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Rachel Metz

A View from Rachel Metz

CES 2013: Some of the Best Gadgets and Apps on Show

Some cool electronics and software emerge as the annual trade show gets underway in Las Vegas.

  • January 7, 2013

The annual electronics love-fest known as CES has just taken over the Las Vegas Convention Center yet again, and in addition to all the biggest announcements of the show, there are plenty of smaller ones piquing our interest. Among the more neat-sounding ones that have surfaced:

Lost luggage?

A company called Trakdot will offer a “palm-sized” luggage tracker that you can slip into your suitcase and use with pretty much any cellphone. According to the company’s announcement, after you register your gadget on Trakdot’s website, it will send your phone a text or email letting you know where it is (you can also use the company’s smartphone app or check your suitcase’s location on Trakdot’s site). If you’re using the app with the Trackdot, it will send you an alert when your bag is near you on a luggage carousel at the airport, the company says. The company says each Trakdot can be linked to several phones. The device is expected to be available for $50 in March; it will require a $9 activiation fee and a $13 annual fee for service.

Location, location

Glympse, which already makes a location-sharing smartphone app, now says its technology will work with Ford’s Sync in-car software, allowing drivers to share their locations with others by speaking. If you use Sync in your car and you have Glympse running on an Android smartphone or an iPhone, the feature is activated when your phone is connected to the car via USB or Bluetooth, Glympse says. You can press the Sync voice button your steering wheel and say, “Send Glympse” to broadcast your location to loved ones via e-mail, a cellphone number, Facebook, or Twitter. (Recipients of your location data don’t have to have the Glympse app; they can view your ever-changing whereabouts through a browser.)

Internet-enabled everything

Belkin had already been dipping its toes into the burgeoning “Internet of Things” category with its WeMo family of Internet-connected electronics that enable home automation (such as an outlet switch that lets you turn gadgets on or off via a smartphone). Now Belkin hopes other companies will add WeMo technology to their devices through its WeMo Smart platform, which it announced Monday. The first company to do so will be Jarden Consumer Solutions, which owns a number of houseware brands and will include WeMo tech on products that carry the Sunbeam, Crock-Pot, Oster and Mr. Coffee names. Belkin says Jarden’s first WeMo-enabled products will come out this year.

Cute camera

And camera makor Canon has unveiled the PowerShot N, which is a tiny, cute-looking 12-megapixel digital camera that consists mainly of an 8x optical-zoom lens jutting out from the center of its 1.2-inch-thick body and a tiltable 2.8-inch touch-screen on its rear. The PowerShot N is meant to be used from any angle: its shutter and zoom buttons surround the lens, Canon says, so you can easily take photos in different orientations. Users can wirelessly send photos to an Android smartphone or iPhone using a Canon app, and an “eco mode” meant to conserve battery life by dimming and then turning off the camera’s screen if it hasn’t been used for 10 seconds. Canon plans to ship the device for $300 in April.

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