The 21 Coolest Gadgets at CE Week 2016

The year is half over—are we in the future yet?

By Jacqueline Emigh

This June, as in earlier years, consumer electronics makers from around the world flocked to New York City for CE Week. At the Metropolitan Pavilion and neighboring Altman Building, companies previewed tons of new gadgets eyed for release ahead of the 2016 holiday season and CES 2017.

Meandering through the maze of booths in Manhattan, we saw new cameras, headphones, smartphone accessories, audio speakers, drones, printers, toys, and a whole lot more. Gizmos galore incorporated such technologies as sensors, 3D, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and energy conversion. While some of these gadgets have recently become available for purchase, many won't show up for sale online (except maybe by preorder) or in stores until August or beyond.

Here, in no particular order of importance, are the 21 coolest gadgets at CE Week 2016.

SuperStar Monster Blaster

This summer, blast your favorite tunes at the beach or at backyard barbecues with the SuperStar Monster Blaster. Monster is "reimagining" the boombox craze of the 1980s with this ramped-up digital music player, which centers on Bluetooth instead of on cassette tapes as in the old days. Also aboard the Blaster are NFC for quick pairing, 3.5mm aux-in for connecting to an audio source, and a 3.5mm microphone level input so you can use your mic while playing music.

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In a press conference at CE Week, Monster CEO Noel Lee told reporters that he hopes kids will use the Blaster to work out their energies in "healthy" ways, by playing music and dancing instead of fighting. To that end, Monster is launching a "Taking It to the Streets" campaign featuring partnerships with retailers, sports teams, break dancers, and R&B musicians. Of course, people of any age can use the Blaster to groove to any musical genre. Yeah, rock and rollers, that means you! Monster is offering the Blaster online in gray or black for $399.95.

Portable Speaker/Water Bottle

If you don't want to lug a boombox around with you, no problem: You can still share your music just about anywhere you go with the upcoming Re-fuel 2-in-1 Bluetooth Speaker and BPA Free Water Bottle. While its official name is a large mouthful, this handy hybrid device is small enough to fit easily into a backpack or shoulder bag. A staffer in the Re-fuel booth referred to it as "Music in a Bottle."

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In addition to being Bluetooth-enabled, the speaker/bottle contains a mini-SD slot. Shipment is scheduled for August at a list price of $29.99.

Internet Walkie-Talkie

Orion Labs' new Onyx is touted as an "Internet walkie-talkie with unlimited range." The one-touch wearable works with Bluetooth LE and a companion smartphone app to let you hold multiuser, conference-style phone calls with iPhone and Android phone users worldwide. You can set up different groups—such as work groups and sports team groups—for various types of conversations.

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Offered for preorder in rose, cobalt, black, or silver, the circular device comes with a built-in clip for attaching it to a piece of clothing or jewelry, or to a handbag strap. Onyx costs $249.99 for a pack of two devices, as Orion Labs Founder and CEO Jesse Robbins told us in a demo at Orion's booth.

Wi-Fi–Capable Baby Monitor

MonBaby, a wearable sensor device for babies, has been out on the market for about a year now, selling for $169. Through its Bluetooth-enabled app, the buttonlike device alerts parents to falls, stomach sleeping, and other unusual movements by babies.

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Newly announced by MonDevices is a MonBridge app that transforms the Bluetooth signal into Wi-Fi, acting as a range extender so you can check on your baby from farther away in the house.

3D Mini Printer

Wearables are likely to keep heating up over the holiday season ahead, as are 3D printers. Robo3D, an old hand in the relatively new consumer side of the 3D printer business, is currently prepping a portable model called the R2 Mini Printer for September release, at an as yet unspecified price.

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This is the first 3D printer from Robo3D to support remote control via smartphone. You'll be able to do things like print and pause from afar, as well as to load filaments (the spooled materials used for building 3D objects). The iPhone app, to be available first, will be followed soon thereafter by an Android app, Robo3D reps told us. Robo3D is also developing new scented filaments, along with 3D DIY kits that will include all of the 3D hardware components and files needed to create useful objects such as drones, guitars, and headphones.

