Redbrick's CES 2016 Wrap Up   | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Redbrick’s CES 2016 Wrap Up

The Consumer Electronics Show is famous for predicting the coming year's technology trends. Here are Redbrick's Sci & Tech team rounding up what will sink and what will swim in 2016.

The world’s first manned drone has been unveiled! The £200,000 drone, which is controlled by an app, is powered for a 23 minute flight after 2 hours of charging.
The drone can carry 100kg of weight, translating to one person with luggage, to a height of 300-500 metres at top speeds of 63 mph. Developers hope to get the drone to 3,500 metres, with safety features to ensure an emergency landing if one of the four rotor blades malfunctions.
Passengers can set “take-off” and “landing” positions on the app. As the passenger is not driving the drone, it has been claimed that no license will be required for travel. Drones can fly in open spaces in the UK, but it is unlikely that a manned, uncontrollable drone will be legal to use.
By Rachel Taylor
Don’t you hate it when your phone dies and you have no way of charging it? Your battery’s dead, your spare battery and your power bank too. What’s a student to do but sulk and wait till they get to the nearest socket? Well, this year AMPware is coming to your rescue, with a nifty hand crank built into your iPhone case, which can help you regain battery wherever you may be. This useful tool requires only 5 minutes of winding, to give you up to 20 minutes of talk time and almost an hour of battery. Originally born from a crowdfunded campaign and inspired by the power outages that followed Hurricaine Katrina, this case hopes to help you stay connected no matter the situation. Avalaible from Indiegogo, the company hopes to ship by March this year.
By Roshni Patel
These days it seems everything is connected to the internet, from our lights to our toasters. So it’s no surprise when Pi Labs launched their internet connected rubber duck, Edwin, at CES this year; who is as the company’s tag line suggests is “No ordinary duck”. This is because Edwin isn’t just a yellow duck: he’s animated too, inside the accompanying app, where you can play games with Edwin and even use him as the controller. Not only is he great for games, educational and fun, he’s fully waterproof with Bluetooth speakers and a night light feature, making him a great friend for kids everywhere.
By Roshni Patel
Pi lab
Edwin the Duck
You received the Swegway for Christmas, it’s awesome, and now Lexus have unveiled a Hoverboard. Are we going to be flying around campus like Marty McFly in the near future? Watching the promotional video makes you think you can fly around a skate park and even across water. But the whole area is actually staged. The hoverboard requires a magnetic track to run on, which has been built into the skate park. The board also requires constant cooling by liquid nitrogen. This means only 10-15 minutes of play time before it needs to be refilled, which can take another 15 minutes. So you can’t just pick one up and go, because you’re restricted by fuel (super-coolant) and a certain set track. It also took the pro skater in the video several months to become good enough for filming. Unsurprisingly, you won’t be able to buy one – this is just a Lexus marketing stunt getting us way too excited.
By Ian Rogers
CES 2016 saw the introduction of an olfactory alarm clock called ‘Sensorwake’ that is set to change the way we wake up. The idea of Sensorwake is that at a set time, the clock releases powerful and concentrated scents such as espresso, and these scents will cause arousal from sleep. Supposedly, the clock will wake you from sleep within two minutes of the scent being released, with an emergency alarm going off during the third minute. The clock comes in at $109 with the scent capsules at $10 each.
As exciting and appealing as this sounds, studies have shown that our olfactory system is inactive during sleep, posing an obvious problem for this gadget. I can see this alarm clock working if we are in a stage of light sleep, known as REM (rapid eye movements), although doubt it would work during deeper phases of sleep, during which the body is more relaxed and systems such as the olfactory system are not functional.
By Rachel Kahn
Guillaume Rolland
Around 1 in 100 people have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder which causes inflammation of the gut on ingestion of gluten. Others have a slight sensitivity to gluten, or a gluten intolerance, and many choose to go gluten-free as a lifestyle choice. 6SensorLabs have created a portable way to test food for gluten, by creating a capsule with a ‘mini chemistry lab’ within, which can find traces of gluten.
The CEO’s have described it as ‘life-changing’ to many, as it makes dining out stress-free for those who suffer with the disease. However, celiac’s are generally aware of the foods they can eat, and would not necessarily need the device. Nowadays restaurants have many gluten-free options, so by being priced at $249, and with the disposable capsules costing $3.99 each, the Nima seems to be priced unrealistically high. Perhaps, this product would be more suitable for restaurants themselves, so they can accurately test food before giving it to their customers.
By Ellen Daugherty
