Tag Archives: plantronics

Santa Cruz tech rolls out at CES

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Plantronic’s Esther Yoon demos the Backbeat Fit at CES.

Two Santa Cruz companies were among the thousands of exhibitors at the Consumer Electronics Show, which wrapped up in Las Vegas last weekend – one industry veteran, Plantronics, and one start up, Future Motion, which is just hitting its stride. Both were on hand at Pepcom’s media showcase.

Future Motion introduced the Onewheel+, the latest version of a motorised balance beam skateboard with, naturally, just one wheel. It has two horsepower electric motor and can hit speeds of 19 miles per hour. It’s designed to be easier to ride than version 1.0, and comes with a smart phone app that’ll let you set it up the way you like it – gentle or go for broke.

“It feels like you’re snowboarding on powder”, said CEO Kyle Doerksen. The product has found its audience, he said. Initially, it was uphill work explaining what the Onewheel is all about. Now that it’s out there, people have a point of reference and can understand the features.


CES spotlight on Onewheel+.

Everything except manufacturing – design, sales and marketing, customer – happens at Future Motion’s headquarters in the Wrigley building in Santa Cruz. The product is made in San Jose.

Plantronics showcased two new wireless headsets, the Backbeat Fit and the Backbeat Pro 2. The Pro 2 is a wireless over-the-ears headset – high quality audio with noise cancelling technology, plus mics for phone functionality.

The Fit was designed with Santa Cruz in mind. It’s a flexible, rubbery headset that’s waterproof and designed to stay in your ears even if you a do backflip. Or a flip in some other direction – handy for surfing. The earpieces don’t completely your ear, so if you want wear it while you’re out running, you can still cars and whatever else is around you.

A third local company, Scotts Valley-based Pearl Automation, was also represented. CEO and co-founder Bryson Gardener appeared on a panel, speaking about life hacks for tech-centric families. Pearl makes an aftermarket back up camera for cars.

Santa Cruz companies look for developer love in Las Vegas

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Wayne Torres-Rivera, Seebright’s developer community manager, pitches next-gen headset at CES.

There were as many companies from Santa Cruz exhibiting at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas as there were from all of South America. And twice as many as Africa. Which is to say, there were 2. One was Plantronics aimed at, among other things, robotics, security and authentication applications, and supported by SDKs for the developers they hope to attract.

The other Santa Cruz company was Seebright, a virtual and augmented reality start-up. Its booth was jammed with people trying on the company’s first generation headset, which uses a smart phone – pretty much any Android or iOS device with a screen in the 5 to 6 inch range – to either place a translucent 3D overlay on the real world or drive an immersive virtual reality experience.

A second generation headset with a much slicker look is in the pipeline, with plans to take it to Kickstarter, perhaps as soon as February. Target price is $150 for the headset and included hand-held controller. Using a physical device rather than gestures is part of the company’s strategy of targeting gamers and industrial app developers, who need a higher level of control granularity.

“Vertical markets are going to be very important for this,” said Bill Keating, Seebright’s COO. An SDK is available and the company particularly wants to appeal to developers with an interest in adding a virtual or augmented reality experience to existing apps.

So far, apps developed for the Seebright headset include a virtual art gallery and a treatment for lazy eye disorder.