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Roundup from CES Day 1: Unveiled Event

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In the lead up to CES officially starting there are a number of press events for companies to showcase their newest products to media before the showroom floor actually opens.  Last night I had the chance to attend one of these events – CES: Unveiled Las Vegas.  This was the spot for a handful of companies to each set up a small table and discuss their products as the press wanders through.  This event had a number of companies focused on health and fitness as well as many others within different industries (such as a portable and universal odor detection device, puppy location trackers and a connected tea leaf holder).  Among these are a few that are worth particular note.

Withings Gets In Your Hair

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The first stop of the night was with well-known wearable & connected device manufacturer Withings.  Here at CES they are showing off the new Withings Steel HR which was announced a couple months ago.  The device began shipping a few weeks back and current owners should expect a firmware update soon that enables additional automatic sport detection capabilities.  Ray will come back to the Steel HR soon with a closer look at how Withings is blending a classic timepiece with optical heart rate (and some pretty crazy battery life durations).

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In addition to the Steel HR, Withings was also showing off the byproduct of a new partnership with Kerastase (L’Oreal’s high-end brand).  Together, these two companies are bringing to market a new category of device, a smart hairbrush called the Hair Coach.

The device, complete with WiFi and Bluetooth, runs on 2 AAA batteries and should get about 6 months of battery life.  The brush is designed to listen to the sound of your hair going through the bristles while also measuring the force with which you are brushing.  By including force sensors and accelerometers, the Hair Coach will notify you if you’re damaging your hair or applying too much pressure.  It will then take this information and use it to create a training plan to coach you to healthier brushing habits.

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The device begins shipping in the second half of the year and should cost under $200.  This is the first connected hair brush that I have seen but I have a feeling it won’t be the last. No word yet on whether this will support those who are follicly challenged. However, Ray is making it clear that this won’t be showing up in the DCR Review Queue anytime soon.  Well, unless The Girl tells him otherwise.

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For more information on the Hair Coach, you can hit up the Withings site, which answers all your hair care wearable question.  Most notably, questions you didn’t even know you had.

The SpeedX Unicorn

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Some of you may remember a Kickstarter bike project from back in March of 2016 called the SpeedX Leopard, ‘The first ever smart aero road bike’.  Some of you may have decided to back the project and even received your Leopard, although it seems many European backers (and by many, I mean pretty much all), are still waiting for their bikes to arrive.  However, that isn’t stopping SpeedX from coming back this year with an all new Kickstarter – the SpeedX Unicorn – the first ever smart bike with an integrated power meter.

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The aim here is really to take all of the ‘accessories’ you would typically associate with a road bike (GPS, Power Meter, Speed & Cadence) and build them directly into the bicycle itself.  They are incorporating a number of pretty cool ideas including a wireless ‘Black Dot’ which can be placed wherever you like on the bike and is used to control the onboard cycling computer.  There is also a companion iOS and Android application that can be used to wirelessly sync and record data from rides.  The dot concept is sorta like the ANT+ remote control that can be used with various Garmin cycling units today.

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One of the biggest additions over the Leopard is the inclusion of an integrated spider power meter.  SpeedX told us that they developed the power meter in-house and through “extensive testing” they believe they can deliver “99% accuracy against SRM”.  But making power meters is hard, much harder than folks think.  Given the company has significant struggles in simply shipping bikes to people, I’m less inclined to believe they’ll manage to make an accurate power meter with no previous power meter experience (or reliance on 3rd parties that do have experience).

While I didn’t get any riding time with the bike, they did have a model on the floor available for photos and poking at.

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The idea of crowdfunding a high-end bike seems to make sense in practice, but I’m a little concerned with the proposed timelines of the Unicorn.   They very well may nail their targets, but SpeedX is attempting to do quite a lot here and I am still waiting to see them fulfill nearly year old orders from the Leopard.

As an aside, regarding Leopard, I was told that EU residents who purchased a Leopard should begin to see deliveries in mid-January.  Which…is only 10 days from now.

Polar’s New Gear

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While Polar didn’t announce any new watches this year at CES, they were showing off their new Polar Team Pro Shirt.

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The shirt includes a pod with Bluetooth Low Energy and GPS capabilities while providing approximately 10 hours of battery life.  The shirt provides a wide range of data including heart rate, speed, and acceleration.

