OmniCharge’s new power pack sports a swappable 40,300 mAh battery

Depending on your portable power needs and propensity for lower-back pain, the Omni Ultimate is either a godsend or something wholly ridiculous. The new power pack from L.A.-based Omnicharge has certainly charged up its fans, however, having raised north of $1 million on Indiegogo — nearly 2,000 percent of its initial goal.

The Ultimate appears to live up to its name, with a 40,300 mAh battery that’s swappable, so you’re never out of juice. It’s got an AC outlet, two full-size USB ports, one USB-C and DC in/out.

It’s also, as you’d expect, a downright beast of thing and could probably serve as a weapon in a pinch. Fittingly, you probably won’t be able to take it on a plane with with you. It’s not cheap, either, at $350 for early backers and $399 for those who pick it up, standard retail. The extra batteries, meanwhile, run $150 a pop. It’s shipping now for early backers and could be a lifesaver for long outdoorsy trips.

The company’s also releasing a trio of far more portable OmniMobile chargers ranging from 3,000 to 26,800 mAh, the latter of which is the upper threshold for flights here in the States. There’s also a Pro mobile that sports Wireless charging. Those hit Indiegogo later this month and will start shipping in March.

OmniCharge is also bringing wireless and USB C to its flagship Omni 20 in mid-February.

Nura is courting mainstream consumers with its bluetooth earbuds

Like many small companies at CES, most of Nura’s time this week will be spent in meetings behind closed doors. Among other things, the Australian startup seems confident that it will be in a lot more stores by the time it releases its second product in May of this year.

Distribution for the Nuraphones was limited — no surprise, really, for a young company. Nura managed to strike deals with some brick and mortars, including specialty stores like B8ta, but sales for its first product were mostly restricted to online channels. It’s a shame, really, for the sort of product one really needs to experience in order to really understand.

Still, the over-ear headphones did generate substantial buzz through word of mouth. And while the company doesn’t disclose sales figures, it told TechCrunch that just north of 100,000 calibrations have been performed with company’s app. How, precisely, that translates to sales is unclear, however, as some users opt to share their headphones with other, leading to multiple calibrations per device.

The company has no doubt learned about sales and manufacturing lot since those early days. When we first met with Nura during its Kickstarter phase, there were only four employees. Thanks to sales, crowdfunding and a $5 million Series A last year, however, the company has since grown to around 50 people, spread out throughout the world.

The forthcoming NuraLoop will also no doubt have a broader appeal. The company has dropped the bass-pumping ear cups here, in order to focus on the sound-adapting earbuds. The bluetooth headphones feature a tether than connects behind the wearer’s back.

In the middle is a magnetic module that plugs into the charging cable and can also be used to hardwire the device for better sound. The price will also be considerably lower. A rep for the company told me that it will be around half of the larger model.

Nura also tells me it’s committed to manufacturing its own product, going forward, in spite of early discussions around licensing the tech to third-parties.

“We already were getting [interest] with the Kickstarter prototypes,” cofounder and CTO Luke Campbell told TechCrunch. “There were some larger companies that were open to it. A licensing model is something we were looking at initially, because hardware is hard. We had people telling us not to do it. To be honest, that’s not something that excites me.”

Google Assistant lock screen access is coming to more Android devices

Here’s a quick tidbit buried beneath today’s deluge of Google Assistant news (not to mention the bizarre waking nightmare that is the CES Small World ride). The company announced today that the smart assistant will be accessible on more Android phone lock screens.

The feature was first announced back at Google’s hardware event in October, though, at the time, it was limited to the company’s new Pixel 3 handset. For security reasons, it’s available through opt-in, meaning you’ve got to tick the box in settings.

Certainly adding that kind of access to the lock screen can open your handset (and by extension you) to malicious parties. Though once set up, it will only respond to your own voice (unless, of course, someone with access to your handset can do a really good impression of you).

Once enabled, you can get restaurant recommendations, turn off alarms and schedule reminders, among other features, all without having to unlock the handset. No word yet on when it will be arriving on specific models. 