How many times have you thought “I really wish my umbrella was smarter”? None? Really? Regardless, a French company called Wezzoo have created an umbrella which solves this particular problem. Oombrella is capable of connecting to a smartphone app which transmits weather alerts, warning users when it is due to rain, and that they should take Oombrella with them before they leave the house.
For the more forgetful, Oombrella will send a message using a GPS tracker if it’s left behind, for example in a lecture theatre, or a restaurant. While many of us will relate to the experience of getting caught in an unexpected downpour, a “connected umbrella” seems a little unnecessary. Here at Redbrick, we’re sceptical about whether Oombrella can really be useful enough to justify what is bound to be a hefty price tag.
By Ellie Patten
Under Armour are launching their new way of recording running and fitness data through your running shoes. This new product, which will be released on February 29th, is likely to cost around $150 and claims to be a more accurate way of recording how far you run and how many steps you have taken. Being located within the shoe aims to reduce the number of false recordings.
Additionally, after 450 miles you’ll need to buy a new pair of shoes and the data recorder will tell you when it’s time to do so. These aren’t the only pair of smart sneakers coming on the market, with rivalry from Xiaomi and Nike. Amateur runners are likely to see the appeal, however, for simply keeping up with personal fitness, buying a standard pair of trainers and downloading one of the many free fitness tracking apps such as Nike+ may be more appealing.
By Charlotte Ward
Under Armour
Smart Sneakers
Already being dubbed as the Batmobile for its stylish exterior, the Faraday Future FFZero1 concept car, on show at CES this year, hopes to disrupt the auto industry with its new radical ideas. Some of their designs include a modular foundation which would allow for the easy reconfiguration of parts to add more fuel cells or to create other types electric vehicles. Backed by Chinese internet TV provider LeTV, they hope their first vehicles will be rolling off the lines in 2018. However, with Tesla already dominating the market with their current models, will the FFZero1 be too late?
By Roshni Patel
Faraday Future
Withings’ new activity tracker is a simple wearable that can be slotted into either a wristband or a clip. The Go can count the number of steps walked, calories burned and even monitor sleeping habits. It is even waterproof so activity can be tracked whilst swimming. The Go has a simple E Ink display which shows how far you’ve progressed towards your goal with a simple dial display and shows a star when a goal has been achieved, so progress can be checked with one glance. It is paired with the Health Mate app which shows more details about your goals. The Go has a battery that will need to be replaced around every 8 months and will cost less than £50.
By Kara Watson
Withings Go
This thin patch is capable of measuring the amount of UV rays skin is exposed to. The patch is a sticker which can be placed directly on to the skin, and can be worn on any part of the body that is exposed to UV light: hands, arms, legs, and even faces. The patch can remain on skin for up to five days, measuring UV levels.
The design could be considered feminine, so my not be particularly appealing to the male market. There are plans to launch the sticker in 16 countries this summer including the UK, and the best news is that the stickers will be free! The sticker is made up of blue photosensitive dye, which changes colour over exposure time, warning users when they may need to apply sunscreen or seek the shade. To discover the amount of UV rays you have been exposed to, a photo of the sticker can be uploaded to the L’Oréal app.
By Amy Thompson
My UV Patch
The latest in headphone technology, the Dash was launched this year by technology company BRAGI. They are the first ever smart wireless headphones. So what makes them different to other wireless headphones? Like all other wireless headphones they can stream music using Bluetooth, but what makes them special is that they can store audio files, with a storage capacity of up to 4GB, so listeners don’t have to carry a device which is Bluetooth enabled in order to listen to music. Additional points that make them unique include an inbuilt fitness tracker and external sensors allowing you to control the volume and to turn off the sound, so you can hear external noise so that they don’t need to be removed intermittently.
By Amy Thompson
Dash Wireless Earbuds
Every year they come and every year they return back to the drawing board. Smart fridges are nothing new at CES, and this year Samsung’s features a giant 21.5in touch-screen on the door, which is basically a large android tablet, which will allow users to see which products they have, if they’re running low, and will allow food to be re-ordered from the door. New for this year are: cameras to let you see what’s in the fridge while you’re at the shops, an app to control other smart devices (lights, thermostat) and even apps to play music and check Facebook from the fridge.
By Roshni Patel
Family Hub Refrigerator


27th January 2016 at 12:16 pm

Images from

Lexus, AMPware, Wezzoo, Sensorwake, L'Oreal, Withings, Alex Butterfield, Faraday Future, 6Sensor Labs, Samsung, Bragi and DC Rainmaker