LAS VEGAS -- Tech West, the new expo space at CES, is where the quirky stuff lives. Away from big names like Intel, Samsung and LG, Tech West is where startups gather to showcase products you've likely never heard of.
To tackle the sea of bustling up-and-comers, CNET invited these companies to pitch their products at our Tech West booth. To qualify, a company had to have a working prototype we could demo right there at the show.
Most, if not all, of the products in this collection went through a rigorous pitch process to earn their spot on the CNET stage.
As always, CNET's buying recommendations (or lack thereof) will come if and when we can give these products a full, rated review following in-depth hands-on testing. In the meantime, these are the Tech West products that looked to have the most potential during the brief time we got our hands on them at the booth -- the ones we'll be checking back in on later in 2015.
A wearable device for pain relief
You don't necessarily need pharmaceuticals to relieve chronic nerve pain. Quell, an over-the-counter medical device, uses well-established TENS technology to tell your body to release pain-relieving opioids that can help with conditions such as sciatica, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia.
The passport-sized device is controlled by an accompanying app that can be used to set your session length, track sessions over time and monitor the device's battery life. The company currently sells a comparable prescription version of the product, but Quell will be available online to anyone who wants it.
Books go 3D
Kids in need of a little motivation to read might be persuaded with MagicBook, an augmented reality app that adds music, sounds, video and 3D-like images to paper books.
During Eric Franklin's demo (see the video below), his iPhone hovered over the pages of "Where the Wild Things Are" as characters from the story came to life on the screen. The four-person company is looking forward to polishing its app before it becomes available later this year.
Fertility-tracking made easier
One of the best ways for women to track fertility at home is by monitoring small changes in body temperature. This year more than ever, a number of companies showcased Bluetooth-connected devices that help automate the process.
Wink, for example, is a thermometer that relays daily temperature data to an app with tracking and analysis tools. But for those who don't want to lift a finger tracking their fertility, Prima-Temp's Bloom is a cervical ring that automatically measures and logs body temperature with an accompanying app.
It's a paper airplane, it's a drone...
In the crowded arena of grown-up tech toys at CES, the Carbon Flyer stood out. Built from carbon fiber and shaped like a paper airplane, the drone is controlled by your smartphone and dons a camera for bird-eye video shots.
Thanks to a removable battery, you can keep flying and shooting video all day with extra battery packs. If you're sold on it, you can pre-order one now through the company's Indiegogo page, or wait until August when it becomes available to all for $99 (around £65 or AU$120).
A super-fast 3D printer
The presence of 3D printing doubled at the show this year, with expansive booths featuring all kinds of printers, from ones that could print cookies, to commercial grade-types that could punch out carbon fiber objects.
Of the innovations, XYZPrinting showcased t, available for a relatively inexpensive $1,499. Unlike traditional 3D printers that melt plastic into 3D objects, the Nobel uses resin paired with an ultraviolet laser to build object. Translation? Super-fast 3D printing.
A mind-reading headband
Analyzing brain waves usually involves a doctor's visit and a slew of electrodes, but Muse, a young Toronto-based company, has pared that complex technology down to a lightweight headband that can be used anywhere.
When paired with the accompanying Calm app, Muse can be used for guided meditation (or "focus attention exercises," as the company calls it). When the headband senses you're relaxed, you'll hear water flowing; if you're distracted, gusts of wind will fill your ears. For now, that's all Muse can do, but an open SDK invites a slew of creative applications already being developed.
NFC luggage tag
eGee wants to give the ol' lock and key a tech overhaul with its NFC luggage lock. Hardly larger than a regular lock, the eGeeTouch hooks onto your suitcase's zipper and stays locked until your phone gets in close proximity with the luggage.
For this to work, you ideally need an NFC-ready phone (like most Android and Windows phones) or a programmable NFC case or tag attached to an iOS device. Whether or not this will actually prevent people from breaking your luggage open another way is a different story.
LED bulbs that do more than glow
Light bulbs that can be controlled from a smartphone are last year's news. Sengled is raising the bar with a lineup of LED bulbs that pull double duty. The Pulse bulb also acts as a speaker that can play music from your smartphone, and can be used with up to six additional speaker bulbs.
Then there's the Boost, a Wi-Fi repeater bulb that extends your router's signal to the outskirts of your home. Most impressive of all, the Snap moonlights as a camera, lighting up the area it spies on and lets you monitor the footage in real time.
Your phone, fully charged in minutes
Everyone can agree: life with our smartphones would be much easier if we weren't always chasing the nearest outlet. StoreDot, a small Israel-based company, demoed a modified phone featuring an innovative battery that could be charged up to 100 times faster than current smartphone batteries. At Tech West, the company showed off its newer minimal design, which it hopes to license to device manufacturers.
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