LAS VEGAS (WWJ) — The splendid technological madness that is the International Consumer Electronics Show has started in recent years with a special selection of exhibitors who show off their wares to the assembled press.
It’s called CES Unveiled. And from a modest beginning a few years ago, it’s grown into a massive gathering of dozens of exhibitors and more than 1,500 media members and analysts packed into a ballroom at the massive Venetian-Palazzo complex, where quiet conversation is impossible, the idea of personal space is out the window, and there’s great food if you can squeeze your way through the assembled throng to it.
And this year, you’d best believe there was a major Michigan presence, not to mention the auto industry.
The first company I saw was Escort, the West Chester, Ohio-based producers of radar detectors. This year, the company is coming out with a power cord replacement that has Bluetooth built in, so it can talk to a driver’s iPhone or Android phone.
Get this: When the Bluetooth-enabled Escort detects a speed trap, it sends a notice to the cloud, where everyone else with smartphones equipped with an Escort app gets a “cop spotted” warning.
“Everyone in Escort Nation will be sharing information,” said Ron Gividen, public relations director for the company.
The power cord purchased separately is $99 and a subscription to the service is $39 a year. It’s now on sale, with both bundled for $79. And any new radar detector purchase can add it for $39.
Practically next door were the folks from House of Marley, the audio equipment provider run by the family of the late reggae legend Bob Marley. House of Marley audio gear is manufactured by HMDX, the same Commerce Township-based company that makes Homedics home medical equipment.
At CES Unveiled, House of Marley was showing its three lines of audio gear — Jammin’ for the younger set, Freedom for the design-conscious and Destiny for audiophiles. The equipment is available at retail giants like Best Buy as well as surf and skate shops. And it’s gorgeous, making use of sustianable materials wherever possible.
Around the corner was another company owned by Homedics, Powermat – which makes wireless charging mats for various devices — and Powerbag, which makes backpacks with charging gear inside. Powermat is also introducing a new line of portable gadget chargers, so you never run out of juice.
Around another corner was Parrot, the French auto electronics manufacturer with its U.S. headquarters in Southfield, and about half that headquarters staff was in Vegas Sunday night for CES unveiled.
Besides their fun product, the AR.drone “quadcopter” toy helicopter, Parrot was showing off its serious gear, Asteroid in-car computers that fit neatly into the DIN standardized radio slots in automotive dashboards.
Just one spin around the Unveiled floor took an hour, including a quick hello to Consumer Electronics Association CEO (and part-time metro Detroit resident) Gary Shapiro, who was taking in the event virtually incognito, in a black suit and name-badge-free. And then it was off to the never-ending what’s next of CES.