CES 2019 coverage - TechCrunch

Neofect’s powered glove for people with paralysis is shipping this summer

Neofect’s come a ways since we first saw them at CES this time last year.  Late last month, the San Francisco-based team completed an Indiegogo round, picking up north of $28,000 — around 130 percent of its initial goal for the NeoMano.

The leather hand-worn device is designed to give users mobility in a paralyzed hand, due to conditions like stroke, MS and ALS. It wraps around the thumb, index and middle finger, letting users perform otherwise simple daily tasks like brushing teeth, opening doors and drinking from a cup.

The glove is attached to a pulley, which, in turn, is connected to a detachable motor powered by AAA batteries. A bluetooth controller is held in the other hand to control to open and close the device.

The device certainly looks far closer to production than the prototype we saw at last year’s show — in fact, the company says it’s currently on track to actually deliver the product to market this June. Of course, picking one up post-Indiegogo will likely cost you a pretty penny. The product is currently listed at $1,999.

Ubtech shows off pair of humanoid robots at CES

You’d be forgiven for not knowing the name Ubtech, Honestly, I wasn’t really familiar with the Chinese company until late 2017, when they brought a biopedal stormtrooper robot by our offices. The company’s about to get a pick up some traction, however. Last year, it announced that it had scored an $820 million Series C, led by Tencent.

With that little bit of wind it its sails, the company took to CES this week in full force, showing off a small army of robots. At the center of the announcements are updates to the company’s humanoid bots, Walker and Cruzr.

The bipedal Walker stands nearly five feet tall and weighs a beefy 170 pounds. The robot’s newly redesigned hands are capable of grasping and manipulating objects, while the self-balancing torso makes for smooth bipedal movement The robot interacts with its environment in a number of ways, including voice, touch and vision. Ubtech says Walker will be launching “in the very near future.”

Cruzr, meanwhile, is designed to help provide customer service, making it something akin to Softbank’s Pepper. The wheeled robot is already in use in a number of locations. A revamped version of the robot with an amped up processor, LTE connectivity and improved servos will be arriving soon, marking the first time Cruzr has been on sale in North America.

Specific timing and price are still TBD.

Garmin adds LTE to its music-focused smartwatch

Garmin’s long been a sort of secret success story in the world of wearables. The company rarely gets mentioned in the same breath as Apple and Fitbit — or even Android Wear and Samsung — but it’s found a nice life beyond GPS systems.

One thing the company’s products products have lacked until now is LTE functionality. The option has become a mainstay for Apple and Samsung products, and certainly makes sense for what is ostensibly a fitness.

The option will be arriving first on the vivoactive 3 Music, the streaming-focused wearable it introduced over the summer. One of the product’s selling points was the ability to download offline playlists from the likes of iHeartRadio and Deezer. Of course, having a device that’s always connected via Verizon does render that functionality slightly moot. Though Garmin will be adding some more notable services soon, including Spotify.

The main case use here — as with other LTE-enabled wearables — is the ability to take the watch out and leave your phone behind. Garmin’s certainly built up the feature set over the generations, including the addition of Garmin Pay, so you can buy stuff on the go.

The wearable promises up to five days of battery with light usage. That shrinks dramatically down to four hours, however, when you fire up LTE and start streaming or using GPS tracking.

Pricing is still TBD on the watch, which drops later this quarter.

Samsung steps up its game with the new Notebook Odyssey

Reviews of the Notebook Odyssey line have been…mixed. Hopefully the electronics giant can right the ship as it navigates the tricky waters of high-end gaming systems. At very least, the latest version of the line — unveiled tonight at CES in Vegas — certainly looks the part.

The 15.6 inch laptop features an aluminum design and a display attached with an innovative hinge connected only in the center to mimic a standalone monitor. The bezels have been shrunk down considerably as well, at 6.7 millimeters. The typewriter-style keyboard is backlit, as one would expect from their gaming laptop.

