Elysie is a backpack with power for people on the go @ CES 2021



Elysie smart backpackWhether you’re a photographer, writer, journalist, or podcaster, there is one very common thread – the need for portable power. Heck, even regular device users know that, by the end of a long day, your phone is likely dead or nearly so. Portable battery packs can solve the problem for some people, but for many, we need more. Fortunately, we’ve got a more powerful solution in Elysie.

Elysie is, on the surface, a backpack. But, in reality, it is so much more. It’s got power storage built into it, with 2 separate 25,000 mAh batteries. In the outer shell, which is a polycarbonate material, are photovoltaic cells (solar cells) to charge the internal batteries. While the cells will charge best in the sunlight, they will also charge inside under decent lighting. The straps are reinforced, which makes the backpack great for carrying equipment, and feature photoluminescent straps, one at the top and bottom of each side (a total of 4).

The Elysie bag has a ton of smart technology integrated into it. Using the connected mobile app, you can check on the bag’s battery level. It can also tell you the current air quality in your current location. It’s also got a number of tracking systems built-in. Obviously, this is a bag you’re not going to want to lose. Fortunately, it has integrated geolocation tracking, so if you leave it behind somewhere, you can find out where.

One of the really interesting aspects of the Elysie bag is its ability to track what is inside. Using RFID tags attached to items, you can log what you regularly carry, like a laptop, camera, and headphones. When they are in the bag, it can let you know. More importantly, when they are missing, the app can also let you know.

The company is currently working on distribution and hopes to bring the Elysie bag to market soon. To learn more about the bag and the company, head over to the Elysie website.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Kawantech is moving smart technology to the streets @ CES 2021



Kawantech smart public lightingWe live in a world of “Smart” everything. Smartphones put the world in our hands. Smartwatches put an entire computer on our wrists. Smart cars can direct, park and even drive us. We have even done interviews for companies that have come up with smart clothing. And although we here at PLUGHITZ love it all (ok, most of it), it’s getting to the point where new ideas for smart technology are beginning to get mocked and seen as a bit of an overreach by some. So, we have probably hit that point where there’s really nothing else to smarten up, right? Well… No. Some engineers are actually so insightful that they are able to see amazing potential in even the most common items. And Kawantech is one of the companies that share in this ingenuity.

In fact, they are a company that has been created by skilled entrepreneurs that have experience in connected vehicles and infrastructure. And while we are all aware of the strides that have been made in automobile electronics and technology, most people don’t even think about making the actual infrastructure smart. But Kawantech believes that cities actually need digital infrastructure, as well. This will help to get a whole new generation of public services that are based around mobility. A modern city with new technologies can bring added safety and also improve daily life. But creating all new components to add to the current infrastructure would be cumbersome, costly, and possibly bad for the environment. But what they have created is actually a great idea that, in concept, will save money, resources, and even lives.

Their concept is smart public lighting, specifically streetlights. By adding a brain (KARA) inside of streetlights, cities will have the ability to regulate energy, keep the streets safer and even help to alleviate traffic jams. What a great idea! Taking an existing, and useful, object and modifying it to be even more useful. Their concept adds sensors that can be enabled to do things like monitor and report traffic conditions to existing map apps that will add another layer to help commuters better navigate their routes. And uses/features can continue to be upgraded as time goes on and be better adapted to the needs of the users. As for the light itself, it is engineered to be extremely energy efficient. For starters, they will only light up when needed. They will also have the ability to be brighter on the sidewalks and crosswalks than in the streets, to make sure that pedestrians are always well lit and can easily be seen by drivers. Overall, this will allow for energy savings of up to 70% for the cities while keeping the citizens safer and happier.

