by Mike Susa, Radius Innovation & Development (first published on Radius Insights)

Hot on the heels of CTA’s “CES 2018 Trends to Watch” presentation comes “CES Unveiled,” a chance for the media and a lucky few to get a glimpse of the newest products on display at CES this year. It’s great to see so much new hardware coming to the market, and with such a strong focus on the user experience and the needs of the consumer. Here are ten of the innovations that caught my eye, some for their creativity, some for their simplicity, and others because they are just very cool!

BrainCo started with a handful of distinguished research scientists and engineers from Harvard and MIT and have grown to more than 50 people in the USA and China. They have developed brain – machine interface hardware and software platform technologies that convert electrical signals from the brain to digital signals for use in various education, gaming, smart home applications as well as functioning prostheses. They have an impressive demo with a robot, controlled by brain waves, loading and unloading ping pong balls. This is one to watch for the future.

Electron claim to be able to turn any bike into an e-bike in 30 seconds, and their demo was proof for anyone that doubted them. The Electron Wheel fits most bikes with rim brakes, and doesn’t need any wires or throttles to operate. Just use your bike like you always have, but with the ease of a pedal assist experience. The wheel neutralizes most hills and allows you to commute without breaking a sweat. Of course, it comes with an app for your smartphone.

Kuri, from Mayfield Robotics, is the cutest robot and worthy of a mention because it heralds a new category of family friendly “companion robots” that use all the right enabling technologies of AI and voice and face recognition to drop seamlessly into our lives. Kuri is that friendly face that always greets members of the family, captures those special moments at home, learns its own way around your house, spotting obstacles like discarded toys. It can also play your favorite songs, podcasts or audio books. It’s a great example of good, friendly design that creates a unique user experience.

PostMii have connected the desire to post selfies with desire to send postcards to create an unusual interactive experience for tourists. Mounted on a bike and powered by solar panels, this interactive system allows tourists to take selfies, augment the image by adding glasses or a hat, plus images of the locations, then print it as a postcard. They can then write on the postcard and it is stamped and sent on site. A fun, simple product that uses augmented reality to create and print a unique postcard.

e-vone brought an innovative take on the shoe, this time with “falling technology”. Designed for elderly footwear, hikers and worker’s shoes or boots, this smart shoe can alert in the case of a fall. The shoes come in good designs and bring an extra dimension of support to the user.  A simple solution to a user experience where a panic button may not be the ideal product.

R-PUR is the first anti-pollution mask specifically designed for motorbike and bicycle users, and is designed and made in France. This mask allows you to breathe clean air by filtering toxic particles, fine particles / diesel, pollens as well as viruses and bacteria present in the air, all without compromising on comfort and style. This new generation filtering solution offers a protection greater than the highest European norm en149 – FFP3. Simple problem, simple solution and good design, and what’s more it’s connected and will tell you when the filter needs replacing.

AURASENS came with a great product, a great design and a great demo. There literature asks you to go beyond music and immerse your senses through vibration. The AURASENS Lounger is described as your trans-sensory vessel to audio-haptic pleasure. It is indeed a thing of beauty and the three-minute demo, in which you relax in the chair wearing an eye mask and headphones, is impressive. You can feel the music through every part of your body that touches the chair. The team have specific compositions but this product will have a developer’s, or composer’s kit, and a strong content offering. They are also working with some automobile OEMs to bring this haptic technology into vehicles.

Spartan stood out from the crowd with their staff wearing their underpants on the outside. Not because they’re super heroes, but because high-tech boxer briefs that protect your health from wi-fi and cellphone radiation is what they are promoting at CES this week. They claim 99% of wireless radiation is blocked, protecting the valuable contents from what many major scientific institutes believe can be harmful, particularly to fertility.

Velco, another French innovator, had a simple well designed solution for bike navigation that could avoid the need to use your smartphone or headphone whilst cycling. The aptly named winkbar has two indicators that fit on the handlebars of the bike. They act as navigation when connected to the inevitable mobile app, illuminating the lights to signal turns or incoming calls. They also act as flashlights or headlights, turning on automatically when needed and lastly they allow you to track your bike in the event of theft. A deserving winner of a CES Innovation Award.

Caveasy is a connected wine rack with an app that provides an ecosystem which lets you know when to drink your wines before they pass their best. Simply take a photo of the label on the app and place the bottle in the connected rack and it will let you know where it is when you’re looking for it, highlight when it should be best enjoyed and even offer suggestions on the strength of your previous choices.

These products are all very diverse but share some common qualities. The designs come from a solid understanding of the user and their needs, they are not over complicated or technology for its own sake, and they all share solid design roots and a desire to improve or enhance the life of the user.

We’ll see many more great ideas and designs throughout our week at CES, stay connected to find out more from our team at CES 2018.