What caught our eye at CES 2012 – Part 1

Having recovered from our jet-lag and sifted through the two dozen or so USB press kits we picked up, we can now present you with part one of our round-up of the gadgets and gizmos that caught our eye at this year’s CES.

Eers Custom Earphones

Developed by Canadian firm Sonomax, ‘eers’ are the “first earphones in the world that you buy off the shelf and custom-fit to your own ears, in 4 minutes.” Roughly speaking, the product works by putting the fitting mechanism on your head (see picture) and then two types of silicone flow down into a membrane and into your ear. You don’t get any silicone in your ear of course, as it’s contained inside the membrane.

After a few minutes the silicone sets and you remove the fitting device to, hopefully, find a perfectly cast set of earphones – custom moulded to fit your ear. The product is expected to be on sale in the UK in the 2nd half (update: see below) of 2012 and the current retail price for the US is $199 for the single driver headphone and $299 for the twin driver (better sound quality) version. To find out more about eers, visit http://sculptedeers.com/

Update on Jan 26: Eers are now available direct from Sonomax UK on this page, current price £199+shipping

Sony Tablet P

The next product that caught our attention, but perhaps not for the right reasons, was the Sony Tablet P. Our initial reaction was that it looked like a giant, silver, version of the popular Nintendo Donkey Kong handheld game from yesteryear! Nevertheless we decided to persevere and had a quick hands-on go the intriguing looking clamshell tablet.

The idea is that you can easily slip this tablet in to your handbag, backpack or even jacket pocket – although from our experience you’d need a pretty big jacket for people not to notice the bulge! The Tablet P is 18cm long and 15.8cm wide when fully opened. It weighs 370g and sports two 5.5″ TruBlack touch screens. The model on display is supplied in conjunction with AT&T and enables the ‘P’ to use 3G when on the move.

Alongside Sony’s more conventional ‘S’ tablet and their increasingly powerful XPERIA smartphones, we couldn’t really work out who the ‘P’ was aimed at. The form factor was quite bulky and the sizeable gap between the two screens can make for awkward reading of long pages (see our photo for an example of a split mid paragraph).

While the official press material from Sony states that pricing and availability is ‘TBD’, we found the Tablet P already for sale (at £499) on the Sony UK web site. Given this relatively high price (the iPad 2 starts from £399) we’ll be surprised if this becomes a hit product for Sony.

Penclic Mouse

Penclic, a Swedish based company, have been championing the idea of a pen-shaped mouse since 2002. However this year’s CES saw them launching their new and improved R2 (wireless) and D2 (corded) versions. The Penclic is designed to provide a more natural working position and to combat health related issues associated with a traditional computer mouse, such as repetitive strain injury (RSI).

The Penclic is intended to feel and move like a pen and the mouse buttons are mounted where you grip with your forefinger and thumb. From our quick test the product performed well, although we were initially a little confused about which part made the cursor move. The answer is that you move the whole unit, rather than just the ball/socket mechanism!

The R2 and D2 are already available via the Amazon Marketplace, priced at £59.99 and £49.99 respectively. Update: Check out our Penclic R2 unboxing video

Audi’s triple heads-up display

Over at the predictably stylish (and extremely bright!) Audi stand, they had a demo of prototype heads-up display. Audi’s HUD stood out from existing displays because it featured three ‘projections’, one directly in front of the driver, one in the centre and one for the passenger.

The driver’s HUD showed navigational arrows which can obviously be used in place of a traditional sat-nav unit. The centre screen was showing more details about the route and end destination. Meanwhile, the passenger screen (which is invisible to the driver), can be used to watch TV, etc. All of the screens are gesture controlled.

In a ‘real life’ demo, the guy from Audi showed us an example of an incoming video phone call. This was displayed on the centre screen as a static photo and the name of the caller, but the passenger could drag this across to their screen to view the video call – while the driver could concentrate on, er, …driving!

Our CES 2012 coverage continues…