CES 2016 IoT Roundup

Hundreds, if not thousands, of vendors announced IoT-related products and services at this week's CES trade show in Las Vegas. Here are a few that caught our attention: Omron's latest connected blood pressure monitors; Samsung's latest smart fridge; an offer from Vuzix and APX Labs for the new Vuzix M300 enterprise smart glasses; La Poste's upcoming IoT pilot; and new products and services from Helium.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Jan 08, 2016

New Mobile Blood Pressure Monitors from Omron
Omron Healthcare, a Japanese manufacturer of personal wellness devices, has unveiled two new wireless blood pressure monitors—one worn on the wrist and one for the upper arm—that individuals suffering from hypertension or other chronic illnesses can use, along with a companion app, to monitor their blood pressure on a regular basis.

The wrist monitor is in a watch form factor and is the smallest and lightest blood pressure monitor Omron has made. It also includes accelerometers that can be used to track physical activity and sleep. The user can place the device on his wrist to check blood pressure and then remove it, or can leave the device on to automatically to measure blood pressure at regular intervals during the day.

The upper arm monitor measures blood pressure and also tracks the heart's rhythm. Both devices contain Bluetooth Low Energy radios that transmit readings to the Omron Connect Mobile app on the user's smartphone or tablet. Omron Healthcare expects both devices to be available in late 2016 and while prices have not been confirmed, the wrist monitor is expected to retail for around $200.

Samsung Debuts Family Hub
Samsung is hoping that its third go at the smart fridge will be a charm. After announcing, but then later discontinuing, an Internet-connected refrigerator in 2012 and again in 2014, the electronics giant unveiled the Family Hub at CES on Tuesday.

The most striking thing about this appliance is its 21-inch touchscreen. By comparison, the Samsung's previous models had an 8-inch display. Like past models, users can mirror their Samsung Smart TV to the refrigerator, so that whatever content is playing on their television can also be displayed on the Family Hub's monitor, allowing consumers to watch a show or movie while cooking. But the real IoT feature in the Family Hub comes in the form of continuous inventory tracking. A series of cameras are mounted inside refrigerator door , and they capture and save a new image each time the doors are closed. From his phone, the user can then access Samsung's smart home app to view the latest images and see what items are needed. (Granted, the cameras can't show how much juice or milk is inside an opaque carton.)

In addition, MasterCard has launched an online grocery ordering application (available only the Northeast for now) that allows users to order grocery items from FreshDirect or ShopRite for home delivery. Payments are completed through a 4-digit pin and can be made with any U.S.-issued credit or debit card. The Family Hub will be available this spring for $4,999.

Vuzix and APX Labs Unveil new Enterprise Smart Glasses, Launch Future-Proof Offer
The new Vuzix M300, shown for the first time at CES 2016, is the next evolution of Vuzix Corp.'s smart glasses designed specifically for industrial use. The M300's design, the company says, was based on client feedback and industry requirements accrued from over two years of real-world use of the previous model, the Vuzix M100. Vuzix and APX Labs, a software developer whose Skylight operating system runs on smart glasses (eyewear with integrated sensors designed to aid hands-free communications) have announced their Future Proof program. Clients that participate in this offer will be able to purchase the Vuzix M100 smart glasses, running the Skylight operating system, and receive an upgrade to the Vuzix M300 smart glasses, due out this summer, at no additional costs. The M100 glasses retail for $999.99. Pricing for the M300, which features an updated user interface system, remote control functions through a paired Android or iOS device, double the battery life of the M100, more memory and the ability to both record and play back video, has not been released.

La Poste to Launch Pilot Program with Sigfox
France's postal service company Groupe La Poste plans to launch a pilot during the first half of 2016 to evaluate a means by which residential customers will be able to ship parcels without having to wrap them or bring them to a collection center. La Poste will be mounting small battery-powered Sigfox radio buttons on the mailboxes of an undisclosed number of French residents.

The radios, which use an ultra-narrow-band radio frequency protocol—meaning it relies on very narrow slices of the unlicensed Industrial Scientific Medical (ISM) frequency band—operates at 868 MHz in Europe. A resident who wants to ship a parcel will be able place the item in her home's mailbox and press the button, which will send a pick-up request, through the Sigfox network, to La Poste. On her smartphone or computer, she will then enter the name and address of the recipient in the La Poste online shipping application. Her letter carrier will then receive the parcel notice and shipping information on his smartphone and, when he is next at his regional post office, will print the shipping label and apply it to a flattened shipping box. When he next comes to the resident's house, he will collect the item to be shipped from her mailbox, place it in the shipping box, and bring it to back to the post office at the end of his shift.

If the pilot proves successful, La Poste could make the service available to the 75 percent of French homes that have La Poste's standard-issue mailbox, which is roughly one cubic foot in size.

Helium Expands, Updates Product Range
Helium, a wireless sensor startup has launched the Helium Sensor Development Kit. Helium’s wireless sensors measure a range of variables and communicate via a variation of the IEEE 802.15.4 standard. The platform includes device management software and a cloud-based software that uses machine learning to trigger alerts based on abnormal behavior and the end user's preferences, Aimed at end users or IoT developers that want to evaluate Helium's products or build new applications that can run on the Helium platform, the kit includes an extensible printed circuit board, software-defined, field-programmable sensors, and APIs.

Helium also released a mobile app, available for iOS (an Android version is in the works) and an upgraded user interface for its fully integrated platform, which includes Helium sensor units, network connectivity and cloud storage.

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