A Passive-Aggressive Minder Doll and Other Health Gadgets at CES 2016

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

This article is more than 7 years old.
Silver Mother will play the sound of running water if a person doesn’t drink enough water for the day. (sen.se)

Whoever the original reporter was to use the phrase "What happens in Vegas ..." in his or her coverage of the annual Consumer Electronics Show is now lost to history. So we'll ditch that approach and just remind you that companies big and small have gathered in the nation's gambling capital to wager bets of their own that their participation will help propel the various gadgets they're hawking into the promised land of profitability.

One big theme at this year's show, which began Wednesday and continues to Saturday: health and fitness wearables and other devices. Here's a roundup of reporting on those products, from various sources. But before you start amending your Amazon wishlist or buying stock shares, just remember: In 2013, at least, half of the U.S. consumers who bought a wearable no longer used it by the next year, and 33 percent stopped using it within six month, according to a 2014 report.

Salivate or scoff at will ....

Passive Aggressive Health Reminders
(AP) Call her mom. A small white plastic figure that resembles a Russian nesting doll offers a digital smile while it monitors if people it's watching are taking their pills, drinking enough water or doing any of their daily routines.

Silver Mother is being marketed to caretakers and family members wanting to keep an eye on elderly loved ones.


Along with alerting caretakers and family, founder Rafi Haladjian says the white "mother hub" will play the sound of running water if a person doesn't drink enough water for the day. It will also call people on the phone to remind them to take their pills.

The hub and four sensors, which can be attached to anything, including pill bottles, is sold for $290.

Call Him 'Dr.' Watson Now 
(AP) IBM CEO Virginia Rometty says the future of gadgets is not just connectivity, but the ability to analyze and "think."

While IBM isn't known for consumer technology, Rometty argued that her company's "Watson" artificial brain can enhance a variety of consumer products. In a talk Wednesday at the CES gadget show, she announced new partnerships with three companies that will use Watson, the IBM "cognitive computing" system that ran the table on Jeopardy a few years back.

Under Armour, the athletic apparel maker, is releasing a fitness app that uses Watson to analyze a users' activity, weight and other data to make personalized recommendations for diet and exercise. Medtronic, which makes medical equipment, has developed an app that uses Watson to help diabetics. Fitness trackers, of course, demand solid athletic endorsements, which is why sports stars such as football quarterback Tony Romo, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and baseball hall of famer Cal Ripken Jr. are making booth appearances. All three are representing Under Armour.

Fitbit Goes Smartwatch
(AP) Fitbit, a leading maker of fitness trackers, is unveiling a mid-range model with heart-rate monitoring and smartwatch-like functions, such as audio playback control and message notifications.

The new Blaze won't have GPS built-in, but it will be able to use the GPS from a companion smartphone to display pace and distance more accurately. It's a similar approach to the Apple Watch.

The Blaze will sit alongside Fitbit's existing Charge HR, which monitors heart rate but has no ability to latch on to the phone's GPS.

The Blaze is the first Fitbit model to have a color display.

The Blaze will sell for $200 when it comes out in March.

Brushing Your Teeth: The Game
(AP) Thomas Serval's dentist called him a bad father when his then-7-year-old refused to brush her teeth. So he and his dentist made teeth-brushing fun — almost too much fun.

Serval's company Kolibree made a toothbrush into a video game controller kids can use to make rabbits race and pirates plunder in games on a smartphone.

He says his company studied as many as 50 kids in a dentist office to see how they used his toothbrush versus a regular one. The kids brushed for more than two minutes on average with his brush and game combo, and he tweaked the product based on what he learned. The games themselves now last a little less than two minutes and appear to keep an avid brusher from playing more than three times a day.

There's no price tag, yet, for the kid version of the toothbrush, which should be available by April. The adult version, which looks almost identical but has a shorter battery life, sells for $149. (AP)

Sportswear Firm Gets Gadgety
(AP) A new version of Under Armour's Record app seeks to integrate all aspects of your health and fitness — including nutrition, sleep and exercise — though a few features will require a companion app, MapMyRun. The apps are free and will also work with competing devices, such as Fitbit and Garmin watches.

Under Armour is offering a starter package, the UA HealthBox, for $400. It includes the scale, a chest strap to monitor heart rate and a fitness band to track steps and sleep. Each item is also sold separately. Beyond that, Under Armour is offering a shoe embedded with a chip to track exercise — even without a smartphone or any other GPS-enabled device for recording distance. The company is also making two headphones, including one that can measure heart rate at the ear.

Under Armour partnered with smartphone maker HTC for the HealthBox items and with Harman's JBL business for the headphones.

Most of the items will ship Jan. 22; the shoes and heart-rate headphones will come later.

It's Called a "Welt"
(c/net) The new creations shown at CES included the Samsung WELT, or Wellness Belt. The WELT communicates with your phone to tell you how many steps you've taken, how long you've been sitting, eating habits and your waistline size. It then sends the data to a specially-designed app for analysis, to tell you things like -- if you keep eating like you did today, you're going to gain 2 pounds this month. Samsung expects the WELT to go on sale this year.


And Samsung's Body Compass 2.0 workout suit contains six different kinds of sensors to track your fitness levels like heart rate, respiration and body fat levels. The company hasn't yet decided if it will release the product, said a product manager at the Samsung booth.