18 Sports Tech Things at CES That I Didn’t Write About


My week at CES is structured around an extensive amount of walking, talking, and photographing.  Which might lead you to believe there’s also an extensive amount of writing, but that tends not to be the case.  Instead, I pick and choose which items are ‘worth’ writing up a dedicated post.  Be it either because I think there’s just not enough interest to justify a dedicated post, or because I didn’t get the information I wanted from the company to be able to accurately write about it.  Or, sometimes, just because I have a longer or more detailed post planned shortly.

As such, I end up taking a crapton of photos that have no particular purpose without a full standalone post.  Rather than let them die a slow death on my hard drive, I’m going to try something new this year.  I’m just going to do (roughly) a photo of note from each item/topic/etc, and then a few lines of text on my thoughts.  Sorta like you’d get if you saw me on the show-floor and asked me a question.

Let’s give it a whirl!

(Please note: These aren’t meant to be detailed ‘reviews’ of products, nor some elaborate analysis of specs.  It’s just my super-quick thoughts, akin to a long-form Twitter post.)

Solos Heads Up Display:


The Solos heads up display is kinda like Garmin’s Varia Vision (in that it lacks GPS itself), but without the restriction of Garmin’s device needing an Edge 520 or Edge 1000.  Instead, it connects to iOS & Android phones to provide that data stream.  It can also connect directly to ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors.

While I’ve gotten plenty of hands-on booth time with these sport focused heads up display glasses, it’s not yet riding time.  We were planning to go for a ride Friday morning, but rescheduled at the last second and they’re going to come to Paris in the next few weeks and do a ride here instead.  So rather than have two posts back to back, I’ll save up all that goodness for then.  It’s definitely an interesting option in the heating up category of HUD’s.

Connected insoles and shoes:


I’ve started to lose track of how many connected footwear products there were at CES this year, with numerous companies getting into the biz.  We’re seeing this really going into two categories: connected shoes, and connected insoles.  With shoes, you’re having the sensors baked into the shoe itself, and thus becomes more limited once the shoe dies. Whereas with insoles you can move them from shoe to shoe.

In general the dividing line seems to be big shoe companies going with sensors in shoes, whereas smaller startups going with sensors in insoles.  I’m not sure that a smaller startup would really be in a position to compete well on the shoe front, so I think insoles is probably a better approach for those companies.

The Best Smell of Waking Up:


While sleep related gadgets are on the rise, this particular one from Sensorwake was actually all about waking up, rather than falling asleep or the act of sleeping.  This alarm clock creates various smells that are designed to wake you up.  Such as fresh croissants (it’s a French company), coffee, and chocolate.

I’ll give them credit, the smells were astoundingly spot-on.  Yup, even the toast smelling one.

Lily Drone Up to $34 Million in Pre-Sales


Go figure, for a company that made the mother of all faked simulated drone promo videos, they’ve managed to do extremely well in sales.  And that’s all with recently sliding their initial deliveries some 6+ months into the future (without anything more than showing a very generic take-off video to their name).

Still, I do appreciate that they somehow managed to win CES ‘Best in Show’ awards for a product that doesn’t exist.  No, I’ve never quite understood the logic of presenting awards to products that don’t yet exist.

Casio Outdoor Watch:


Casio was out on the show floor with a massive display setup dedicated to their new WSD-F10 hiking watch. This $500 Android Wear powered unit did away with the typical Casio look and instead ushered in a bit cleaner lines & looks.  Its aim is to attract outdoor folks with a barometric altimeter.

However, at $500 for a hiking watch lacking GPS that basically only gets a day’s worth of battery life with sensors on, that’s going to be a really tough sell in the face of the Suunto Ambit3 and Traverse families, as well as Garmin’s Fenix3 family.  And by ‘tough sell’, I mean impossible.

Human Capable Drone:


Of course, while there were numerous smaller drones on the show floor, there was only one drone capable of carrying a human passenger, from Ehang.  It definitely stole quite a bit of the drone-related aspects of the show.  There’s actually a pretty interesting video the company behind it put together, which you can watch here.