While there are likely many use cases in the endurance sports world, Polar is targeting the Team Pro Shirt specifically for team sports.  The idea here is that a coach with a tablet can have access to real-time data on all of the athletes at any given time, and the unit has a range of about 200 meters.  He or she can then adjust training or playing time as needed based on real-time performance and metrics.

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The Team Pro Shirt is going to be sold primarily to teams and organized coaching, and will be available at the end of Q1 for around $100 at bulk quantities.

Omron

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Walking through Unveiled tonight I came across Omron, a company that specializes in healthcare and medical devices.  Their booth caught my eye for a few reasons: a wrist-based blood pressure monitor and what looked like a smartwatch that was also measuring blood pressure.

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The first item, the Heartvue, is a small wrist-based blood pressure meter that is going through the final rounds of FDA approvals for all of the appropriate medical device certifications.  There are a ton of companies that have built BT enabled blood pressure monitors, but this was the first I had seen in a watch style form factor.  What really interested me was the product they were teasing for a late 2017 release, the Omron Project Zero 2.0.  Project Zero is an effort for a generation to live without strokes or heart attacks.  The goal here is promoting heart health and living longer.

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What is compelling about 2.0 and why it might be interesting to the average reader is that 2.0 can function similarly to a smartwatch or activity tracker.  It can receive phone calls and other push notifications as well as track sleep, count steps, and take wrist-based heart rate.  The Project Zero 2.0 also has a wrist-based blood pressure monitor that can perform ad hoc blood pressure measurements when triggered for better monitoring.  These results can then be uploaded to a Personal Medical Record, shared with a doctor or really any other extension that is necessary for medical information.  It is cool to see a company making routine but necessary medical monitoring easier while adding features to make the product more useful.

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Project Zero 2.0 is beginning beginning FDA certification and should be available later this year.

Motiv Ring

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The final stop of the evening was to check out the just launched Motiv Ring.  This is a slightly different take on the fitness tracker/wearable market that has seen so much growth in the past year.  The Motiv Ring is capable of tracking steps, sleep, activity and heart rate.  Battery life is around 5 days and the ring has a nifty little USB based charger the ring clips on to.

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One unique thing about the Motiv is the deviation away from the 10,000 steps per day goal.  Motiv is referencing a governmental study from 2008 that stated adults need 150 minutes of moderate to intense activity.  The Motiv Ring tracks these activity minutes towards an overall goal of 150 per week.  It’s an interesting approach and one that some other players in the space are taking.  By spreading out the goal, you allow yourself the possibility of the chance to make up for the occasional down day without missing your goal.  The Motiv Ring is available for reservation now, orderable in the near future and is on track to ship this spring.

That wraps up CES: Unveiled! Don’t forget to check out all the CES 2017 coverage, as well as continual updates throughout the day on Twitter.  It’s gonna be a crazy busy week!

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28 Comments

  1. A few thoughts:

    1 – I like gadgets like everyone else, but do we really need a smart hairbrush. What’s next? a smart razor or a smart knife? This does feels like a conduit to sell more L’Oréal products through the app.

    2 – Blood pressure 89/63? Is the device accurate or your systolic pressure that low??

    • Jack

      I seriously doubt that someone that tall could walk around with a systolic blood pressure that low and not faint every time they stood up. Obviously the device has no reliability compared to a proper medical grade device, which effectively makes it useless…..

    • ManxShred

      Well, I have had my heart rate measured in a doctors surgery at 90/55, and I don’t fall over. I do get light headed if I stand up too quickly after exercise, but that is it.

    • Lars Storm

      @ManxShred : but still such low systolic blood presure looks unreliable – or at least as a photo of a non-measuring device
      Heart rates at 95 or 55 bpm is a different story

  2. DLinLV

    Hmmmm…the Omron Project Zero is intriguing. My immediate thought is how this could be used for training/racing. What is the correlation of blood pressure to optimal performance? Would hydration levels be apparent in the data, or other useful insight? More research needed on how this could be leveraged, perhaps.

    Dennis

  3. Ron Gubitz

    I thought this was an Onion article or Internet April Fool’s very with the hairbrush. So ridiculous

    • Nedim

      You know that there were a buch of meetings with a bunch of ideas presented. And the smart hairbrush won. Because it was the best one. Or as I like to say “somebody got a bonus for this”.

    • Jonas

      This is for the new millennial (2.0 like the tweens now) who want to live in a pointlessly futuristic world.

      It’s like the start of a B movie that wants to let you know its set in the future.

