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CES 2018: 20 most innovative gadgets at show
USA TODAY  2018-01-07

LAS VEGAS — The trade portion of the Consumer Electronics Show will open Tuesday, but we've got a sneak peek at some of the coolest technology set to debut there.


Each year, the Consumer Technology Association, which stages the CES, selects 20 products for the CES Innovation Awards, "honoring outstanding design and engineering," in consumer tech products. 


The categories are varied, everything from 3D printing, computer accessories, home appliances, home speakers, robots and cameras. The rules are that the items have to be released between April 2017 and April 2018.




Highlights:


—Buddy is a personal robot. Think of him as Alexa with big eyes, because he can do many of the same things, like reading the weather or offering you great recipes.


—The security camera robot, the AR4X camera, which promises to recognize faces, and turns security from passive to proactive. The idea is that the camera learns your face and lets you by, but when a stranger is lurking, the camera knows, and sends the owner an alert.


—Olie is a new smart lamp from a company called InstruMMents, which responds to commands via Amazon’s Alexa or the Google Assistant, and also doubles as a wireless charger for your smartphone.


—Nura is a new style $400 headphone that calls itself


"the first self-learning headphones to literally adapt to your unique hearing using soundwave technology," while BeoSound Shape is an odd-shaped, long, flat speaker resembling a soundbar.


—Nuviz is a $700 display unit for motorcycle helmets, offering navigation, built-in action camera and music, adding a little more distraction while you drive.


—Aipoly isn't a gadget, but it wants to change the way we shop, offering artificial intelligence and an app to replace the store checkout, and re-stocking. This is similar to a concept store Amazon set up in Seattle in early 2017, but if it takes off, and say Best Buy, Target and others signed up, our shopping would be way easier all over the world, not just with Amazon,


—Mars is a new line of earbuds that will be marketed in Asia in early 2018, promising real-time language translation. That's similar to Google Pixel Buds, which went on sale in late fall. 


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Some clunkers are also on the list. Despite having debuted at the 2017 CES and winning many accolades for offering women a new way to pump milk for babies, the Willow Breast Pump made the CES Best of Show list. The company had said the product would be out in the spring, but has never gone beyond a “beta” offering that asks consumers to write an essay first about why they want it, and await invites to eventually buy the product.


Another golden oldie, the Nissan Leaf car, first introduced in 2011, yet somehow made the CES list.


On its website, CES doesn’t offer any explanations on how the products were chosen. The CTA does say that each product category has a three-member judging team composed of an independent designer, engineer and a member of the trade press.


But let’s face it, the award list is 100% different from what we in the press will tell you was the best of CES.


The rest of the winners: AMD Ryzen Thread Ripper computer processor; Astell & Kern Ultimate SP1000 high-resolution $3,500 music player; Dell Ocean bound plastics packaging from the computer maker; Ethereal Hello 3D printer; the Light camera, which has 16 image sensors for DSLR quality in the size of a smartphone; Hewlett Packard's 3D camera, a high-end scanner; Intel Movidus Neural Compute Stick to learn Artificial Intelligence programming; the Kensington VeriMade USB Fingerprint key; Lancey's battery powered space heater and the Trident 3 Arctic gaming computer. 


Follow USA TODAY's Ed Baig and Mike Snider, along with myself, who are covering CES, along with columnists Jennifer Jolly and Marc Saltzman. 

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