This year’s CES Show has been all about connectivity, with artificial intelligence and thus the Internet of Things working their way into your health care products, bedroom, concierge desk and home heating systems.
Minnesota companies talked about how the connectivity in products is allowing them to expand their uses, helping customers organize their daily lives.
Take Starkey Hearing Technologies’ new hearing aid, the Livio AI. Eden Prairie-based Starkey, which is the nation’s largest hearing aid manufacturer, said the device is its most advanced as far as its core use because integrated sensors allow it to adjust to noisy environments and reduce the effort that users need to exert to use it.
But it also becomes an overall health device by incorporating a sensor that detects falls, one that monitors heart rate and one that monitors activity. With Starkey’s Thrive Personal Assistant, users can check statistics and ask questions using a Google or Amazon voice assistant device instead of a smartphone app.
Starkey joined Sleep Number, 3M, nVent and other local companies at CES, the world’s largest electronics and technology show held last week in Las Vegas.
The Livio AI will be available in the spring.
Driving into the future
For Starkey, helping to address the issue of falling was a big step in the product’s technology. Every 11 seconds, an older adult is seen in an emergency department for a fall-related injury, with 12 million seniors falling each year, according to the National Alliance for Caregivers and AARP.
“Livio AI and its fall-alert feature will not only provide peace of mind to caregivers but could potentially save lives all over the world,” said Bill Austin, Starkey’s founder and CEO, in a statement.
Maplewood-based 3M and On Semiconductor came to CES to showcase technology that allows communication between autonomous vehicles and roadway infrastructure.
“Our image sensors are the ‘eyes’ of autonomous vehicles, and our sensor technology can enable vehicles to ‘see’ much more than a human driver can,” Ross Jatou, vice president and general manager of On’s Automotive Solutions Division Intelligent Sensing Group, said in a statement.
“Working with 3M’s advanced materials technology enables our sensors to deliver additional information from enhanced infrastructure to further assist drivers … and pave the way toward autonomous driving.”
Daniel Chen, vice president and general manager of 3M’s Transportation Safety Division, said for autonomous cars to drive safely on roads requires them to communicate with each other and the “driving ecosystem” to know where everything from obstacles to curves in the road are.
“That is why we’re excited to collaborate with On Semiconductor,” Chen said in a statement. “Together we’ll take the first steps in creating an integrated system that can help make connected and automated vehicles safer and more efficient.”
Nvent, based in England but primarily run out of St. Louis Park, brought the latest in its Nuheat floor heating technology to CES.
Now through its Signature smart thermostat, the heat can be controlled through voice assistants. The floor heating feature in Signature complements features already in use, such as monitoring energy usage and controlling through an app.
Designed for different audiences
Daikin North America, which employs about 900 people in Minnesota, introduced its smart thermostat that automatically communicates with a home’s HVAC system to improve air quality, can adjust the temperature in different zones of the home and can monitor energy usage.
“We explicitly designed the Daikin One+ smart thermostat for three different audiences: casual users who simply want to change the temperature; homeowners who are concerned about maximizing efficiency and customizing settings to their needs; and finally, it had to work for our professional contractors,” said Dennis Thoren, vice president of technology strategy for Daikin.
Rochester-based Nuu Mobile, a smaller player in unlocked smartphones, introduced its latest model, the G4, which at $249 to $279, has improved battery function and runs on the latest Android operating system.
Sleep Number, which has won awards for both its products and displays at past CES shows, was back this year talking about how its signature beds allow people to monitor sleep habits to improve their daily lives.
The Minneapolis-based company also announced another contract with Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global.
Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian in a presentation told CES goers about how technology improves Delta’s customer service.
Data tools like Delta’s Nomad and SkyPro, he said, are helping the airline’s employees know more about customers as they help them.
Also helping Delta are improved weather forecasting technology; RFID bag tracking technology developed with IBM, and blockchain uses to benefit temperature-sensitive cargo shipments.