Like many in the technology world, much of team Re/code has taken up residence in Las Vegas this week for International CES, the industry’s biggest gadget convention. Rather than bombard you with rewritten press releases about gadgets and stuff nobody will ever buy, we plan to pick just three things — themes, news, or something quirky — we think you should know about every day of the show.
1. Desperately Seeking Answer to “What’s the Coolest Thing You Saw at CES?”
Now that the big announcements have slowed down a bit, CES attendees have morphed into beachcombers with metal detectors seeking out hidden gems. And every so often, you’ll find a booth that’s not hawking iPhone covers, Bluetooth speakers or some kind of connector cable.
There’s the Tactus disappearing tactile keyboard, which my colleague Katie Boehret liked at first fluid bubble touch. Razer’s Project Christine is (theoretically) a modular gaming PC cooled by mineral oil, and its new Nabu device looks like a Nike FuelBand but has two screens, one of them private, for incoming notifications.
Also, this looks to be the world’s largest gathering of Google Glass wearers at an event not put on by Google (Really! They’re everywhere! Or I should say: We’re everywhere — since I was trying them out yesterday, too.), and they’re getting to see some new accessories. OpticsPlanet’s new Wetley prescription lens adapters for Google Glass cost $99 to $248. Technogym made a treadmill that can be controlled by Google Glass. And there’s also a competitor called Innovega that is now making contact lenses that refocus light so you can better read a tiny display inside of its own augmented reality glasses.
At the end of the day, one of the coolest things we saw in Vegas was the very recently opened Container Park from Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project. The Zappos guy is spending $350 million of his own money to try to revitalize the concrete-and-neon-jungle part of Vegas that is now home to the e-commerce company’s office. There are boutiques and restaurants built into reused shipping containers, with playgrounds in the middle. There’s a praying mantis that shoots fire from its antennae. There’s a glossy retro shopping mall feel to it all. And unlike at the casinos, there are no awful piped-in scents.
2. Buzzword of the Week: Glanceable.
Everybody wants their devices to be helpful, and be quick about it. “We call it ‘glanceable awareness,'” said Athos CEO Dhananja Jayalath, which plans to make clothing from conductive material so it can measure the intensity of a workout directly from your muscles (the idea is to be more informative and actionable than counting steps from an activity-tracking wristband).
“Glance is the new touch,” declares the slogan for MetaWatch. “The ‘art of the glance’ is our way of romanticizing the vision for these watches,” said MetaWatch CEO Bill Geiser, a former Fossil exec who now leads the smartwatch company that’s trying for an edge with more fashion and less of a focus on apps.
“Two-thirds of the way we interact with our phone really is through glances,” said Dennis Miloseski, the studio head for Samsung Design America, speaking of the need for wearables to provide notifications and allow the user to react to them through a quick action. Even car makers are getting into the “glanceable” action, as related by the Wall Street Journal.
Glance is the new curate is the new pivot is the new lean startup.
3. Where’s That Redmond Giant of Yore?
Microsoft, the longtime anchor company at CES, officially pulled out as of last year — but a company its size can’t really afford to skip the show. No longer on the show floor nor giving a keynote, it does have a significant, if lower, profile in Vegas this week.
First, it had this rather sad little booth at the Pepcom show for reporters (see picture).
There was also this “secret party,” though we heard it’s a) not secret and b) not much of a party. Rather, it is more like a cocktail event for some of the software maker’s key partners.
But Microsoft’s most significant presence at CES was the many meeting rooms it had, spread over three floors in the Venetian/Sands Convention Center. There were several rooms for computer makers to meet in, as well as a rather stylish showplace for some of the latest Windows and Windows Phone devices.
A number of top executives were also spotted around Vegas this week, including Windows unit head Terry Myerson and longtime marketing executive and current channels chief Chris Capossela. (Ina Fried)
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.