myneyya.com.