Tag Archives: launchit

Old tech gets a hot new makeover at CES

by Steve Blum • , , ,

It seemed you couldn’t walk down an aisle at CES without seeing an electric bicycle, or an electronic accessory for the human powered kind. Like the Wink Bar, which took top honors at the Showstoppers LaunchIt pitchfest, held the day before the show formally opened.

Wink Bar.

The Wink Bar, developed and sold by Velco, a Paris-based start up, was declared the best of the twelve new products pitched in rapid fire succession to a panel of four judges with deep experience in venture capital and entrepreneurial enterprises. It’s a high tech handlebar that links to your smartphone and guides you through unfamiliar cities with simple flashing lights that cue you to start and stop, and go right and left. It’s sold through bike shops for $279.

It’s more than simple route planning, though. It’s also a platform for tourism and bike sharing services – Velco’s partners use it to create tour routes through cities. Customers can ride safely and quickly with their eyes on the road, and not on a map or smartphone screen. The company sold 70,000 Wink Bars last year and is targeting 14 million units in annual sales by 2021.

The rest of the field was…

  • Athom – hub that controls home automation and entertainment technology.
  • Big Boy Systems – headset that records 3D video and audio, just as a human would.
  • Cardiomo Care – wearable analytical device for heart disease prevention.
  • Cinema Snowglobes – another old-into-new transformation, with the venerable snow globe reimagined as a video snack (pictured above).
  • Cubomania – interactive, educational cubes for kids.
  • Pebby Corp. – a networked, robotic ball that lets you play with your dog while he’s at home and you’re at work.
  • Picoo – wands that kids use to play elaborate games of tag.
  • Robomart – self driving store for grocery retailers.
  • SolarGaps – solar cells.
  • Stream – internationally roaming WiFi hotspots.
  • Zhor-Tech – smart shoes that analyse your gait and tell you, among other things, if you’re drunk.

Cleverpet wins CES Launchit competition with electronic game hub for dogs

by Steve Blum • , , , , ,

An electronic game for dogs won top honors yesterday at the Showstoppers Launchit competition for startups at CES. Cleverpet is basically a canine version of the old Simon game combined with an automated feeding station that dispenses a little bit of food when the dog hits the correct lighted pad. It gives dogs something to do when they’re locked up in an apartment all day while the rest of the family is at work.

“A dog with a job is a happy dog”, said Leo Trottier, Cleverpet’s CEO during his lightning pitch to the judges. “Our user base literally has nothing better to do with their time”.

The plan is to turn the feeding station into a hub, with monitoring capabilities for anxious pet owners and different activities scattered throughout the house, so the dog gets some exercise out of it.

Second place went to Sevenhugs, a French company that produces a universal, location aware remote control. You point it at what you want to operate – a television set or Nest thermostat, say – and it automagically knows what to do. You could even set it up so that if you point it at a window, it’ll give you a weather update.

Coming in third was Bartesian, a Canadian company which aims to become the “Keurig of cocktails”. It looks something like a high tech espresso machine, except there are four reservoirs for liquids. One is for water, the other three for your favorite booze. You then buy the little Keurig-like capsules, which contain all the pre-mixed non-alcoholic ingredients for a fancy cocktail, plop one in and it mixes flawless drinks for you and your guests.

There were a total of 15 companies in the scrum.

Enplug wins the Eureka Park pitchfest at CES

by Steve Blum • , , ,

A company with an interactively focused digital signage platform was the best of the bunch at this afternoon’s Showstoppers Launch.it competition at CES. Enplug CEO Nanxi Liu was the first of 11 entrepreneurs who gave a 5 minute presentation telling why they should be funded, and then took 3 minutes of questions from a panel of angel investors. At the end, the panel voted LA-based Enplug the winner.

Second and third place went to Israeli companies – VocalZoom and SwitchBee respectively. VocalZoom demoed core noise cancelling technology that’s built around a laser sensor that reads speech off of facial skin vibrations. SwitchBee is a home automation platform built around a proprietary hub and easily-installed light switches.

Enplug offers a platform that allows anyone with a Mac or Windows machine to turn any digital display into interactive digital signage. It was a surprising pick, in a sense: with $3.7 million in angel financing already in the bank and a major display maker – ViewSonic – bundling it with their products, it’s really a bit beyond the angel stage that the competition was targeting. But it also has customers and revenue, which makes it an attractive play.

Other contenders included a noise cancelling earplug from Hush, base IoT technology developed by Carbon Origins, a wrist band from Sunfriend that tracks sun exposure, the Lert.ly personal safety monitor designed for the elderly, a baseball bat swing analyser by Diamond Kinetics, a wristband that holds your password information from Everykey, whole-house mood lighting from LumFi and Smart Wheels, a tiny cross between a skateboard and a Segway.

All are exhibiting at Eureka Park, a growing pavilion of early stage companies and entrepreneurs at CES.