Obviously I wouldn’t be jumping in this thing anytime soon – but every technological innovation has to start somewhere.  Might as well be there.  Iterations and failure are a natural part of moving forward.



There’s a ton of companies at CES focusing on clothing that now has sensors embedded in it, primarily health/fitness related sensors like heart rate and activity tracking.  Hexoskin was one of those who are focusing heavily on the HR & HRV related metrics, but do also account for steps.

In many ways I feel like most of these garments in this industry have a long way to go.  They’re essentially building in what used to be the HR straps into tops, but the pods are still present in various ways.  In the case of Hexoskin you can store about 14 hours worth of data before needing to download it – so it’s better than some clothing that requires a constant connection.



I’m merely including this because it takes the prize on the best device name ever. Period.

The device by LG is actually a kid’s tracker, aimed at providing the real-time location of your child via a cellular SIM card.  It can also measure activity too, but that’s really just an ancillary benefit.  You’ll often see these connected location watches aimed at both the children’s age ranges, as well as the elderly.

KUAI Headphones:


These headphones are very similar to the Bragi Dash, except with more of a sport focus.  For example, they have ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart broadcasting and reception capabilities.  They’ve also got heart rate via the headphones, so they’ll measure and broadcast that as well.

At CES they had ultra marathoner David Clark running marathons (one per day, 4 total) on the treadmill (yes, really) with them on, and the metrics seemed viable.  At the same time, the units they had in the booth appeared 3D printed and/or hand-made, so I suspect they’re still a ways from shipping final units.  Still, cool to see more options in the market.

Pioneer Power Meters:


While Pioneer was off located in the automotive section (more than a mile away from the health section), they did have a respectable little cycling focused booth setup.

In it they were showing off their power meters, but also made note of their most recent head unit firmware update that now allows re-transmission over ANT+.  You’ll remember that Pioneer power meters can transmit either private-ANT (with a bunch of advanced/high speed metrics), or transmit more open ANT+.  But not both.  This essentially allows private-ANT to the head unit, and then the head-unit re-broadcasts public-ANT to other devices.

The main appeal of this update/addition is actually for training apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad and others.  Though, it’d also allow capturing data on a Garmin concurrently with their head unit.



Since many of you often ask about Scosche and whether a new variant of the Rhythm+ is coming, I checked with the company and nothing new was announced, nor does it sound like anything else is imminent.

It still remains the optical HR sensor I use and trust the most, both in my day to day training as well as to use in concert with traditional chest straps when doing optical HR sensor comparisons.

Valencell Optical HRV Video:

I briefly stopped in to check with Valencell and see what was new there.  You’ll remember that Valencell makes the optical sensors found in Scosche’s Rhythm+, as well as far more products than I realized now (about 10 in the market now).

However, I was really there to get the low-down on their plans for introducing optical HR HRV/RR into products.  I shot the above video as a demo of how that works.  Note that it’s still for HRV/RR at rest today, and not yet for HRV/RR during workouts.  It sounds like that’s quite a bit down the road still.

Baron Biosystems Demo


On Tuesday I headed out of the city and into the wet and very foggy desert to get the latest demos from Baron Biosystems.  You’ll remember I’ve touched on them a bit in the past related to automated Di2 shifting, which they were showing me the latest updates for (now wireless!).


However, of additional interest is their training platform which enables them to ‘predict’ your performance in real-time.  It’s sorta like playing a video game.  They can tell me down to the second during a sprint when I’ll fade, or even just any sustained effort (for example, above it believes that at that very moment I could sustain 600w for 38 seconds).  It was pretty fascinating to watch and try out on our ride. More on that a bit later though…

Garmin VIRB XE OBD2 Video:

You know what the hardest Garmin product is to get right now?  No, not some fitness watch.  But rather, a tiny little part called the OBD2 Data Relay connector that enables you to get metrics from your car onto Garmin VIRB X/XE videos.  It’s sorta the automotive equivalent of ANT+ sensors like power, cadence, and heart rate.

