“The OC, has got tech”
More screens in more places, to keep people more connected than ever before (or is it more distracted?). That was the big theme behind the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. Here’s a rundown of some of the new products and services that Orange County companies showed there.
TINY, WEARABLE SCREENS
Fountain Valley-based MEDL Mobile showed off a Google Glass version of its social networking app, Hang With. It streams live video and audio from Google Glass to the people using the app on Android phones and iPhones. Glass features a tiny screen positioned right in front of your eye as well as an outward facing camera that can show people the world as you see it. Meanwhile, Hyundai, whose U.S. operation is based in Costa Mesa, also showed an app for Glass that lets customers start their car and unlock its doors remotely, or find it by getting directions.
At the other extreme, Irvine-based Vizio announced a television that might be too large for many living rooms. It’s a full 120 eye-melting inches across, in UltraHD, no price mentioned. If that’s too much for you, Vizio also announced a 50 inch UltraHD set that comes in at $1,000. But be warned: UltraHD adds millions more pixels in front of your eyes but risks being a feature that, like 3D and the earliest HD sets, may be rarely, if ever, enjoyed. It requires compatible programming, and that’s just not available in quantity yet.
A NEW REALITY
Oculus, the virtual reality startup from Irvine, took the wraps off its newest prototype, code named Crystal Cove. It ups the clarity of the VR experience and provides full-motion tracking. The startup, recently funded with $75 million of venture capital, shipped nearly 50,000 developer kits at $300 apiece. Those early devices used technology that tracks head movement to create an immersive VR experience, but one in which it feels like your body is paralyzed and your head can move. That can make its wearer feel sick. The new goggles use an external camera to let the wearer lean forward, backward and side to side and have that movement mirrored inside the virtual world.
UPDATING THE WATCH
Gadgets introduced by Irvine companies Martian Watches and Incipio keep you more connected to your smartphone. Incipio’s notification pod sits on a desk or other surface and lights up in different colors when apps on your phone have something to tell you. It goes on sale next month for $40. Martian, which makes a Siri-powered smart watch that sells for more than $200, is stripping out some features and cutting the cost to about $130. The new watch ditches a microphone and speaker, which makes it slimmer. It still connects to your cell phone and vibrates in different patterns depending which app on your phone is trying to tell you something. Text of the message is displayed on a small screen embedded on the analog watch face.
Mophie, an iPhone case maker from Tustin that’s been focused on extending battery life, debuted a new product that sounds ingenious for phone users who are shooting too many photos and videos. The company’s Space Pack doubles battery life but will also work with an app to add 16 or 32 GB of storage to an iPhone. It costs $150 to $180 and should ship in March.