Blog Date: 
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Charlie Cook

Hello again from toyland.. er, I mean Las Vegas.  We've wrapped up day 2 of CES and its continued to be an exciting adventure which has provided us with many new and interesting projects to pursue, and wonderful gadgets to dream of.

First on the list of gadgety fun, is the Allure thermostat.  Bit of a mixed bag to be honest, the tablet which acts as the control center for the temperature controls and does some double duty as a media viewer is not likely to be accessible to a blind consumer, but, and here's the part that's really exciting, it works with an iPhone app which appears to be quite pleasantly usable with VoiceOver.  As I only spent 5 minutes with the app in a crowded exhibit, I hesitate to say that it is fully VoiceOver accessible but, I can say that the buttons I pressed and controls I used, as well as the information the app was providing via it's interface were all readable using the iPad on display.  As an added bonus, the device is built to save you money as it changes the temperature as it notices you coming home by using location services on your iDevice, so when you leave work, you can fire up the app, and it will watch, and change the temp in your house accordingly.  Great energy saver, and wonderful chance to really have control over your thermostat.

The Slingbox is another little mainstream product with some fascinating capabilities via an iPhone app.  Sling allows a user to watch their home tv, as well as control it from a mobile device, or internet connected PC.  This is fun for watching tv on the go, or in another room of your house, but the fun doesn't end there.  Sling also appears to provide television listings, and can act as a capable, and fairly accessible remote control for running a standard DVR.  The sling controls seem to require a user to double-tap and hold  to get to much of their functionality, but its all labeled, and with the included tv listings, it is possible to do  some basic controlling of a DVR device.  Because the sling is just passing a video feed underneath its overlay, it won't tell you what the DVR says, but, a user can enter channels manually via a number pad, and do some educated guessing to move to the proper show and begin recording it.  All in all, TV on the go, and a partially accessible interface to the set top box makes Sling a very interesting thing.

Finally, for folks on the go, Polk audio had some very exciting headphones.  If you are like me, you are likely to have an earbud popped in one ear, if not both, throughout much of your day.  So, its a bit of a problem to hold conversations with the people around you.  The  Ultra Focus line of headphones are perfect for that scenario.  They come with a small in-line microphone, which can be switched on with the push of a button, and suddenly you are listening to the world around you through the headphones, instead of listening to music or other audio from your device.  It's a great concept that I've certainly never seen before and I'm glad to have experienced it.  I think it will have a number of uses to those of us who always have something to listen to, but still need to interact with the outside world.  If you are the active type, the Ultra Fit line provided headphones that seem to stay in place no matter what.  Polk warmed my geeky heart by proving this point with acrobats on skis, on a trampoline, who despite flips and leaps of ridiculous magnitude never once dislodged their headsets. 

Along with the acrobats, I also incidentally saw a life-size Elivs cut-out in a delightfully ridiculous golden costume, and I got my monkeys.  Woot Services, the cheeky closeout kings had flying monkeys.  What can I say? I love CES, the pageantry, the technology, and the possibilities.  See you tomorrow!

Amy Mason