In an anime-inspired night in New York full of gadgets and characters from “Sailor Moon,” San Francisco startup Whistle showed off its activity tracking device for dogs alongside Samsung’s hot new Galaxy NX camera. For Whistle, it was a chance to reveal some of its plans two weeks after announcing it had raised $6 million in a Series A round led by venture capital firm DCM. “We’ve essentially sold out our initial batch of preorders,” Steven Eidelman, co-founder and head of product with Whistle, told Xconomy. “We’re shipping later this summer.”
Last Thursday night’s Digital Experience event let consumer electronics makers, big and small, display their latest devices in advance of CE Week, which is currently underway in New York. Digital Experience, presented by events company Pepcom, is not affiliated with the weeklong festivities hosted in the city by the Consumer Electronics Association. The night brought together an array of Bluetooth speakers, connected cameras, mobile apps, and wearable activity trackers for dogs.
Eidelman says Whistle’s device, priced at about $100 and one of several competing products on the way to market, gives pet owners a sense of how mobile their dogs are throughout the day. “We translate that activity into walking, resting, playing and tell you also how your dog compares to similar dogs,” he says. “We’re building a comparative database across breeds for the first time around what dog behavior and activity looks like.”
That data, he says, can be presented on owners’ smartphones and shared with veterinarians, family, and friends. Eidelman says Whistle is developing other smart products that capture information in tandem with the dog activity tracker, but that it is too soon to give specifics.
Digital Experience offered a bevy of other new gadgets to ogle. Just days after its London debut, Samsung brought out the Galaxy NX, which—according to the company—is the world’s first 4G LTE and Wi-Fi-connected interchangeable lens camera. Built around a 20.3 megapixel sensor, the Galaxy NX is powered by the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system, with access to apps from Google Play. Pricing details are not yet available though the camera is expected to go to market in the second half of the year.
For the audiophiles at the event, Creative Labs in Milpitas, CA, brought out its Sound Blaster EVO ZxR and Zx headphones built with the same chipset as its latest generation of PC sound cards. The company says that hardware gives the headphones virtual 5.1 multichannel surround sound as well as technology that analyzes and replaces missing highs and lows from compressed audio.
This CrystalVoice restoration technology, also found on the company’s audio cards, typically comes into play with online music streams that squash minute details of sound in the compression process.
The EVO headsets can connect via analog, USB, or Bluetooth to other devices such as tablets. Two microphones discreetly built into the body of the headset are angled toward the user’s face and can determine which sounds come from the user’s mouth versus other sources. A mobile app lets users control the different features in the headsets. The ZxR model can also detect and cancel background noise from incoming phone calls and is expected to be available in August for about $300. The Zx line is due in July for a little less than $230.
Creative Labs has also jumped into the Bluetooth speaker fight, a segment already brimming with rivals. The company’s Airwave speakers shipped to market in early June, priced at about $100. In addition to Bluetooth connectivity, Airwave speakers include near-field communications technology that lets them pair with smartphones. Up to two Bluetooth-enabled devices can connect simultaneously to each Airwave speaker, which runs for 12 hours on a battery charge. The smaller, yet more powerful, Airwave HD speaker is priced at a bit less than $150 and lasts for seven hours on one charge.
Meanwhile Logitech, which has its U.S. headquarters in Newark, CA, made some noise with its Ultimate Ears (UE) Boom Bluetooth speakers. Available online, these cylindrical water and stain resistant speakers play sound in 360 degrees and run on a 15-hour charge. Two speakers can be linked together for left-right audio and each has a microphone built in. The UE Boom speakers were released in May and priced at about $200 each.