Our 5 Favorite Products From CES 2017

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LAS VEGAS—The Consumer Electronics Showcase is the first big tech event of the year, and we were there to take it all in.

Every January, 170,000+ attendees ranging from retail buyers scouting for the next homerun product to industry analysts hunting for new trends to journalists sent to cover the new gadgets and pitches from exhibitors big and small, trek to Vegas for the enormous show.

While we were there to showcase C.H.I.P. Pro and two new third-party products powered by it, we did find a few minutes to walk the show floor. Though we didn’t see everything, we did see some exciting products. Here are 5 of the highlights.

Customizable Keyboards

Sensel makes it easy to swap keyboard layouts on the fly

Sensel makes it easy to swap keyboard layouts on the fly

The Sensel Morph is a customizable keyboard that uses flexible rubber overlays to change the keyboard’s physical design and how your computer uses it for input. Underneath the overlay is a highly sensitive multi-touch pad that the company says is made up of 20,000 individual sensors. It looks a lot like a big trackpad and can detect tapping of fingers and even brushstrokes.

Each overlay contains small magnets arranged in a unique pattern that identifies its function and layout to your computer. Overlays range in purpose from a drum pad and easel design to the more familiar QWERTY and DVORAK keyboard layouts. In total, Sensel offers 10 different overlays.

The multi-touch pad sells for $249.99 and keyboard overlays are $24.99 each. Morph is currently available for preorder and projected to ship in February 2017.


The Internet of Hugs

Send a hug to a distant friend with Parihug

Send a hug to a distant friend with Parihug

Parihug brings distant friends and loved ones closer together with internet connected hugging teddy bears. Each Parihug comes with two soft teddy bears and a smartphone app. Once the bears and phone app are configured, let the hugging begin.

Hug one bear and the other bear expresses the same type of hug you gave the first bear. Give a quick squeeze or a long embrace, and these bears will know and show the difference. Hugs can also be sent to bears using the smartphone app.

The creators, Xyla Foxlin and Harshita Gupta, hope to be in production by Q1 of 2017 and are currently looking for product testers. Send ’em a message on their site if you think you have what it takes.


LEGO Boosts its Programmable Kits

The Lego TKTK

The Lego Boost kit

The Lego Boost is the latest programmable brick-system from the classic building kit company. Designed to get kids interested in building and programming, the kit includes 840 standard Lego pieces and introduces the new programmable Move Hub brick.

The new Lego Move Hub, motor, and sensor for color and distance

The new Lego Move Hub, motor, and sensor for color and distance

Move Hub features two built-in motor encoders, a button, a tilt sensor, and Bluetooth Low Energy for communication with other devices. It’s basically a small computer that’s enclosed in a big Lego brick. Programming Move Hub is done using a free tablet app and an icon-based programming language. Once a program is written, upload your new code to Move Hub over a BLE connection, and your program will begin to run.

Boost is expected on stores shelves in August 2017, and it’s sure to be a hit.


Stay focused with Freewrite

Golden Freewrite

Golden Freewrite

The Freewrite is a connected keyboard that’s reminiscent of the AlphaSmart of the late 1990s. Freewrite combines an e-ink display, mechanical keyboard, and cloud services with the hope that people will be less distracted writing on a product that only has one main application and no notifications.

While the $499 price tag is not cheap, the Freewrite is comfortable to type on, and the eink is sharp even in a poorly lit convention center. If you’re looking for a single purpose device to help remove clutter and distraction from your writing, the Freewrite might be for you.


Print Circuit Boards Even on Flexible Material

The Squink PCB printer from Botfactory

The Squink PCB printer from Botfactory

The Squink PCB Printer from New York-based BotFactory can operate as a PCB printer to create a circuit board or as a pick-and-place machine to maneuver electronic components onto an existing PCB.

Working as a PCB printer, Squink can extrude a conductive ink or solder paste (depending on the mode it’s in) at a rate of 5 in² of pad area per hour. Printing can be done on traditional circuit board material like FR4 or flexible material like Kapton tape.

As a pick-and-place machine, Squink is much slower and only able to place 4 parts per hours. Arguably, this is slower than someone with a steady hand, but Squink doesn’t take lunch breaks or sick days.

The entry-level Squink Basic will set you back $3200, but it’s worth spending $800 more for the version that can print multi-layer PCBs. No question, Squink comes with a big price tag for an individual buyer, but it’s primarily intended for small businesses, shared workshops, or academic settings. If you need PCBs made in a hurry, Squink is one product to consider.


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Ultimately, CES is too enormous to see everything. If you were there and saw something cool we missed, let us know in the comments below.

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