Six eye-catching things from CTIA 2013
LAS VEGAS — When it comes to emerging tech, crazy accessories, and carrier news, you can always count on a mobile conference to deliver.
CTIA 2013 was a much quieter show than in years past, with the biggest carriers and manufacturers largely opting out to focus on their own launch events.
While this confab felt the brunt of companies’ shifting strategies, the absence of the brightest stars meant that we had time to scope out other finds that are usually drowned out in the din.
Future shows are expected to regain CTIA’s breakneck pace and vigor. A move to a fall “supershow” in 2014 promises to bring back the mobile product-palooza just in time for the holidays. Fall 2014 is a long way off, so in the meantime, we present you with the most interesting products and announcements from this week’s all-mobile get-together.
CTIA 2013 brings new phones and devices (pictures)
1. Viva Movil cell phone stores
We all hoped Verizon would announce its version of the HTC One during its CTIA press event. Instead, the carrier shocked by announcing an initiative with superstar Jennifer Lopez: Viva Movil.
Essentially a chain of mobile retail stores aimed at the U.S.’ Spanish-speaking demographic, Viva Movil stores will exclusively sell Verizon phones and service. Lopez, who is Viva Movil’s chief creative officer, also holds the majority stake.
2. Kevo electronic door lock
It’s hard to overstate the cool factor of Kevo’s electronic locks for your home’s front door. The power of Bluetooth stands behind the nearly keyless entry, which requires just a smartphone app and the touch of your finger to secure and gain entry to your residence.
Military-grade security layers help manage the app’s security, and immediately wipe and deny entry in the event of a misplaced or stolen phone.
3. Damson Audio Pearl speakers
We’ve seen countless wireless Bluetooth speakers over the years, but none quite like the Damson Audio Pearl.
For $199, the Pearl produces quite a bit of volume despite its small size. The gadget uses unique down-firing woofers to reflect sound off of tables and other hard surfaces. A silicone pad coats the speaker’s foot as well to ensure the device stays put.
Even more interesting is that the Peal consists of two separate units that handle left and right channels for wireless stereo. The product also can function as a speakerphone when connected to handsets and pairs in a snap using NFC technology.
4. Ericsson’s ‘smart window’
Ericsson has taken the saying “window of opportunity” to new levels. At CTIA, the company highlighted two novel approaches of integrating mobile technology into your everyday window pane.
One demonstration embeds a cellular antenna inside a glass, which can increase reception inside buildings and trains — potentially turning a dull offline morning commute into a more productive trip. Ericsson also decked out a window with IR sensors around its edges. With these sensors, users can swipe and tap the window to carry out tasks like switching on a light bulb or turning down music.
Though these “smart windows” won’t come to market anytime soon, Ericsson is scoping out companies to license out this useful, future-thinking technology.
5. Kyocera Hydro XTRM
Kyocera doubled down on its successful waterproof smartphone from last year, and announced the Hydro XTRM. (“Extreme,” get it?)
Available through U.S. Cellular, the XTRM features a welcomed boost in specs compared with the original Hydro. Not only does the XTRM ship with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, it also features a 5-megapixel camera and Smart Sonic Receiver.
Yet, the XTRM’s main draw is its shockproof durability, and the fact that it can stay underwater at a meter’s depth for up to 30 minutes.
Read more about the Kyocera Hydro XTRM.
6. ZAGGkeys iPad Mini keyboard cases
Case maker Zagg announced a pair of impressive enclosures for the iPad Mini. Like their counterparts for the full-size iPad, the ZAGGkeys Cover and Folio add a physical keyboard to Apple’s popular tiny tablet.
Both priced at $99.99, the Folio accepts the iPad Mini by clicking into a hinge; the Cover actually encloses the tablet for greater protection. Another interesting twist is that the keyboard is backlit and offers seven lighting options to choose from. Although Zagg is just shrinking its existing design for the smaller iPad, it’s a relatively affordable and usable solution for a mass-market product.
Zagg introduced finger-friendly keyboard cases for the iPad Mini.