To find out more, make sure to watch the full interview and visit the Kawantech website.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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AfterShokz offers get great sound and unparalleled comfort @ CES 2021



AfterShokz bone-conducting headphonesMost of us couldn’t get through the day without our headphones. At work, we use them for conference calls and to listen to our favorite podcasts and music. Away from work, they get us through everything from long workouts to helping us fall asleep, and they are invaluable in helping us escape when uncle Billy brings up politics at family functions. For these reasons and more, they are truly on our list of essential items. But let’s be honest, it’s almost impossible to find that perfect pair that fit properly, especially when we tend to use them multiple hours per day. Headphones crush your ears and make it impossible to hear anything that is going on around you. Earbuds are never the right size and some of them are downright painful. And just like your favorite pair of socks, there’s always one of those little silicone tips that has gone off in search of a better life. But luckily, technology keeps forging on to find us a more perfect personal listening experience. And AfterShokz may have done just that. We were very happy to be able to meet up again with Donnie Coryea, Retail Marketing Specialist at AfterShokz, during our coverage of CES 2021, to find out what’s new with them.

Although most of the gamers that follow our coverage most likely already know about them, we know that the average consumer probably does not. AfterShokz makes open-ear, bone conduction headphones. What? Stay with us, it’s actually really cool. The thing that sets them apart from regular headphones is that they are designed to not go in or on your ears. They sit just outside of the ear and the bone conduction technology delivers the sound right through your cheekbone and directly to your inner ear. This technology allows you to stay aware of your surroundings while using them. They are great in office settings where you may need to hear the phone or be available for your manager and co-workers. They are also great at home where you might be awaiting a delivery or need to keep an ear out for the kids. They can also help you stay safe during outdoor activities and workouts. And gamers are falling in love with them because they are able to play for longer durations without their ears bothering them. No matter how you choose to use them, they really do fit into daily life much better than a standard pair of earbuds. You can leave them on while shopping or dashing through the airport and keep your music on or make a call. Or, in the case of our production team, they can answer a question from the green room without having to awkwardly pull aside the earcup from one side of their headphones and then try to get them set again.

With four different models to choose from, there is something for everyone. All are Bluetooth and offer a level of water resistance. Batter life starts at 6 hours on the Air and OpenMove models and it goes up to 8 hours on the Aeropex and there is 16 hours of talk time for the new OpenComm Headset with Noise-Cancelling Boom Microphone.

Another thing for you to love about AfterShokz is the price. It starts at just $79.95 and tops out at $159.95. So whether you are looking for endurance, lifestyle or communication, there is a set that is perfect for you. You’ll also find a nice little assortment of accessories on the AfterShokz website. My personal favorite are the colorful After-Sockz. If you get yourself a pair (and are able to keep one from getting irretrievably lost in the abyss), be sure to upload a pic of them in the comments here or on any of our social media sites.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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j5create has a pair of new products for content creators @ CES 2021



j5create content creator toolsOver the past year, a number of products that were previously thought to be pretty ubiquitous have come into high demand. Chief among those products have been products for content creation. This year, j5create has brought out a number of products that can be used in content creation, whether in your home, your studio, or your office.

The first product we were introduced to is the new JVCU360 360° All Around Webcam. This camera can be mounted to the ceiling or a table and allows for the streaming of a full 360-degree video. Once we get back into our offices, this would be perfect for a conference room table so that the people you are talking with remotely can see the whole table. It can also be used for podcasting, as the video can be streamed as-is, or the video can be cut into segments for different camera angles.

Next up is the JVA06 Dual HDMI Video Capture – a USB-powered HDMI streaming device. The box has a number of inputs and outputs, including 2 switchable HDMI inputs and an 1/8″ mic input, plus an HDMI and 1/8″ headphone/speaker output. There are also USB-C power and host ports. The box has video processing built-in, meaning that it can take processing load off of a computer. This is perfect for game streamers because it can do picture in picture as well as picture beside picture modes, plus chroma key – essentially everything that a standard game streamer uses on a regular basis.

The JVCU360 360° All Around Webcam is available for $109.99. The JVA06 Dual HDMI Video Capture is available for $239.99. To learn more about these products and the entire diverse line of products available, check out the j5create website.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Karamba Security is preventing hacking into the IoT @ CES 2021



Karamba Security IoT protectionSecuring the Internet of Things is a complicated task. We’ve seen small and large companies, as well as small and large devices, get hacked. Sometimes the hacks happen on the cloud side, but too often they come from the device side. Not too long ago we covered a scenario where DVRs, cameras, and more, were all being used as part of a botnet to create attacks against other networks. Karamba Security focuses on protecting those devices.