I’ve had a unit on order for months without success, so I could try it out and see how it works (since plenty of car folks swing by my action cam reviews).  Over the last few weeks I managed to con one of the VIRB team members into borrowing his adapter for a few days at CES to put together a quick overview video, seen above.  It also gave me another excuse to get far away from the Vegas show floors and out into the desert.

iFit Altra IQ Smart Shoes:


Under Armour wasn’t the only one with connected shoes at CES.  iFit’s brand Altra was there with their connected Altra IQ.  However unlike UA, the Altra IQ goes quite a bit further with the sensors.  Whereas UA is measuring steps/distance/pace, Altra is measuring where within the shoe you’re placing pressure – such as pronation.


They’re sending me out a pair this week, so I’ll be giving them a whirl over the next little while and seeing how they handle.

iFit Optical HR Watch System:

IMG_4500 IMG_4501

So this one is a bit challenging to explain, thus, stick with me here.  Essentially, iFit has developed a watch band that includes an optical HR sensor in it (or, will include one).  Within that, the band is designed to swap into any of their watches.  The thinking being that you could then add optical HR to whichever watch style you prefer.


The way it works is the rubber piece holds the sensor (right now it has a hole, lacking a sensor).  Then it would rotate flat against the back of the watch, and the sensor side facing your skin/wrist.  Kinda brilliant.  The system isn’t available yet, and is more of a proof of concept.

Pebble Time Round:


While Pebble wasn’t on the show floor, I did spend a fair bit of time talking with them about a slew of things.  They also sent me back with a new Pebble Time Round to try out.  And by for ‘me’, I mean, for The Girl.  Who has quickly taken to it as her favorite smart watch (she rarely wears them).

She specifically likes the more stylish look of the watch, and the ‘fun’ watch faces.  She says she might even write up a post on some of the more stylish fitness tracker options (she’s upset I didn’t come back with a new Misfit Ray).



I stumbled upon Emfit, which makes a sleep sensor that does HRV (Heart Rate Variability) through your mattress.  So it’s sorta like what Withings Aura does with their under-mattress sensor, except at a much deeper level.

They’ve got a pretty impressive app that monitors a slew of metrics and allows you to plot them a number of ways.  HRV data can be used to detect overtraining or fatigue, and is what many companies are basing new features like stress scores and related on.

Oh – and yes, like almost every HRV company in the space, they too are from Finland.  It’s a small world…

With that – thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed CES coverage over the past 7-10 days!

Don’t forget to check out all of the DCR CES 2016 coverage, as well as a slew of updates that were only seen on Twitter.  It was a crazy busy week!

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  1. Matthew B.

    If you’re really desperate for OBD2 connnector, you can buy the full racing set that includes it! In stock on Amazon now: link to amazon.com Although $499 :-\

  2. Randy

    Can someone point me to the backstory for the Lily drone?

    • Here’s the general backstory: link to theverge.com or this when it landed on/around sunbathers: link to youtube.com

      The more real story is the one that talks to how much of that initial video was faked (all of it). As just one example, the shots they try to make you believe are coming from the drone are gimbal-ized shots, which Lily lacks.

  3. Dave

    What’s the phone mount system in the Baron Biosystems photos?

  4. Frank Andreasen

    Still no comments from garmin about the long awaited update for edge 1000 ??
    connect IQ and VO2 max,FEC trainer support ?

    • I checked into those last week:

      Edge 810: “Varia updates have targeted delivery in Q1 (there will be two phases and it should all be complete by the end of Feb).”

      Edge 1000: “FE-C support should have a public beta release available this month or next.”

      The Connect IQ piece remains in beta (you can download it today already for the Edge 1000).

    • frank andreasen

      happy to hear good news about the FEC support :)
      the connect IQ might not be so important for the edge though
      thanks Ray

    • Cycloscott

      Garmin is clearly breaking schedule.
      Edge 800 announced Aug 2010
      Edge 810 announced Jan 2013
      …crickets for Jan 2016 for a replacement.

    • Fred2

      Oh good, we WILL be getting updates for the 810. I was beginning to think that 810 updates had ended and that I would have to move to something newer.

  5. Tom Smulders

    Nothing about an newly announced Garmin Edge 820 or 1100?

