The latest in gadgets at CES: robots that think, and a HK$1,000 smart mug for your coffee

Gadgets of the future won’t just have great connectivity but will be able to analyse and think, IBM chief says. New gadgets out include a self-tightening shoe, a breathalyer for fat burning, and a battery-powered mug that keeps coffee at slurping temperature for 2 hours

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 January, 2016, 1:09pm
UPDATED : Friday, 05 January, 2018, 11:57am

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES( in Las Vegas opened on Wednesday. These are some of the latest developments from the giant global fair.

IBM CEO Virginia Rometty says the future of gadgets is not just connectivity, but the ability to analyse and “think”.

SEE ALSO: Six consumer tech trends coming in 2016: drones that follow you, robots, virtual reality (again) and self-driving cars

While IBM isn't known for consumer technology, Rometty argued that her company's “Watson” artificial brain can enhance a variety of consumer products. In a talk at the CES, she announced new partnerships with three companies that will use Watson, the IBM “cognitive computing” system.

SEE ALSO: CES 2016: wearables war hots up, and wake up to the smell of coffee ... from your alarm clock

Under Armour, the sports clothing maker, is releasing a fitness app that uses Watson to analyse a users’ activity, weight and other data to make personalised recommendations for diet and exercise. Medtronic, which makes medical equipment, has developed an app that uses Watson to help diabetics track their blood sugar level, diet and other factors to warn them of impending hypoglycemic events up to three hours in advance.

SEE ALSO: Home tech to get outing at CES includes phone-controlled oven, smart dishwasher

Rometty also introduced a humanoid robot, Pepper, made by Japan’s SoftBank, that uses Watson’s intelligence to work as a mobile concierge in banks and stores. The robot uses voice recognition and synthesis to answer questions and recommend products based on the data it collects from customers.

Don’t forget to recharge your coffee mug.

Some people slurp their coffee while it’s piping hot, others warm their hands with it till it cools to a drinkable temperature. A smart mug called Ember aims to keep it at the perfect temperature for two hours using a rechargeable battery.

A touch-sensitive logo indicates the temperature at which your java is resting, while turning the ring at the bottom lets you adjust that up or down. Apparently, most people enjoy their coffee at 57 to 60 degrees Celsius. A pop-up lid means you can drink from any direction without searching for the opening.

Pre-orders for the Ember cost US$129 and delivery is expected in May.

They aren't Marty McFly's self-lacing sneakers from Back to the Future, but Digitsole’s shoes promise to tighten and loosen with a touch of a smartphone app.

The French company says the pair on display at this week’s CES gadget show in Las Vegas will sell for US$450 starting around October.

Another French company says it has solved the problem of matching one’s shoes to one’s outfit.

Shoe retailer Eram teamed up with tech firm BlueGriot to invent Choose, a shoe that the company says changes colours based on photos a person takes – including images taken of a person’s other attire.

Sony unveiled a prototype TV capable of showing 4K programming with a brightness level it claims is four times as bright as its competitors.

Using a technology it called Backlight Master Drive, the company said its prototype TV could emit 4,000 nits of brightness, which is four times as high as the 1,000 nits boasted by competitors LG and Samsung on their liquid crystal display TVs. It’s about 10 times brighter than most sets today.

The company said the technology was unique to Sony. It also said it would launch an app called Ultra so users could buy and stream 4K movies encoded for a new standard called high dynamic range (HDR).

A breathalyser for fat-burning? The folks at Seattle-based Levl claim to have come up with just that.

Blow into a small container for about five seconds, then put it in a sensor-laden machine, and out pops a report that purports to tell you how much acetone you’re producing. A number around 4 on a 5-point scale suggests you’re incinerating the lipids. Below that and you might want to cut back on the carbs and get some exercise.

A few days of changed behaviour can make a difference, the company says. The app is designed to encourage users who can manage a long streak of fat-burning; it estimates how many calories they’ll burn in fat per day. But there’s one big gotcha: drinking alcohol could throw off the reading and make it seem like you’re burning more fat than you are.

The company aims to sell the product this year but hasn’t determined a price.