Geek out! The annual International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held this week in Las Vegas, is the world’s largest gathering of consumer-tech companies and technophiles of all types. But hidden in the halls of technology are outdoors and fitness brands and dozens of gadgets that cater to the adventurous fringe. GearJunkie editor John Peacock is in Vegas this week trekking the trade show floor. Here’s a look at a few “products of the future” via the lens of our man on the ground at CES.
Water-Based Fuel Cell — Drip in some old-fashioned H20 to create electricity? That is the claim a Swedish company offers with its water-based fuel cell charger. It works via a chemical reaction between the hydrogen in water and “special electrodes and electrolytes” in fuel cells to generate electricity, according to the company, called myFC. It’s cited that as little as a tablespoon of water can begin to recharge a smartphone or GPS unit in the field. The unit, called the PowerTrekk, will cost $299 when it goes on sale in the United States this spring.
One-Battery Backup Cell Phone — It runs on a single AA battery. But the SpareOne cell phone can maintain its charge for years, the company cites, allowing you to keep the slim phone packed away just in case. Made for emergencies, international travel, and outdoors applications, the simple SpareOne phone can be left in a backpack emergency kit or a car trunk for long-term storage and emergency use.
After long storage, once powered on for use, the phone then can run for up to 10 hours of talk time on an Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA battery, which is included. $49.99, www.spareonephone.com
GPS Fitness Watch — The Switch Series of fitness watches borrow from Magellan’s knowledge in mapping technology to offer runners and cyclists built-in GPS. Track speed, distance, altitude and other fitness and geospatial stats via the watches’ “high sensitivity” GPS receivers, which the company touts are accurate to a range as small as 10 feet. $249.99 and up; www.magellangps.com/switch
Motion-Eye Control — It weighs just 10 grams and connects to almost any pair of sports glasses. The strangely-named Sportiiiis product offers the unique feature of multi-color L.E.D. lights that serve as “visual feedback” cues for exercisers monitoring heart rate, cadence, power, speed, or pace.
The device communicates wirelessly with watches and other fitness products and lights up in customizable patterns to allow athletes to monitor speed and stats without ever taking their eyes off the road. www.4iiii.com, $199
Solar E-Book Case — You can head outside or into the wilderness and unplug completely with the SolarKindle, an e-reader cover with an embedded solar array. The company, SolarFocus Technology, touts three months of unplugged Kindle reading time via its sun-charged case, which feeds solar power to the e-reader’s battery. $79.99, www.solarmio.com
Wheeled Shoes — They are called spnKiX, and these battery-power skates strap over your street shoes and feature motorized wheels controlled with a handheld remote. The skate frame is made of fiber-reinforced nylon, and the company cites “one motor and one battery pack per foot” for throttle and variable speed control. Bonus: The skates come with removable training wheels so you can learn to “ride” the spnKiX safer. Max speed is 10mph.
Handlebar Bike ‘Coach’ — Velocomp’s iBike POWERHOUSE product includes a water- and shock-resistant handlebar case for your iPhone plus a wireless speed/cadence sensor. The company’s apps work with the phone and sensors to guide riders through a series of bike-ride workouts. (“Pedal faster now!”) The goal of the all-in-one system is to promote better fitness, weight loss, or improved biking skill for newbies rolling with their phone. $269, www.ibikesports.com
Remote Control GoPro — Shipping next month, the Wi-Fi BacPac kit includes a module that attaches to the back of a GoPro HD HERO2 camera. An included remote then enables long-range video control via the wireless connection. The BacPac kit can also “talk” to a smartphone or tablet computer running a free GoPro app, allowing for touchscreen video control.
Music + GPS Watch — Music, fitness tools, and GPS features make the MOTOACTV from Motorola a first of its kind. The gadget can be worn as a watch or on an armband. It stores hundreds of songs and has mapping and fitness features for monitoring a workout. More, the device uses an algorithm that “learns what songs motivate you” for building custom music playlists engineered to push your workout up a notch. (Note: We ran a full review of this product on the blog.) Starts at $249; www.motoactv.com
Bluetooth HR — “Transform your smartphone into an all-in-one training partner.” That’s the claim from Wahoo Fitness, which unveils a Bluetooth-compatible heart rate monitor strap at CES. The company’s Blue HR product communicates with an iPhone or other Bluetooth-ready phones to give users real-time heart rate readings on their small screen. The strap then pairs with fitness apps on a phone to literally dial in your aerobic side. $79.99, www.wahoofitness.com
Underwater Camera Action — No, that’s not a ray gun. The UwaterDX “extreme dive lights” are waterproof flashlights made for scuba diving. The brightest model pierces dark underwater scenes with a sun-like 2,700-lumen beam that the company, Fitness Technologies, says is made for “the darkest underwater excursions.” That silver bullet on top is the company’s Uwater “action camera,” which is a machined-aluminum underwater shooter that can be used to 30 meters under the sea. The light/camera combo will run about $500 when it comes to market in March. www.fitnesstechusa.com
—GearJunkie is at the Consumer Electronics Show this week. Watch for updates from the trade show floor.