LAS VEGAS – Every year in early January a crop of shiny, new technologies is unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show, also known as CES. A handful of these new technologies will be very useful to entrepreneurs. The trick is finding them at a tradeshow with 2.2 million square feet of exhibit space overflowing with consumer goods ranging from TV's to toys to self-driving vehicles.
I've learned where to look for them. Annually for the past 10 years my agency, BIGfish PR, has launched at least one new entrepreneurial or innovative technology for our clients at CES. It's taught me where on the show floor to discover tech that could be useful to an entrepreneur. Whether it’s increasing productivity, saving time or money, traveling more easily or being more connected, there is always something new and useful to be found at the show.
Here are my top six technology picks from this latest CES that can truly help upgrade an entrepreneur’s business or life in general.
1. Never run out of storage on your phone.
Robin by Nextbit is a carrier agnostic Android phone that won’t let you down when you hit maximum storage capacity. Once the phone’s 32GB internal storage reaches capacity, the device automatically and intelligently moves your lesser used apps and content to the cloud where Robin owners have an additional 100GB of storage space. The phone has a 5.2-inch IPS LCD 1080P screen, a 2680 mAh battery and a fingerprint ID built into the side edge of the device for added security.
Robin comes with an unlocked sim card and is available for order through the Nextbit website for $399.
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2. Search and find patents like a pro.
CES saw the debut of a new search engine called Omnity.io that can run searches by full document rather than by keyword or key phrase. Currently, Omnity.io costs nothing to use and only searches through free, open content databases like Wikipedia and the U.S. Patent Office. Entrepreneurs can enter entire patent documents into Omnity.io and the search engine will use semantics and various components of the full document as the basis to find similar documents. Once the search is complete, Omnity.io will not only serve up search results but also provide a visualization of how closely related results are, which then can then be easily exported as a PDF file.
Omnity.io is currently free to use; however, the founding team tells me eventually there will be a moderate monthly fee to accompany a greater range of both free and paid databases that will be included in searches.
3. Make calls from loud places.
For entrepreneurs who work in open or shared office spaces, or regularly find themselves in really loud environments, there’s the Job Site Ear Buds from Tough Tested. These ear buds are designed specifically for construction workers and tradesmen to take calls while motorized equipment roars in the background, so there’s every reason to expect they will perform well in a noisy, high-energy start-up space. The ear bud cords are constructed with heavy gauge wire that is Kevlar reinforced, making them perfectly suited for the wear and tear of an entrepreneur on the go. Job Site Ear Buds employ EQ/VOICE technology and a Halo 360 microphone for good call clarity.
Job Site Ear Buds retail for $69.99 and are available for purchase at ToughTested.com
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4. Optimize your cell phone connectivity.
Mobile phones usually default to Wi-Fi over cellular connectivity for data usage. Most of the time this is a good thing as it keeps data costs down; however, there are times when a phone is just close enough to a router to pick up a faint Wi-Fi signal but is far enough from that router to only get a snail’s crawl worth of data. This can be infuriating, especially when the phone displays full bars for cellular service.
Enter Speedify Mobile from Connectify, Inc. a new app for Android or iOS devices that manages the combination of mobile data and Wi-Fi networks to deliver the fastest speeds available at any point in time. Speedify Mobile seamlessly hands-off between mobile networks and Wi-Fi networks so downloads and videos keep streaming over the fastest network available. Users can easily set Speedify to only use 4G LTE networks when Wi-Fi gets congested or fades out.
Speedify Mobile for Android and iOS is available for download at speedify.com. The first 1GB of Speedify Mobile managed data is free every month. After that it’s $4.99 per month or $29.99 per year.
5. Never miss an important call or message again.
Ditto is a super simple device that does one thing -- it vibrates when an important call or message comes into your phone. Ditto, made by SimpleMatters, is about the size of a bottle cap and can be clipped on to clothing where it can be discreetly concealed. The device, which is configured through a free Android or iOS app, can be set to vibrate on specific calls, texts and/or messages through third party apps including WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, Facebook and Snapchat. This can be a very useful tool for any entrepreneur who doesn’t always carry a phone but needs to always answer that important call. Ditto runs on a watch battery, so there is no recharging. The app will notify you when it’s time to change the battery.
Ditto comes in three colors: black, white and clear and retails for $39.95 at SimpleMatters.com.
6. Always know where your luggage is.
For those jam-packed flights where every overhead bin is full and the only option is to check a carry-on stuffed with business-critical items, there’s the Bluesmart Carry-on. The Bluesmart Carry-on suitcase has built in real-time location tracking and a remote locking system that is accessible through a companion mobile app. Bluesmart bags can be located anywhere in the world using the in-app tracking system, which uses both GPS and 3G. In addition to tracking, travelers can also lock and unlock the suitcase remotely from the app, so if your bag goes missing they have a better chance of getting it back with all contents intact.
The Bluesmart Carry-on is a bit steep, retailing for $399 but that's a small price to pay if you travel frequently with mission-critical items. Carry-on by Bluesmart is available for purchase at Bluesmart.com and later this year the company will be releasing a larger, checked luggage version of the smart suitcase.