  6. Myria

    Didn’t Ampstrip — which we now know will never be a consumer product, if it ever is a shipping product in any form — also win a “Best of CES” award?

    Nah, I’m not bitter…

    Nope, not at all.

    • 😉

    • Eric

      I feel your pain, but a renamed Ampstrip has to be coming. Someone bought that technology otherwise we wouldn’t have gotten reimbursed

  7. I vote for a review from the Girl!!

  8. Paul Stock

    Do you have any plans to review the Emfit in the future? It looks really cool on their website, but am wary of buying before reading a DCR in-depth review.


    • Sat-Ganesha Khalsa

      I am also interested in the Emfit!

    • Sylvester Jakubowski


    • Lee Parker

      Interesting you mention the Emfit QS I suffer from Mild Sleep Apnea and treat it using CPAP which seems to be working.
      I track sleep with my Garmin Forerunner 235, Ive tried the Fitbit Surge, MS Band, Garmin Vivoactive (MS Band I would say was the best!) and Ive come to the decision they are just “okay”.

      Im now looking at a dedicated device to ensure I am getting some benefit and monitor the changes from CPAP, Ive looked at the Beddit, Withing Aura and the Emfit QS.

      There is also a device thats been released as a Kickstarter (NeuroOn) that looks interesting but its only just started shipping.

      Out of them all the Emfit QS looks the most advanced currently and a nice mix of fitness/welness a DCR review is needed!

  9. Matthew


    Any updates from Basis on a next gen Basis Peak?

  10. EB

    Red: kuai headphones; if they do Ant+ & BT, any mention of bridging ability?

  11. Bearmeat

    Regarding the Ifit HR sensor in the watch band, I have sort of the same thing right now. I just popped my Mio Fuse out of its band and attached a little velcro to hold it inside my Vivoactive band. Hey, I can even transfer it to different watches. On the other hand it doesn’t look as sleek and refined as Ifit, but who cares when I’m running and sweaty. If I could find a similar size sensor with HRV, I would be all over it.

    • Bearmeat

      Correction… I use a Mio link sensor, not Fuse. I think the Fuse sensor is sealed in its band.

  12. Mike S.

    Hi Ray,

    Do you know why companies are building their sensors into shoes and insoles rather than footpod device? I can see why UA would want to get customers to buy their shoes since they are in that space, but is there any advantage to it over a device you lace to your shoes? Are footpods going the way of the dodo?

    • I think there would be advantages for what Altra is looking to do around pronation/impacts and such, though I’m less certain of that for UA (but as you pointed out, UA’s goal is a bit different).

  13. tfk

    Jabra sport hr earbuds are accurate, comparable to the scosche (surprise surprise as I presume the sensor is v similar VALENCELL). but then they’ll get knocked maybe and lose the signal. Some people find them to be quite inaccurate – I didn’t. With both Jabra and scosche I don’t use them too much as it’s another thing to keep charged up. but they are great in certain situations – the jabra especially if you are an audiophile. They’ve been well advanced down the hrv route for a while as you know. Steve LeB notes that the ear is a great place to take a reading.

  14. Giovanni

    Hi Ray, I saw that you received the new Suunto Ambit 3 Vertical, and that in the last months you’ve been using a Suunto Traverse..
    Are you planning a DC review on both of these? Or the Traverse is too “hiking related” in your opinion?
    Thanks a lot for all your work

    • I’m planning a something, though, not sure what. I might just go with a simple one-shot post on the Ambit3 Vertical, with mention of Traverse, etc… We’ll see.

    • Martin Moran

      When you do, Ray, can you mention how the Facebook UI changes have not been addressed by Movescount, which sounds like a minor thing but is actually quite annoying?

  15. Mark

    Does anyone know if the Garmin Virb X/XE can also connect to other bluetooth-enabled OBD2 connectors, such as the Automatic link? link to automatic.com Or is there something proprietary in the Garmin OBD2 Data Relay?

  16. Jack

    Hi Ray I know that’s a bit off topic but do you know what bike mount does Baron Biosystems use to mount phone. I was looking for sth like this for years.

