MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. And time now for All Tech Considered.
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CORNISH: The Consumer Electronics Show is kicking into gear this week. The annual bacchanal for gadget junkies takes place in early January every year in Las Vegas. The show floor doesn't open to the public until tomorrow, but media were given a sneak peak over the weekend, and many companies are unveiling the products they hope will find their way into our living rooms in the coming year.
NPR's Steve Henn is in Las Vegas and has been checking it all out. He joins us now. Hi there, Steve.
STEVE HENN, BYLINE: Hey.
CORNISH: So I'm jealous. What's the coolest gadget you've seen or heard about at the show so far this year?
HENN: Well, I don't know about coolest, but the oddest gadget might just be the HAPIfork and the HAPIspoon.
CORNISH: Is there any other kind? Is this...
CORNISH: They sound like nursery rhymes.
HENN: Yeah. Well, actually, HAPI is spelled H-A-P-I. It stands for Health API. And this fork-and-spoon set are connected to the Internet, and they monitor and record how you eat.
CORNISH: This sounds terrible, but I'm curious. How does it work?
HENN: Well, basically, they measure how long your meals last, the pauses you take between bites, how many mouthfuls you consume. And if the HAPIfork thinks you're eating too fast, it will vibrate to let you know to slow down.
CORNISH: Oh, God. Does it beep if you're chewing with your mouth open?
HENN: Not yet, although after you're done with your meal, you can plug it into a USB port on your computer and upload all the data about your meal.
CORNISH: So did anything else catch your attention? I know sometimes sort of themes emerge over the course of the show.
HENN: Yeah. Well, one of the interesting things is the HAPI utensils actually touch on a couple of big themes. One of them is that computers and sensors are being built into everything, from forks and spoons to ski goggles. The second trend that the HAPIfork is right in the middle of is this proliferation of gadgets that want you to monitor your weight, your exercise and diet, and then make it possible for you to post all of this information online. A company called Withings helped kick off this trend a couple of years ago by launching an Internet-connected scale.
They're back again this year with more monitoring devices. I actually spoke to a woman in their P.R. department who has now been posting her weight on Facebook every day for years.
CORNISH: That is brave. OK, what I mean, who else...
CORNISH: ...would this appeal to?
HENN: Well, you know, honestly, I'm not sure - dieters I guess and there are millions of those. And then hardcore athletes might want monitors to get all the data about their workouts, but I think this category has really struggled to break through to the mainstream. And I've heard recently that some of the companies that make these devices are talking to health insurers and employers about using these gadgets to create employee incentive programs, which at least, to me, sort of tiptoes into the creepy.
CORNISH: All right, Steve, we've been talking about food and exercise. Isn't there anything for the couch potato?
HENN: Yes. Yeah. There are acres and acres of televisions, and one of the trends I'm going to be following is this effort to get your TV to play nicely with your smartphone and your PC.
So one of the most interesting and surprising things I've seen so far at CES this year is a gadget for gamers called the Shield. It was introduced by Nvidia last night, and it lets gamers stream Android games or PC games from this little tablet, the Shield, right onto their big screen TVs. But that's not its only trick.
Here's Jen-Hsun Huang, Nvidia's co-founder and CEO, introducing it last night.
JEN-HSUN HUANG: Movies work. Frankly, it's a pretty terrific entertainment device. This set-top box, if you will, just can travel with me wherever I want to go, and with a connection to television, it replaces really just about everything I own.
HENN: Basically, this little thing is a just an Android tablet with game controllers attached, but it can also tap into your PC and access all the movies and content in Google's Play Store, and then it can throw all of that stuff up onto pretty much any TV.
HUANG: And so you should be able to sit on your couch, and if you decide that you would like to share the movie that you're watching on your Shield on television, you simply have to beam it to your television.
HENN: So I think for anything like this little Shield to become a commercial success, it has to be simple to use. It just has to work, right? And I don't think Nvidia is there yet. There were some pretty major hiccups last night during Nvidia's demo. But even if this particular gadget doesn't catch on, I think it pretty clearly points in the direction consumer electronics are going to be headed.
CORNISH: Steve, thank you.
HENN: Oh, my pleasure.
CORNISH: That's NPR's Steve Henn speaking to us from Las Vegas.
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