CES 2014: 3D Cameras, Practical Robots and Wearable Tech

Via Forbes.com:

The Pebble Watch

The pace at which we are accelerating technology from entertainment devices into objects and connected devices that we can use in our every day lives or helps us live better, is in high gear.

Less than a year ago, PrimeSense, acquired by Apple in November 2013, was at CES with some budding young companies that were convinced we were at the beginning of a growth market with sensors in hardware. One year later one of those companies, Matterport, has now become the first company to make a 3D camera and bring it to market.

The Matterport 3D Camera showing the underlying mesh that is captured

The Matterport 3D camera is controlled using an iPad app and uses a melange of 2D and 3D sensors to capture the appearance and dimensions of a space. It calculates interior dimensions, captures objects, colors and textures. And it works just as well if the room is empty, under construction or cluttered with furniture or machinery. It’s extra advantage, the cloud, because the images are generated in the cloud, it makes it easier to share with other people or colleagues.

The Matterport 3D Camera

Matterport, along with a growing and diverse list of companies like Qualcomm’s Augmented Reality (AR) platform, Vuforia and Spain’s leading AR company, Catchoom, want to create a stronger bridge between the physical and digital world — an actionable, immersive, data-rich 3D environment and experience that can be applied to a variety of industries, not just games and entertainment.

Matterport says anyone can use the camera, but they will first focus on markets that can use the technology right away and have it help them do their jobs better – construction, home improvement and insurance are the first target markets, other applications could be tourist agencies, criminal and forensic scientists and retailers.

A new French robotics company debuted its entertainment robot, Keecker which is really a connected robotic device — meaning it unifies all the entertainment systems in your house – command central so to speak, the Roomba for entertainment. The robot is equipped with video projection and a powerful 360° audio & video capture system that lets you project movies, listen to music, browse the web, make video calls and play games, but not clean floors.

The company claims Keecker can also be used to check home analytics (temperature, humidity, sound level, light level, CO2 level) or for security purposes, so you can monitor your home remotely from the road. Through apps, you could receive alerts based on events you select, like turn on the lights in the evening.

But features distract from the primary focus of the robot and also puts the company in the competitive market as their fellow French connected device makers – Netamo and Withings (See Forbes CES 2013 feature) which also make devices that monitor your home’s environment.

The company did not disclose its funding.

Shifting back to the company that pioneered in home robots, iRobot continues to drive its practical robot agenda into the market place. The company believes that robots are going to challenge traditional cleaning methods in 2014 and they are re inventing its products from the inside out. At CES, iRobot debuted a new platform for wet floor cleaning called the Scooba 450 Floor Scrubbing Robot. Just because it cleans the floors doesn’t make it any less robotically advanced.

The new iRobot Scooba® 450 floor scrubbing robot sweeps and pre-soaks, scrubs and squeegees hard floors, washing away up to 99.3% of bacteria

The Scooba 450 usess some seriously advanced robotic technologies including increased intelligence in terms of  navigation and behavior for more efficient cleaning. So, the Scooba 450 is thinking, intelligently navigating itself and deep cleaning. More and more like the Jetson’s Rosie the Robot without the back talk.

The Scooba also happens to be the only hard floor scrubbing robot on the market.

But maybe it’s wearable tech that’s stealing the show. From start ups on Kickstarter to Intel announcing its plans – smart earbuds for starters — wearable tech is having its day.

Analyst firm Canalys estimates that more than  330,000 smart watches were shipped in 2012 and that was led by Sony and Motorola.

Kickstarter-backed Pebble Technology has joined Sony as a market leader in 2013; and more than 500,000 units were expected to have shipped in 2013. The firm believes that smart watches will explode by the end of 2014 as a new generation of connected devices from Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung and others move into market.

So this brings us to the 70s flashback Swatch meets high technology; the Pebble Watch. The company raised $10 million on Kickstarter to get the project off the ground. The watch costs $150 USD and its expected to ship to Kickstarter supporters on January 23, 2014. The Pebble Watch, which you can customize with colors to suit your personality (a la Swatch style) syncs to Android devices and iPhones.

Back to the quantified self, the Basis Band combines three apps into a sophisticated hardware device — heart rate monitor, sleep tracking and pedometer so no more fitness apps to download on your phone if you use this device. The sensors inside this smart health watch device also track skin temperature and perspiration levels with the over all goal to promote a healthy and stress free lifestyle.

From the big guns, Intel, their smart earbuds fall into the health category as well — they monitor your heart rate and match songs to your heart rate in the moment. So as your heart rate changes, so does your play list. The earbuds, which are not available yet, use your biometric data with an app where you can set target heart rates, say for your work out, to your music set.