The MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer.
Whirlpool’s CoolVox refrigerator.
Parrot’s Flower Power plant monitor.
The HAPIfork.
Belkin’s WeMo baby monitor.
GreenWave Reality’s new Connected Lighting Solution.

Back to the Future

An intrepid techie reports on new products and prototypes from the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show

LAS VEGAS, January 8, 2013—It’s possible Wallis Simpson was actually referring to futuristic television sets when she issued her famed “You can never be too rich or too thin” dictum. The newest must-have sets for your Super Bowl or Oscars viewing party boast if-only-real-life-looked-this-good picture quality and are thin enough to actually bend. LG Electronics and Samsung each unveiled 55-inch, curved OLED (organic light emitting diode) sets at the Consumer Electronics Show with Duchess-esque pricetags of over $10,000.


Apparently, you also can never be too smart—if you’re an automobile, that is. We saw cars equipped with technologies that predict traffic patterns, anticipate road danger, protect against nearby objects and more. One fully automated, futuristic model from Lexus will even pilot you to work in the morning. We’ve ordered one in black; here’s what else caught our eye while we awaited delivery:  


A New Dimension

Long-awaited 3D printers are now a reality. The MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer lets amateur and professional designers alike create complex models, utensils, toys, prototypes and art by layering thermoplastic filament in a rainbow of colors. Users create designs with CAD apps or easy-to-use, open-source modeling programs. $2,200; makerbot.com


Dig This

Not all of us were endowed with green thumbs. That’s where Parrot’s Flower Power plant monitor comes into play. When inserted into a pot, this sensor—designed to blend in with the foliage—monitors such environmental variables as sunlight, temperature, pH level and humidity. Now in prototype stage, Flower Power (which can be moved from pot to pot and works outside) sends data to the Cloud so users can access it via a mobile phone, tablet or other smart device. Price and release date to be determined. parrot.com


Digital Diet

As if your mother weren’t enough, now there’s a utensil that tells you when you’re eating too fast. Makers of the HAPIfork claim it helps users watch their weight by tracking every time the fork touches their lips. Eat too fast and the utensil starts to vibrate. The idea is to discourage the tendency to continue eating before the brain has a chance to signal that the diner is full. The product also monitors other eating habits and can send the data to a smart device. Made in France, it will hit the U.S. in late 2013. $99; hapilabs.com

 

Green Light

GreenWave Reality’s new Connected Lighting Solution enables consumers to easily control and automate lighting using a handheld remote, tablet or smart phone. Simply plug the GreenWave box into your router and set up controls on your smart phone and this system becomes a powerful energy- and money-saver that will even respond to motion sensors, illuminating rooms only when light is needed. Four-bulb kit with wireless controller box and remote control sells for around $200; greenwavereality.com

 

Oh Baby

Let’s face it, parents can never get enough information about their little ones. Belkin’s WeMo baby monitor not only allows parents to use their iPhone or iTouch as a receiver, but it works in conjunction with an app that detects sleeping and crying patterns. Parents can then track and analyze data and provide an optimal sleeping environment.  $89.99; belkin.com


Hi-Fi Fridge

Not yet available in the U.S., Whirlpool’s CoolVox refrigerator streams music via Bluetooth to a robust speaker in its door. It’s quite the space saver for homeowners who prefer not to clutter their countertops with speakers. Time will tell if this product will make it to the U.S. whirlpool.com 


Cathy Applefeld Olson is based in Alexandria, Virginia.