      Or maybe there’s some actual useful tech here that can get repurposed. Take these pressure sensors and put it into some shop tools for apprentices to learn how much force to use with equipment?

  4. Brian

    No new Garmin Edge 1010?

  5. Brett

    Does the motiv ring actualy measure heart rate? i see no reference to it on their website…. sounds like a great product if so!

  6. LRead

    Unless the technology has greatly advanced, not sure how much faith I have in a wrist watch based blood pressure reading. I believe previous testing of wrist based blood pressure cuffs by Consumer Reports showed them to be less than reliable or consistent.

  7. MikeDozer

    Any news about watches with mapping like Epix but with software support or Fenix5x but cheaper? After Epix its very hard to trust Gamin with their new devices :/ have to wait about one year to end beta program for new watches.

  8. Christian Lagerblad

    New Edge 1000 god damn it!

  9. Jørn

    Will we see Strava and Trainingpeaks support for the hairbrush? :)

  10. Andrew

    The activity tracker ring looks an excellent concept.

    One thing I hate about activity trackers is how enormous they have all got over the last couple years as they try and cram a stack of extra features into them for no good reason. Look at the size difference between the original vivosmart compared to the latest one. I struggle to actually fit my vivosmart HR under some business shirts (it absolutely cannot be worn with french cuffs) because of its bulk.

    Now if only you could integrate a 3rd party device with garmin connect….

    • gingerneil

      Yes – looks great. I can’t wear a watch at work, but this looks like a possibility. It would need to feed into Garmin Connect and allow me to dedupe from my F3

    • Tony

      Million Dollar Idea – Activity tracker Cuff links… for the well dressed business professional

    • Jim Murff

      There was a tracker, activity, do everything ring on kickstarter that stole a lot of money from a lot of people. I am inclined to be sketched out be that amount of tech in a ring actually being a real possibility.

  11. marco Foa

    Unicorn ?
    1) Looking at the geometry this bike falls in between a racer and an endurance bike. but does it satisfy either case? As a racer it has probably too much compliance and flex, as an endurance the stack is too low and the integrated stem /handlebar makes it difficult to dial a personal position for a long ride endurance ride.
    2) There is question mark on strength of the frame and the fork . The fork seems too light to handle disc brakes. This will have to be tested in the real world.
    3) There is no configuration options. In the endurance world the avilibility of 50/34 compact and/ or a 11-32 cassette is an important missing feature
    Prices and support.
    The bike is offered as part of the kickstarter project.
    That means that there is no contract between the sponsor and the company. Therefore it does not come under the EU end-user protection laws. ( in particular remote selling protection)
    The current experience of Kickstarters for the SPEEDX LEOPARD project has been iin EU abysmal. No delivery yet and very poor communication. Combined with the impossibility to withdraw from the scheme once signed-up. The 7 day no question return policy is also useless since the company request that the end –user pay for the return shipment ( about 600 dollars)
    If this bike was offered as a normal sale from a EU based company it could join head-on the crowded market of “Endurace” bikes with the like of BMC, Bianchi, Canyon, Rose Bikes, Focus etc , but as it is I would not touch it with a barge-pole.

  12. Yonah

    For the Polar shirt – I’m intrigued by it. I practice a lot of Judo. But we have a strict no hard objects rule, so I never wear an HRM during training – I wonder are there other soft HRM sensors out there that I could wear during MA training?

  13. Jose I

    Does the Polar shirt track respiration and body temp?

  14. Henrik

    Suunto Spartan wasn’t as good as everyone expected.
    Polar releases a shirt and a heart rate sensor.

    It’s easy being Garmin at the moment.

  15. Kyle

    Hey that unicorn stem looks like the new speedx speedforce cycling computer I just got today, only about a year delayed…#pitfallsofindiegogo #myfirstunboxing

  16. Detlev

    The motivring is a very interesting approach. It would be interesting to read first hands on or test results. Curious to see accuracy of optical heart rate and resting heart rate measurement. Also compatibility to Garmin connect would be perfect.
    Do you have any plans to test the ring?

  17. William

    I am more comfortable taking the extra few minutes to mount my Garmin and other accessories than having them all built-in. I will have to bring in the whole bike just to fix the accessories if something is not working. What if Speedx is out of business?!?

  18. Bryony

    Has the Withings Steel HR watch actually been released yet as I cant seem to find one to buy in the UK!

    Are they good at just the basic function as suggested or is the HR element just not really worth it? I cant find a review on here for them.

    Thank you very much.

    B