  17. Peter

    Hi Ray, regarding the Pioneer firmware update, if this is used to re-transmit to a Garmin head unit I’m assuming the sampling rate would still be at the lower rate and not the rate recorded by the Pioneer head unit. From memory it is the head units other than Pioneer that are limited to the lower rate. Is this correct?

  18. Justin Wagner

    Is the Baron Biosystems feedback system based on a realtime calculation of W’ Balance (as Golden Cheetah calls it) or, in WKO terms, how much FRC you currently have left?

    • Justin,

      The model we’re using goes a step further than W’bal or FRC and establishes *Maximal Power Available* (MPA) at every instant. In fact, it can establish maximal power for nearly any given duration at any point in time, including durations below 60s.

      You may for example, still have W’ or FRC left, but would not be able to generate power above MPA. Have a peek at our blogs if you’re looking for more background.

  19. eli

    For emfit, I thought hrv during sleep doesn’t matter
    link to ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

    But it would record while going to sleep and after waking so might be useful then

    • Interesting. Would love to see a slightly bigger study (and perhaps data from Emfit would refute that study), but definitely interesting

    • Eli

      Not really sleeping but does seem like the recommended way to track HRV is by standing as laying down won’t be as sensitive to overtraining:
      link to myithlete.com
      (and since you lay down to sleep, I’m pretty sure the same thing is in effect)

      I do wish there was more HRV analysis done. But guessing this will have to be after optical HR can do HRV well as then it will be easy to collect the information without going out of your way

  20. Scott E


    Any chance you can check compatibility of the Garmin OBD2 with the Virb Elite when your device arrives? Garmin’s web site does not have it listed as compatible, yet it is not unusual for the web pages to be inaccurate. Thank you.

    • I’m 99% sure it doesn’t work, as it was one of the new features noted for the VIRB X/XE. Sorry. :(

  21. Ian S

    Ray, Emfit looks really interesting. You planning on getting your hands on one?

    • Haven’t quite decided. I might though, since I’m not travelling as much and could actually give it a whirl.

      Plus, I kinda enjoy devices where I don’t have to do anything but sleep.

    • Griffin

      Ray, it seems to me that a significant percentage of your readership is interested in sleep metrics, just based on anecdotal evidence gathered from reading the comments on all the activity trackers. I would count myself as highly interested as well, just waiting for the right product. Plus, to the extent the Withings Aura is the gold standard in this space, it would be interesting to see how this product compares to it.

      I vote to go for a full review, I think the hits to that review would be above average. Just in the last week or so, the TrainerRoad podcast mentioned monitoring your HR upon awakening as an early warning sign of illness or fatigue. This topic seems to be getting more and more attention.

    • DirkV

      I am using a beddit to track sleep. Quite happy with the information I get..

    • Okey doke. By popular demand I went ahead and ordered one. Figure it’ll arrive later in the week.

    • eli

      A more in depth review of sleep trackers would be good. While it seems like the aura is one of the better home use sleep trackers out now I wouldn’t call it a gold standard. Beddit seems just as good at getting data although annoying how it can only automatically start and stop on ios. There are others too.

      Hoping a review includes how a normal heart rate strap compares to what the unit says your heart rate is and could compare hrv from a sport watch recording all night with what emfit says (there are open source software tools). And if you have that chance maybe compare what emfit thinks of your bodies status in caparison to say ithlete where ithlete measurements are done in a vertical position (the idea being data collected while your body is vertical is more useful then when horizontal)

    • ivo

      Great! Really looking forward to this review. I’m quite interested in this “HRV-Theory”. Maybe a comparison to the Vitalmonitor (link to vital-monitor.com) and the really “cheap” alternative ithlete (link to myithlete.com) would be fantastic!

  22. Nico

    Hi Ray, I’m curious what your thoughts are on Swimbot, if you had a chance to give it a look. I believe they were at CES. It’s a small device you put under your swimcap, that’s supposed to give you vocal feedback on specific technical aspects of your swim. My uninformed opinion is that they’ll never get anything worthwhile out but I may be wrong. They communicate a LOT here in France but don’t have anything real to show yet… Indiegogo is supposed to start in a month.