Pioneer's Next Speakers

Pioneer, a top player in home audio speakers for decades, is readying a new lineup for the 2016 holidays. At CE Week, the consumer electronics giant delivered first looks at its forthcoming X-CM56 and two smaller pairs of speakers.

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The X-CM56, the flagship model of the group, can be set up in a vertical or horizontal orientation, features built-in Wi-Fi and NFC, and offers support for multiple audio sources, such as CD and USB. All three models are almost ready to roll, but Pioneer is still making decisions about such details as what types of wood finishes to use. Various models may be available in white, black, or both colors; a silver-colored finish may be an option, too, Techwalla was told. The speakers will start shipping in Q3 and Q4.

Truly Waterproof iPad Case

A water-resistant case isn't necessarily waterproof. But Catalyst has just released a protective case for the iPad Pro that it claims is the first entirely waterproof model on the market. Consistent with that special status, the case carries an IP-68 rating, meaning that it is waterproof to depths of 5 meters (16.4 feet).

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With this case in place, you can drop an iPad into a swimming pool without harming the device, according to Catalyst reps. You can even shoot videos from underwater. Cases are now available for 9.7-inch iPad Pro (for $119.99) and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (for $149.99). Catalyst had already shipped a 100 percent waterproof case for the iPad Mini 4 (priced at $89.99), and another one is in the works for the Air.

Beddi Alarm Clock

Sure. You can use a cell phone, new or old, as an alarm clock. But why not go for something with better wake-up functionality? At CE Week, Witti showed a future series of three Beddi Intelligent Alarm Clocks.

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Pictured at right is the top entry in the lineup. Its features include app enablement; Uber integration; Spotify; 16-million-color mood and wake-up lighting; Bluetooth audio, with FM radio and white-noise generator; three configurable "smart home buttons"; two USB charging ports; traffic and weather reports; and a smartphone cradle.

iHome Alarm Clock

Meanwhile, iHome has assembled a variety of takes on alarm clocks, too. Now under development—as part of the company’s Charging Alarm Clock series—is an alarm clock/three-way charger.

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When you set the wake-up alarm for the next day, you can also plug in an Apple Watch, an Apple Lightning device, and a USB-1 device, so that all three will be ready to go when you get up in the morning. The clock/charger shown at CE Week is a prototype version; iHome hasn’t yet set a release date for it. The clock/charger is not to be confused with the "multifunction alarm clock radio" that iHome introduced at the show as part of its Color Changing product series.

Monster's Elements Over-Ear Headphones

In conjunction with its SuperStar Monster Blaster boombox announcement, Monster rolled out plans to release its Elements over-ear headphones on July 12. They will be available in five colors, including rose gold and black slate.

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Priced at $349.95, the Bluetooth-enabled headphones will feature powerful batteries capable of delivering 24 hours of playing time and several weeks of standby time, along your choice of two custom sound profiles: "Natural" and "Club." Monster also has plans to develop future Elements headphones that will include on-ear and in-ear models.

Cleer's DU Wireless Over-Ear Headphones

At its booth at CE Week, Cleer previewed a new set of Bluetooth headphones dubbed the DU Wireless.

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Scheduled to arrive in August, these full circumaural headphones feature passive noise isolation, a flexible design, changeable soft-leather pads, up to 20 hours of playing time for music between recharges, and custom dual drivers on each side.

Kinetic Energy Cell Phone Chargers

What do a baby carriage and a suitcase have in common? Here’s a hint: A baby carriage has wheels (as do most pieces of luggage these days).

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Uncharted Play is harnessing the kinetic (in-motion) energy produced by such devices to power built-in cell phone chargers. The technology primarily targets Third World countries where conventional electrical power is scarce, a company rep at the booth acknowledged. Uncharted Play has already sold Soccket balls to corporations and charities for distribution overseas. This enhanced soccer ball converts kinetic energy produced when a child kicks the ball into electrical energy to power an LED reading light. The light is housed right inside the ball.

Beverage Power

Global Ionics takes a different approach to energy. The vendor has licensed technology that uses energy generated by the human body—together with an AAA battery and a patented voltage booster—to generate a small, safe electrical current that improves the taste of beverages.

