While I was at CES this year, I ran into a clever little product. The name is a bit confusing. ChargeCard sounds like it should be a backup battery or a wireless money transfer system. It’s actually a USB or iOS charging cable that folds up to roughly the size of a credit card. That way you can keep your charging cable with you, no matter the size of your purse. Well, you still have to carry the outlet adapter with you, but that still cuts down considerably on space.
The middle section plugs into a standard USB port, and the end plugs either into an iOS (legacy or lightening) or micro USB port. The ChargeCard is made by a team of four people out in Anaheim and was funded with a Kickstarter campaign. The prototypes were 3D printed. The company plans to keep production inside the US as they expand with a more streamlined production process.
Now, when I tried this out, I had an iPad – maybe not the greatest idea. (They didn’t have a micro USB prototype for me to try at the time.) The weight of the iPad makes it pretty impractical to plug into something this small for charging unless you’ve got a very well positioned outlet. However, my husband borrowed it to charge an iPod, and it was perfect. I love a simple, clever solution to a problem. I’m also a sucker for startups.
If you wanted to give them a try, you can now pre-order. ChargeCard is offering us a discount code. Their website is here. Use the code “geekmom” for 20% off of your purchase, no matter how big or small.
CES is one of my favorite conferences to attend, because it offers a small glimpse into the future. Sometimes it’s an alternate future where crazy and impractical products are funded and introduced, but it’s a great way to see trends. A lot of companies pre-announce products that they plan to introduce later in the year, so you can’t always count on the product actually hitting the shelves.
This year, sensors are all over the place. Parrot is introducing a sensor that will tell you when your plants need to be watered. It also comes with an app to tell you about plant care, so even people who thought they were brown thumbs would have a chance at gardening. An entire section of the trade show floor is dedicated to step sensors, heart monitors, and other self-care sensors that work with your smart phone. There’s even a fork that senses how fast you eat and gives you feedback to encourage slower meals. Several companies introduced sensors that can be used to track lost children or adults. One company cleverly had the sensor inside a phone-watch that could be called by up to five different pre-approved numbers.
Your next phone is probably going to be a phablet, and it’s probably going to be waterproof. It’s going to connect wirelessly with everything using NFC assist to make Bluetooth pairing faster, and it’s going to charge inductively. Companies would really like you to upgrade your TV into an ultra-high resolution screen. Sony is even willing to re-digitize portions of their media holdings to get you to do it. Sony didn’t mention a word about 3D TV, by the way. Hisense introduced a glasses-free 3D TV. (The results were better than one of those Cracker Jack prizes that you tilt to see it move, but still not as good as The Hobbit in high frame rate.)
There are also battling robots in the future, and your car will always know where you’ve parked (and probably will rat you out to your insurance company if you speed). Your camera will run Android, even if it is not your phone. No hover boards so far, but there are a few days of trade show left.
I just got back from CES, and boy is it great to be back where there aren’t over 150,000 people competing for Internet access. As it turned out, I walked close to two marathons in Las Vegas during during my week at the show.
Lots of people asked me what cool things I’d seen at the show, and I’d find myself repeatedly reaching into my pocket and pulling out my Striiv. (Full disclosure: I was provided with a review unit.) I’ve tried a lot of fitness devices, and I was sometimes wearing three at once during CES, but this was by far my favorite. It’s hard to make technology well, but it’s even harder to make technology fun. [Editor’s Note: GeekMom Amy Kraft has also given Striiv a thumb’s up.]
The Striiv is a small pedometer with a touch screen interface. It’s available from Amazon for a retail price of $99. The charge lasts approximately one week, and it uses a generic USB interface for charging and logging activity. It also comes with a keychain or belt holder. Out of curiosity, I left it in my pajama pockets as I slept, and it logged no steps from my tossing and turning, but it did just fine logging steps – a lot of steps – on the CES floor.
Ok, so it logs steps. What’s so special about that?
The Striiv interface logs steps and also gives you equivalent stairs, miles, and calories and tracks your averages over time. That’s great info, but just getting raw data isn’t enough. Striiv makes it fun. It awards badges for achievements like burning off an ice cream sundae or walking the distance of the Grand Canyon. You can also play a gardening game that uses the power of your foot energy to grow plants and bring back virtual animals to your own enchanted island.
Every Day Is a Walkathon
One of the most motivating features I found was the real world charity donations. You can choose between clean water, rain forest preservation, or polio vaccines. Once you walk enough, your steps will achieve real-world donations to your chosen causes from Striiv and corporate partners. Don’t feel motivated to walk for yourself? Walk to provide a child with clean drinking water or a polio vaccine.
When you check your steps, you’ll sometimes be offered extra challenges, like reach 114 steps in five minutes. You make a point bet that you can complete the challenge within the time limit, and you’re rewarded if you succeed but penalized if you fail. You can also spin the wheel and give yourself challenges anytime you feel like it. If you have a friend or spouse with a Striiv, you can make bets with each other (over short range and only with the newest devices).
In short, if you’re shopping for a pedometer, don’t settle for dry data. Find a device that motivates you to move. The Striiv has it, and I saw nothing but raves from the people using them, including Christy Matte, the fellow mom blogger and educational technologist who first showed me her Striiv and told me I just had to meet the company. She was right.