There are a few different performance pre-sets on-board here, too. Per Samsung,

Odyssey Mode allows users to save settings presets under different profiles for various types of games. Beast Mode lets users modulate the Samsung Notebook Odyssey’s performance depending on the software it is running, and the Black Equalizer helps users get a leg up on the competition by improving in-game lighting.

Inside you get an eighth-gen hexa-core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and either 256GB (SSD) to 1TB (HDD) of storage. Graphics-wise, you’re getting an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080, featuring the new Turing GPU. There’s a fairly healthy selection of ports, as well, including USB-C, three full USB, HDMI and Ethernet.

The new Odyssey is due out at some point “early” this year. No word yet on pricing.

Ellcie’s glasses know if you’re falling asleep while driving

It’s no pee-detecting wearable, but Ellcie’s glasses could be a life saver. The glasses feature 15 sensors designed to determine whether the wearer is falling asleep. I got a quick demo today and CES and was fairly impressed with the technology’s responsiveness. It detects a number of different factors, including head nods, eye blinks and even yawns.

When the system detects one of the above, it sends an a level of alert, depending on how far gone you are. That involves some combination of flashes on the side of the the eyes and a buzzing sound. There’s no haptic feedback or bone conduction for audio, though an audible alert is sent to the connected found, which could come in handy if you’re using your phone for audio in the car.

Such a product could ultimately prove useful for folks who have to drive long distances for their job. Certainly it’s a better for one’s health than a bit of the old trucker speed. Applications can be extended beyond there, as well, including fall detection for elderly users. The glasses are actually pretty light, all told, and the company is offering a prescription lens version as well.

At present, they’re only available in the company’s native France, priced at around $250. The company is looking to expand to additional markets, which is what brought them to CES in the first place. Given how the show’s been going for me so far, I suspect I could use a pair a this week.

Even KitchenAid has a Google smart display

I mean, this makes sense, I guess. The kitchen has long been a case use manufacturers have pointed for these kinds of smart screens. So why wouldn’t KitchenAid/Whirlpool want in on a little bit of that action?

The simply-named KitchenAid Smart Display is looks like your standard smart screen — taking a few design cues from Lenovo’s product, from the look of it (albeit with some enormous bezels).

The big differentiator here, however, is Yummly, the recipe search engine it acquired two years back. That offering, coupled with Google Assistant, puts recipes and guided cooking techniques at the center of the 10-inch, water resistant display. Beyond that, it’s pretty standard smart screen fare. You can watch YouTube, create shopping lists and control smart home devices from the product.

Honestly, there’s probably not a lot of reason to purchase a KitchenAid-branded device over, say, a standard Google Home Hub — even if you plan to keep it in the kitchen. But hell, if KitchenAid positions them right (Target, Lowe’s and other home/kitchen stores) it can probably move a bunch of these.

Whirlpool is also debuting a new Pro version of Yummly at the show, which brings instructions from pro chefs like Carla Hall, Richard Blais, Jet Tila and Daniel Holzman to the platform.

Hey look, it’s the Samsung Galaxy S10

Well, what have we here? If it isn’t the Samsung Galaxy S10, courtesy of perennial smartphone outer, EVLeaks. This marks one the first good looks we’ve got at the phone, which is likely due out in a couple of months at Mobile World Congress.

It’s a pretty rough photo — the icons are all blurred out and the cropping job isn’t great, likely in an effort to conceal the source. But it’s a pretty decent shot of the front — and hey, we probably have month and change to go for the thing to start leaking like crazy.

The most interesting bit here is probably the least surprising. After holding off on the notch last generation, Samsung has skipped it over entirely, instead opting for the hole-punch camera design we recently noted would be all the rage in 2019 smartphones. Huawei, notably, already beat Samsung to the proverbial hole-punch late last year with the Nova 4.

The “Beyond 1” mentioned here is the working title for the flagship phone. “Beyond 2” will likely be the S10 Plus, while the “Beyond 0” is expected to be a budget version, akin to the iPhone XR.

Another tidbit from the new leak is the phone’s apparent ability to wirelessly charge compatible handsets and perhaps even Samsung wearables. That would put the product in line with another recent Huawei handset, the Mate 20 Pro.