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The Beverage Power device attaches to any glass, cup, or water bottle. While you drink the beverage inside the container, your hand touches an "acti-strip" on the side of the glass. According to Global Ionics, when the beverage touches your mouth, the electronic circuit is complete. Negative ions then enter the body, improving the flavor that the tongue senses. No actual Beverage Power product is on the market yet, but the concept is cool enough to have earned Global Ionics a CE Week "Best in Show" award for 2016.

Videogame-Inspired Toys

For generations, kids have stayed indoors with their eyes glued to TVs, and now the same thing is happening with videogames. A company named A-Champs wants to change that situation by encouraging children to run and play outside with neighborhood pals.

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Slated for release in September, A-Champs' play paraphernalia revolves around wireless ROXs toys with sensors, speakers, and multicolor LED lights. Kids chase the ROXs, touch them, and tag them. Also on the way from A-Champs are a main console for registering players, selecting games, and keeping score, plus a belt for mounting ROXs around a person’s waist or on a tree or wall. Retailing for $129, a "Roxs box" will contain a main console, three Roxs, three holster/strap/belts, game instructions and a carrying bag.

AR Printer

LifePrint's future portable printer will use thermal technology to print out instant photos from your iPhone, Android phone, or GoPro via Bluetooth—without any need for ink or toner. And unlike other gadgets in its general category, it will be able to print GoPro clips, Instagram videos, Apple Live Photos, GIFs, and Vines.

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Through an accompanying app, you'll be able to see how these video images move, loop, and rewind. The product is still under development, so LifePrint showed a prototype printer at CE Week.

First 3D Lens for GoPro

For GoPro cameras, a startup called Vitrima has just started to ship an add-on lens that lets you film videos in stereoscopic 3D.

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It's a large lens with mirrors that split light, producing different images for the left and right eyes. When the video is complete, others can view the combined images through a VR headset such as Google Cardboard. The lens is priced at $129.

VR Drone

Drones seem to be everywhere these days, but this one would be hard for anyone to miss. With its $15,000 price tag and ten built-in cameras, DroneVolt’s Janus 360 VR Drone isn't something you're likely to take to the park for a fun little spin.

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Designed for 360-degree VR content production, the Janus targets commercial users in areas such as cinematography, tourism, advertising, and real estate.

Action Cam for Fishing Trips

For obvious reasons, action cameras are often mounted. At CE Week, WASPcam gave a sneak peek at a new camera that will come with a special mount for fishing rods. With the mount in place, you won’t have any worries about positioning the camera as you reel in a Big One.

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In the photo above, the camera in question is the one at center. At left is the already-shipping WASPcam Tact, which offers standard mounts, The vendor is also readying the WASPcam 4K (at right)—a higher-end camera with standard mounts—for future release.

Video Toothbrush

Many people pay close attention to their dental health, but there is still room for innovation in this area. To help folks maintain their smiles in between checkups, Onvi is introducing the Prophix Video Toothbrush).

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As you use the rotating brush, the device’s videocamera captures the inside of your mouth on video for live display via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, using an iOS companion app. The toothbrush also comes with a set of instruments—a rubber tip, a mirror, and a prophy cup—similar to the ones your dentist uses. Slated for shipment in the first quarter of 2017, the dentally proactive toothbrush is available for preorder at $299.

Car Finder

At least once in your life, you've probably forgotten where you parked your car. Well, Nonda’s ZUS car charger does more than charge up your phone: It also helps you find a lost vehicle.

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Using your phone's GPS radio and Bluetooth, it stores a record of the car's location in your phone's memory whenever you park the car in a new place on the street or in an open-air parking lot. ZUS is already shipping, at a price of $29.99.

NordicTrack Mattress with iFit Sleep

NordicTrack introduced a smart mattress at CE Week that certainly qualifies as one of the biggest gadgets at the show—and some people might consider it the best. The iFit Sleep mattress is designed to measure heart and respiratory rates while you snooze. This information can then be integrated into custom training routines on NordicTrack's home fitness machines. The mattress is also built with CellFlex materials that pivot up or down and left or right to lessen motion transfer and improve the quality of your sleep.

The mattress comes with a small circular monitoring device. In the photo below, the device is positioned at the bottom of the mattress. In actual use, though, you place it under the sheets, just beneath the spot where you'll be resting for the night.

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Photo credits: Jacqueline Emigh