When it comes to making our travel experiences safer and more enjoyable, these products rise above the hype.
05 January 2020, US, Las Vegas: The logo of the technology fair CES can be seen at the Las Vegas … [+]
dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images
I’m coming into this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas with a healthy amount of skepticism. Full disclosure, I own two vintage typewriters and a quill. So, when nifty new gadgets are presented to journalists as “the future” or “game-changing,” I cock my head ever so slightly to the right with eyes wide open — like a puppy staring at a ceiling fan, waiting for it to crash.
Because, come on. Do we really need Lora Dicarlo’s high-tech dildo to make sex better? Are we seriously considering hi-tech breast pumps? For all its hype, does Samsung’s human-like digital avatar called “Neon” add any discernible value to the experience of being actual homosapiens? Perhaps. In many cases, consumer tech has overstepped—and that does not exclude the travel and tourism industries. To their own admission, blue-chip travel executives are using consumer data and tech to boost their own bottom lines, and deliver higher margins.
“If every guest is connected, you can match supply and demand. It’s our duty to maximize that value. If you remove point of sale friction, you increase the consumption of experience,” said John Padgett, Chief Experience and Innovation Officer, Carnival Corp, speaking on the “AI & VR in Travel” panel at CES 2020. Increased consumption means increased revenues. This is Vegas, after all: capitalist America in Extremis.
As consumers, we’ll judge for ourselves which travel products and services genuinely provide value. To that end, here are five travel gadgets that really can improve our travel experiences:
Suunto 7 sports watch with the Wear OS by Google that can track over 70 sports exercises shown here … [+]
Suunto, maker of sporty smartwatches, arrives at CES with the reveal of Suunto 7, a wearable that boasts “smart features” from Wear OS by Google. These include offline outdoor maps with a 50+ km range, enabling users to follow their location via a bright OLED touch-sensitive display, as well as wrist-based control of music playlists. For adventurous exercise junkies, the smartwatch also includes wrist-based heart rate tracking, a barometer for elevation readings, and a built-in GPS so you won’t get lost traversing foreign terrain.
The DoubleTake is half-binocular, half-camera, with the zooming power of a telescope.
CREDIT: NEXOPTIC TECHNOLOGY CORP.
Typically, when we think of binocs, we envision old-school birders in safari jackets admiring the feathers of a fiery-necked nightjar. No more, says NexOptic Technology Corp, which presented an updated version of its “DoubleTake” binoculars at CES 2020. These 3D-printed binocs enter the Jetson’s age offering a 10x digital zoom via its wide field lens, which is more than my iPhone can do. It can also shoot 4K video and photos, which are easily shareable on social media when connected via Nexoptic’s app. Think of this gadget as half-binocular, half-camera, with the zooming power of a telescope.
Pow Audio’s mobile speaker
Courtesy Pow Audio
Pow Audio’s Biz Speaker
Wireless bluetooth speakers aren’t new. But Pow Audio has just made them more relevant to business travelers with the CES debut of a product called “Biz.” Designed to improve teleconferencing audio, Biz is a hand-held portable speaker with a 360-degree microphone, automatic echo cancellation and noise suppression for bigger, better sound.
With more professionals working remotely, and increasingly relying on the sometimes-sketchy audio from Zoom and Skype, Biz could make conference calls that much clearer. Can you hear me now?
Trova’s smart storage device can be carried on airplanes.
Courtesy Trova Official
Trova Go, the Mobile Safe
Most avid travelers know by now that vacation rentals such as Airbnb often do not offer safes for storing valuables. Trova Go is simple, sleek, and helps solve that problem. It is a lightweight, portable safe that wirelessly connects via Bluetooth, and can open via passcode or biometrics. Their slogan is “enjoy the luxury of privacy.” If the box is opened, you will be notified via the Trova app on your smartphone. It also has a “never lost” feature that marks the device’s last-used location, giving traveler’s that little bit of extra peace of mind.
Source installed at the Samburu Girls Foundation in Kenya.
Courtesy Zero Mass Water
SOURCE by Zero Mass Water
This company’s mission is to “make drinking water an unlimited resource.” So far, they’ve installed water production sites in over 35 countries by using solar panel technology and an integrated sterilization system to convert water vapor from the air into liquid water. This is particularly relevant to travelers visiting countries without a reliable supply of safe drinking water, or which suffer from extremely arid conditions. Already hotels and resorts in Mexico (Hotel MUMEDI), the Philippines (Seda Vertis North Hotel), and South Australia (Mistere Eco-Resort) have installed Source hydropanels on-site to provide their guests and staff with safe drinking water. In this case, sustainability isn’t just a buzz word.