The hacker’s main objective is to gain control over the device. Once compromised, the intention of the device can be changed. The new intention could be as part of a botnet, like mentioned above, or even more sinister. Take, for example, a connected camera. The intended usage is for the camera to stream video directly to a cloud server, where you can then login and view the video. But, a hacker might have the intention of seeing your camera, either for anti-security or anti-privacy purposes. Being able to get in the middle and prevent that attack in the first place is where Karamba Security fits in.

Too many companies don’t think about security as an important aspect of the product design lifecycle. Either there are no experts within the company or no time resources dedicated to the project. That’s where security controls and systems from experts fit in. In the engineering world, we tend to want to let experts on a particular topic handle those complicated topics. Security is, by far, the most important and the most useful to let security experts handle.

Currently, Karamba Security is working with a number of clients to integrate their technology into over 12 million connected devices. To learn more about their technology, or to engage the company about integrating it into your own project, head over to the Karamba Security website.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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FINDY helps you find your glasses when you lose them @ CES 2021



FINDY eyeglass finderIf you wear glasses, one thing you are familiar with is the panic when you cannot find them. At some point, everyone puts their glasses down and has no idea where they are. Many people spend way too much time searching for those misplaced glasses. But, if you have FINDY by Foxsmart, your phone can do the hard work for you.

FINDY is a very small Bluetooth LE device that attaches to your glasses. The device pairs with your phone, giving you a location service for your lost glasses. In our conversation, you get to see the surprise reveal of the FINDY being worn from the first moment, showing just how small this gadget really is. If it is going to be worn on your face, small is going to be important. Because of the design of the device, you can use it for more than just your glasses. Slip the tracker into a sleeve and connect it to your keys.

The device works similarly to a Tile, in that it uses Bluetooth to log your device’s current location when the two devices connect. When they disconnect, the last location is reported to the cloud service. This gives you the ability to see where you were. Once you are close to it, and you still can’t find the glasses, you can use a signal strength meter to get closer. Hold your phone to your body to block the signal and determine the quadrant it is in. Once you have a direction to face, you can get a hot/cold meter to get even closer.

The FINDY is available for sale now, with a regular price of $49.95 (but a sale price right now of $34.95). To learn more about the product or to purchase one for yourself, head over to the Foxsmart website.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Clic-Light makes riding a bike on the road a safer exercise @ CES 2021



Clic-Light bike safety lightRiding a bike on the road can be a dangerous way to exercise. While some of us are lucky enough to have bike lanes on our major roads, nor everyone has that safety feature. Even if you do have a dedicated lane, crossing lanes can still leave you vulnerable, because few people actually know how to watch for turn signals from a bicyclist. Plus, adverse weather conditions make the experience even worse, as visibility is naturally limited. So, how do you improve visibility without negatively impacting your ride? Luckily, Clic-Light is here to make the experience safer for everyone.

Clic-Light is a simple device that you strap to your back while you ride. The position of the panel is designed to put it directly at eye level people drivers behind you. On the panel is a left and right turn signal, as well as a brake light. It also features a position light, fog lights, and hazard lights. All of the lights are controlled from a remote that can be attached to your handlebars, allowing you to keep your hands on the handlebars while making yourself more visible than you normally would.

Of course, the Clic-Light isn’t just for bicyclists. Rising a motorcycle can be even more dangerous than a bicycle, especially at night. The signals for both activities are the same, and the lights can make both safer. In addition, as electric scooters are becoming more popular again, both two and four wheel varieties, the light can be used there, as well.

The Clic-Light should be available in the near future and is expected to retail around $160. To learn more about the product and to sign up for an email when it becomes available, head over to the company’s website.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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Blacknut has a huge catalog of cloud streaming games @ CES 2021



Blacknut cloud gaming platformThere is no doubt that the future of gaming has a big place for cloud streaming services. There have been a number of companies, including Microsoft and Google, who have gotten in on the game. However, there seems to be a lot of question over the stability of and the commitment to these platforms. One company that is showing both stability and commitment is Blacknut.

