Martine Stillman
Mechanical Engineering Program Lead

CES 2017 - Product Highlights from the Consumer Electronics Show

By now you probably know the basics of CES. It’s huge! It’s overwhelming! There are 150,000 people! There are a lot of polo shirts! That’s all true and the scale is vast. As a product development engineer, one of the most compelling parts of CES is walking the show floor and taking in what’s new, what’s evolving, and what trends are emerging.

CES really puts the “consumer” in Consumer Electronics Show. This show is designed for products you buy off the shelf. There is very little altruism, and most products are smaller than a breadbox. While it’s hard to imagine that what the world really needs is 20 different smart pillows, the show can provide interesting insights into the state of current and future technologies.

The most apparent movement in technology — it’s getting ever smaller. Miniaturization means hardware can fit in novel places. For example, Vuzix glasses are a wearable glasses with a great heads-up display and basically a full Android phone built into the earpieces. Flexible and ultrathin batteries are a miniaturization technology that has taken a big step forward this year. 

Vuzix AR3000 – Augmented Reality Smart Glasses
Source: Vuzix

Temp Traq is a product built around the BlueSpark flexible printed carbon battery, which is a disposable adhesive thermometer for use with sick infants. The ultra-thin battery can fuel a Bluetooth connection to your phone for 24 hours, which is pretty impressive!

Personal health, home medical, and wearable devices were all big at CES this year. One area where these three come together, and my personal “best in show” vote, was the Willow wearable breast pump. I had the pleasure of working with the Willow team earlier this year, and it was a bit of a passion project for me. As a new mom, the first time I used a breast pump I thought “Seriously?? We MUST be able to do better than THIS!” 

The architecture and implementation of Willow is radically different from anything else on the market. 

Willow wearable breast pump

The previous state-of-the-art in this field was bulky, loud, complicated, and difficult to clean. Willow has addressed each aspect in a novel way, for an end product that is head and shoulders above the competition. This device is a great example of the gains you can achieve when you re-imagine an old product from the ground up.  

Solpad

Another “best in show” product for me was SolPad. SolPad aims to revolutionize the solar power market, simply by addressing implementation problems. They make panels for your roof that click together as easily as Legos, as well as a portable stand-up panel model with USB and wall plugs. Their technology isn’t new, and while this appears at first to just be a slick repackaging job of an old technology, I believe their user-centric design approach is unique within the solar power industry. The world is becoming more conscious of energy usage, and products that allow average users to decrease their footprint will be enormously compelling in the coming years. However, implementation complexity and cost is still huge. SolPad is a perfect reminder to us all that if a product is hard to use, the design can be a failure from the start.

Another area that continues to see growth and a lot of coverage at CES is wearables, and now technology is found in everything from dog collars to socks. Unlike previous years, many of the best wearables this year seemed to be addressing interesting corner cases.

Equisense

EquiSense is a company making a horse wearable. A horse wearable?? Horses are certainly a big investment and most people don’t live in the same building with them. Horses are prone to a fatal illness called colic, which can set in at practically any time and be fatal within 8 hours. So, a sensor that detects colic is a big development for horse owners. They’re also making a training wearable, which can give you metrics on your horse’s performance. It’s a niche product, but useful for people in that niche.

Drones, cars, and headphones fill up a building the size of two football fields, so any article is just scratching the surface of what CES offers. It was great to be a part of the Cambridge Consultants+Synapse booth this year. Synapse’s demo of the 49ers Stadium was very popular, and Cambridge’s demos like the Skintuition proof-of-concept drew a lot of curious visitors. 

San Francisco 49ers Connected Stadium
Cambridge Consultants Skintuition

Between Synapse and Cambridge, we met and hosted attendees from Sodexo to General Motors and the booth felt like a buzzing hive of tech at all times. The mix of awesome people, fascinating projects, and huge technology missions was an incredible thing to be part of. Come join us next year at CES!

See what else is new...

May 5, 2017

Expanding the Synapse Braintrust

At Synapse, we've broadened our domain expertise into industrial and agricultural sectors, helping our clients accelerate innovation and time to market.

April 26, 2017

Digital Security for Connected Devices

Digital security and privacy are important parts of system design of digital products large and small, but are often overlooked until late in the development process. Here, we discuss the current state of security for connected products and the Internet of Things, and discuss systems engineering strategies for bringing secure products to market.

See what else is new...

May 16, 2017

WE Local - San Jose

A few months ago, two Synapse engineers attended the Society of Women Engineers local event in San Jose. Throughout the three day conference, Kathy and Martine presented a session on prototyping and attended keynotes, workshops, and presentations.

May 17, 2017

Synapse at Game Developers Conference 2017

Two Synapsters had the opportunity to attend the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. They were thrilled to support Synapse’s clients in the virtual reality space and learn more about VR hardware startups.

April 18, 2017

Better Interviewing Through Neuroscience

Hiring decisions are some of the most crucial decisions we make at Synapse, which is why we're making changes to our interviewing process to encourage system 2 thinking.