    • I didn’t see them at CES. They may have been there, but with I think about 10,000 booths there, I may have missed 5 or 6. 😉

      That said, sometimes companies are at CES even without a booth (i.e. Pebble), so it’s harder to connect with those companies unless they know you.

      As for them being here in France – that’s great! Makes it easy for them to show me the product. :)

  23. Joe E

    Ray, I heard a rumor that Garmin announced inclusion of Muscle O2 (MO2) in their standard profile for FIT files in the future. Did you hear this as well at CES and do you know when this might be as well?

    • Eli

      The standard for how the data is stored in a fit file was there since Nov 2013

  24. Eli

    Any knowledge as to why Ant is pushing their new n5 chipset so much?
    link to thisisant.com
    I understand wanting to improve on the order chipset but the way they market it makes it seem like some stuff couldn’t be done with the old chipset. Outside of more channels what types of things were not possible before that they expect to be done?

  25. AlexL

    Little of topic (they may of been at CES) but but have you seen these Ray, Sony wearable fitness tracking device, appears to track HR with GPS and provide training feedback
    link to sony.com.au

  26. Joshua

    Did you also have a look on the 3DMotion smart sensor from Velocomputer?

    What is your opinion about it? Are these better then the Garmin speed/ cadence sensors?

    link to kickstarter.com

  27. Manum

    The Casio lacks GPS?
    I am waiting for years for Casio’s response to the outdoor watches trend. I got here specifically to search for information about the whole new Casio WSD F10, and am surprised to read it lacks a GPS unit. Is it indeed the case? the ads make you think the watch do have a GPS unit inside, or is it just a phone based app..? I will be glad to hear more about it.

  28. Kyle Lehenbauer

    There’s an ad in Lava magazine for the Emfit QS. I’m skeptical it can get accurate HRV since optical HR sensors have a hard time with it. I also wonder if it could tell me apart from my bed partner (or partners if you count my wife and our cat). If it actually works as advertised it looks like a great product. Any updates on this, Ray?

    • Emfit is waiting for me at the post office (a fact I just discovered today). Will go pick it up tomorrow, assuming they haven’t sent it back by then.

      They never left a note that it had arrived (not uncommon with La Poste here). :(

    • Eli

      When you get it for testing will you have your beddit, withings, and maybe a mix of accelerometer only and accelerometer/hr wrist activity trackers on the bed at the same time to show how they track sleep? Do the deep and light sleep times actual overlap?

    • I did manage to pick it up today, sitting next to me now. My Beddit is pretty old though, in the unit that had lots of dropout issues.

    • Eli

      Check with the newer app and a better USB power supply. Those were the reasons for most of the early dropouts

    • Alettou

      Hi Ray, so did you manage to review the emfit?

    • I have not published a review on it yet, but I have been using it since February. It give plenty of data, which data geeks will like. Though I feel the overall ‘how do I make use of this data’ experience can get a bit lost in the sea of numbers.

    • Alettou

      Well this is a classic big data problem. They should be creating algorithms that help to filter out what might be important. With all the caveats that this is not a medical device so draw your own conclusions. Crazy thought. They’re Finnish, Suunto is Finnish. Suunto doesn’t have an optical heart rate sensor to give you 24/7 HRV data and RR. Shouldn’t they get together and have a little party and make an app that could port this data to Suunto. Could give the new Spartan Ultra a bit of an edge and help make sense of all your data?

  29. I’m looking for information on the Ithlete finger sensors. I didn’t see your review here but perhaps you’ve already done it. Off to search further.

    • ivoaktiv

      I was also searching for some informations about the finger sensor and didn’t find anything (with exception of the product site). But if you have by chance an iPhone then I could really recommend this app: http://www.hrv4training.com. No sensors needed but same accuracy (my experience). Very comfortable and easy to use especially for HRV-measuring in the morning.

  30. Chris Bainbridge

    Are you planning a review of the Emit or other night time HR monitors?

  31. Andrew

    Hi Ray, Have you had a chance to take a few runs in the Altra IQ? I’d be interested to hear how useful you find it to your training. Also with stryd pushing running with power I’m curious if Altra is also interested in going into the space as well utilizing the data they gather with the IQ.