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Originally published January 10, 2014 at 8:01 PM | Page modified January 11, 2014 at 7:58 AM

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Six cool, fun tech gadgets from CES 2014

Among the thousands of new products on display at the Consumer Electronics Show, here are a few that caught my eye because they are kind of fun, aren’t too outrageous and seem to represent emerging trends.


Seattle Times technology columnist

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This is a trade show, sadly no general admission. Have tried several times. No entry... MORE

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LAS VEGAS — With thousands of new products on display, it’s hard to choose the coolest or most exciting product at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

But here are a few that caught my eye because they are kind of fun, aren’t too outrageous and seem to represent emerging trends.

Get crafty

Product: Here’s a fun and affordable introduction to 3-D printing. It’s a wireless printer that makes rubber stamps, for craft projects. Casio calls it the “Pomrie” in Japan but in the U.S. it’s being sold as the Stamp Maker. Designs are created on a PC, then printed on sheets of stamp material and applied to a stamp base.

Price: Casio plans to sell the device for $80, sheets of stamp material for $2.50 and stamp bases for $5.

For the dogs

Product: What’s more fun than a wearable computer? A wearable computer on a dog. Like the Voyce collar, which keeps track of Fido’s activity, heart rate, calories burned and breaths per minute. It’s charged with a USB cable and syncs wirelessly with a display console viewable on phones, tablets and PCs. Future versions may track location. Maybe someday it will summon a scoop-toting drone when the dog squats.

Price: Voyce will begin selling the collar in spring for $299. It will also charge $15 for a companion Web service that includes training and pet-health information.

Tweets on TV

Product: The 8 percent or so of people who regularly use Twitter may be interested in the “social viewing” feature on Sony’s new connected TV sets. It can display a flurry of tweets, chattering about what’s on or whatever you’re interested in, across the bottom of the display. If that’s not enough distraction from the show you’re watching, you can video chat via Skype at the same time. Usage is optional, a Sony rep told me.

Price: Included with 90 percent of Sony’s new TV lineup, starting in April.

Going retro

Product: Look out phablets, here comes the Brick, a retro-styled handset that London-based Binatone is bringing to the U.S. this year after launching them in Europe last fall. The Brick works as cellphone if you add a GSM SIM card, or it can be used with another cellphone, as an auxiliary handset that connects via Bluetooth.

“We thought retro shoes, clothing, future, housing — everything is retro — how come the biggest computer product isn't retro yet?” said designer Simon Lorenz.

Price: $70 to $100.

Smart watch follow-up

Product: I think of the Martian Notifier as a kind of smartwatch, and a sign of how the “smart” device space is being quickly refined. It’s the follow-up to smarter watches that Martian introduced last year with all sorts of features, including voice commands, remote control of a phone camera and hands-free texting.

Pundits liked those $249 to $299 watches, but customers asked for one that was less expensive and easier to use, so the company is releasing the less smart Notifier in the second quarter. It displays alerts and notification in a small display below its dial and lets users customize vibration patterns, so they can identify alerts by feel, without having to look at the device.

Price: $129.

Tennis love

Product: I thought digitizing tennis would make it less fun, but Sony’s Tennis Sensor does a nice job “gamifying” the game, while being unobtrusive and just about invisible. The prototype embeds a sensor in the handle of an actual racket to measure and track ball speed, swing speed and ball spin.

There’s no display on the racket; you’ve got to check a phone to see how your swings compare with other players’ efforts. At the very least, it would make it less boring to practice by hitting against a wall.

Price: Not for sale.

Brier Dudley’s column appears Mondays. Reach him at 206-515-5687 or bdudley@seattletimes.com



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About Brier Dudley

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.
bdudley@seattletimes.com | 206-515-5687

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