The company has taken a very similar approach to Microsoft, in that the service is a monthly fee and includes all of the games in the catalog. The games in the catalog have no ads and no in-game purchases. Your game state is stored in the cloud, meaning that you can start your game on your phone and continue it on the computer, or vice versa. But, how many games are available? Currently, the service offers over 400 games with n ew games added weekly.

The catalog is also very diverse. There is a large collection of Japanese games with anime styling, such as BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger. There are a lot of racing games, from big name franchises like Asphalt, Gravel, and MotoGP. And, there are weird games, like Overcooked and Farming Simulator 19. There is definitely something for everyone.

The service also has a strong focus on families. On your single subscription, you can create up to 5 profiles, so everyone has their progress separately. There are also parental controls, disabling access during certain times and limiting access to games with certain ratings.

Blacknut is available now for $15.99 per month, with a 50% discount for your first three months with discount code WELCOME3M21. You can play games on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, Fire TV, and Google TV. To learn more about the platform, browse the catalog of games, and start your subscription, head over to the Blacknut website.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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Direct Smarter All-in-Sensor protects your connected home @ CES 2021



Direct Smarter All-in-SensorIf you have followed our CES 2021 coverage, one of the major trends you have likely noticed is the growth of the connected home and smart home. With lighting, cameras, temperature sensors, and more, our homes are getting more and more connected. But, there is a problem inherent in those connections – privacy. The Direct Smarter All-in-Sensor is a new solution to maintain your privacy while getting the benefits of a connected home.

Over the past few years, we’ve discussed a number of scenarios where a connected home has been invaded or various levels. Ring doorbells can be accessed by law enforcement without a warrant in communities across the country. In some cases, indoor cameras and even baby monitors have been accessed by the outside world. In some cases, hackers have actually spoken to children through these breaches. While testing a new product in our office, we accidentally got paired with a local camera in someone’s home.

The Direct Smarter All-in-Sensor is a device looking to prevent just that scenario. The general problem with a connected home is that it relies on a connection to the internet for each device. That connection pushes all data to a cloud server somewhere, where hackers have a single point of entry to access hundreds, thousands, or millions of devices. This device allows you to keep all of your individual sensors behind your firewall, and connect directly to this instead of the cloud.

The device itself has a collection of sensors built-in, but it can be expanded using additional tabs. This can include alarm capabilities, smoke detection, and more. You can also add external modules, such as smart power, and more.

The Direct Smarter All-in-Sensor can be pre-ordered now for $198. To learn more about the product or to purchase one, head over to the Direct Smarter website.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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Soul Blade earbuds want to help improve how you run @ CES 2021



Soul Blade runner earbudsMany of us always take our music with us. Whether we have over-ear or on-ear headphones, or in-ear earbuds, a lot of people carry some sort of personal audio product with them all the time. However, one group often struggles to find earbuds that work for them – runners. The new Soul Blade true wireless earbuds helps to address the concerns of runners, while adding capability for others.

The standard consumer earbuds tend to not be designed to stay in during intense motion, such as running. Specific devices tend to treat a symptom, like running a strap behind the head to keep from losing it. The Soul Blade earbuds address this problem the way older sport buds once did – with little blades inside the ear to hold them in place.

But, this isn’t where the Soul Blades really set themselves apart. The truly engaging feature of these earbuds is the health features. Built-in to the earbuds is a collection of health monitoring sensors, which can be used to track running form and vital stats. The system is even able to provide warning before injuries.

When there is an area of your form that requires improvement, a voice will chime in through the earbuds and let you know. Some of the capabilities aimed at running form include head angle, body tilt, and stride distance. At the end of the run, the connected SOULFIT app can give you detailed information about your form and any mistakes you may have made. You can also see visual representations of potential injury. You also get more traditional information, such as time, speed, calories burned, as well as a map of your run.

The Soul Blade true wireless earbuds will be available around the start of Q2 2021, and will retail for $199. To learn more about the company and its full product line, you can head to the Soul website.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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