My last two company visits at CES Friday were a terrific way to end a terrific event. Jonathon Stein, marketing manager at Rochester Hills-based foneGear, showed me the company’s transformation to a new brand name, Fuse.
Fuse launched two very cool prodcuts at CES’ Unveiled event Tuesday night (and boy, that seems like weeks ago) — a charging base that can recharge up to four devices with one corde, and In Tune stereo earphones optimized by music genre. Each has a different driver with a different audio response curve, for rap, pop, rock-country or jazz-blues.READ MORE: Election Denial Probe Looms Over Critical Races In Michigan
Fuse also has a Harley-Davidson license and uses it to produce a full line of Harley-themed phone and GPS cases, notebook covers and iPad cases. There’s another Mossy Oak camouflage line for outdoors lovers.
Stein said the company name was changed at the behest of marekting consultants Curve Detroit, which also designed the Fuse show booth.
“We had separate product lines for foneGear, tuneGear, compGear, and Curve came in and said, you need to clean this up, because you have all these ‘Gear’ names and none of them make sense,” Stein said. “Curve came up with the name for us.”
Stein also wanted me to mention that Warren-based HB Stubbs, which designs trade show and other exhibits and events, built the foneGear/Fuse booth. (Stubbs also again built the
Panasonic booth, which was just a wee bit larger than Fuse’s.)
My final visit of CES was the booth of Whitmore Lake-based Vanguard USA Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of photo tripods, photo and video bags and cases, and more recently, wall mounts for flat-panel TVs and high-quality binoculars and spotter telescopes.
Vanguard was founeed in Taiwan in 1986 by Annie Lee, who emigrated to the United States to continue the business in 1988. Originally based in Dexter, the company moved to its current home 10 years ago.
The company has 21 employees in Whitmore Lake with branches in Luxembourg, German, Spain and Japan.READ MORE: Police Search For Suspect In Fatal Shooting On Detroit's West Side
“Our global strength is in our tough photo and video cases,” sales manager Brian Jacobs said. “Vanguard cases have a very good reputation. If you’re buying a $10,000 camera to shoot TV, you want it in a good case.”
Vanguard has traditionally been sold at independent photo shops. At CES, Jacobs said, Vanguard is looking for contacts with midsized and larger consumer electronics chains.
And now, a roundup of other CES news.
* If you’d like to see a photo gallery of some of the images I took at CES, feel free to visit http://detroit.cbslocal.com/gallery/2011/01/09/glitr-at-ces-2011/#photo-1.
* Our friends from Parrot — the French Bluetooth and wireless technology company with its U.S. headquarters in Southfield — were out in force at CES 2011. They had a big tent out in the parking lot in front of the Las Vegas Convention Center where attendees could try out piloting the AR.Drone quadcopter, the $299 four-bladed helicopter that’s controlled by the screen and the gyroscopes on an iPhone. I’ve gotten a lot better in my piloting skills since that infamous demo video from WWJ’s conference room, where I couldn’t get it to do squat.
* I’ve become a fan of Bally’s Las Vegas, a low-priced hotel on the Strip. The rooms are cheap but large and scrupulously clean, even in the older South Tower (which by the way features an incredible view of the Strip no matter which side of the building you’re on). There are upgrades galore available to the newer North Tower. The restaurants in-house are fine and there’s a direct connection out back to the Las Vegas Monorail, the handiest way to get around town if you’re here for a convention. There’s also a lovely pool back there but it’s “closed for the season.” (Guess us crazy Michiganders would be the only ones who would still jump in a heated pool when it’s 55 outside.)
* Once again, I don’t know why anyone has a winter home in Florida when there’s the American southwest desert. Just stunningly gorgeous — big skies, mountains, colorful rock formations everywhere — and even some fairly big water, at least near Vegas. And winter in Vegas is like a perfect October day in Michigan — 50 or 60 for a high, 35 or 40 for a low, and you can still golf, play tennis, jump in said heated pool, etc.
* Anybody need a thumb drive? I’m up to 14 this trip, all containing press materials — the CES show itself, Parrot, Verizon, Fulton Innovation, GM, Visteon, Marley Audio, The Sharper Image, Ford, a bunch of others, including something called SuperTooth Buddy that I haven’t even opened yet.MORE NEWS: Amy Black, Who Was Sentenced To Life In Prison At 16, Granted Parole
* I’m already making plans for NEXT year’s CES, Jan. 10-13. So let’s see, I’ll need a flight out on Jan. 9, coming back on lucky Friday the 13th. Sensory overload from too many cool tech toys? Not me. Bring it on.