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Tech companies tackle safety issues with new devices

Safety for babies, bike riders, and curious kids are all on display at CES 2020

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Photo (c) porcorex - Getty Images

Suffice it to say, there’s a lot -- a LOT -- of stuff at the Consumer Electronics Show. One of our goals was to find things that could make a difference in a person’s life; things that could enhance someone’s well-being or make a person’s life safer. 

Here’s some of what we found on the subject of safety:

Worry-free bike riding

Bike riders are often treated like second-class citizens by automobile drivers. As more adults take up biking, the rate of related injuries is going up.

While a bike helmet might be better suited to the safety side of tech, having something that can help you communicate with other people on the road can also simplify things for bikers.

At CES 2020, ConsumerAffairs came across LIVALL (“live all”), a company who’s mountain bike helmet does just that, giving the ride:

  • Hands-free operations

  • Tail lights and turn indicators

  • Smart lighting (that lasts for up to 10 hours)

  • Fall detection

  • One-button click for SOS

  • One-click answer for a phone

  • Push-to-talk walkie-talkie

  • Voice navigation

“In all facets of transportation safety is the preeminent concern, and this is especially true for cyclists who are exposed and constantly in harm’s way,” said Bryan Zheng, Founder and CEO, of LIVALL. “LIVALL aims to create a safe cycling ecosystem; for us, safety is the ultimate luxury.”

A belt that can prevent falls

Would you believe that falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries, 800,000 hospitalizations, and upwards of 27,000 deaths every year? That’s what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

So, how does one tackle that problem? In partnership with Samsung, WeltCorp has created a “smart” belt that has quantitative gait markers that can predict if someone’s about to fall. It also monitors waist size, activity, sitting, and eating (as in you ate too much).

If you think it’s some big, bulky, ugly thing, it’s not even close. The models that ConsumerAffairs demoed were classy-looking (going as far as Italian leather on some) with a belt buckle that didn’t look like a digital device.

Keep your hands to yourself, kid

Whether they’re two years old or 10, kids are curious and love to open up canisters and jars they find in the kitchen.

Enter Cambridge MA’s Varna Technologies and the Halo+, a device built to secure the Mason Jars that adults tend to put (or hide) everything from candy to cannabis in. In fact, the makers of Halo+ got their idea after hearing about the surge of children who were accessing cannabis products parents may have hidden away in a Mason Jar.

“We created Varna Tech and the Halo line of products to allow users peace of mind when storing their belongings,” Jordan Nollman, the founder of Sprout Studios said in a release. “Whether our users are keeping edible cannabis products out of the hands of their children or monitoring their parents and grandparents’ medication intake, or keeping family heirlooms safe, our Halo products can help.”

Halo+ is an app-enabled device that connects and tracks the content of any object -- like a Mason Jar -- that it’s linked to.

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Photo (c) Gary Guthrie

Child-proofing batteries

Babies like to put things in their mouth, right? That’s especially true for things that are small and round, like a piece of candy.

Landsdowne Labs -- home of Dr. Robert Langer, the “Edison of medicine” -- found that there have been more than 80,000 instances of children ingesting “button batteries” like those used in many toys, ringing up both fatalities and severe injuries in the last 10 years.

In a demonstration ConsumerAffairs took in at Landsdowne’s CES booth, we were shown button battery technology that’s designed to deactivate a battery’s toxicity if someone ingests one.

The product Landsdowne created to offset the dangers of ingesting a battery is called “ChildLok.” The company claims that, through deactivation, chemical burns, permanent tissue damage to the esophagus, and even death may be reduced.

The company told ConsumerAffairs that it hasn’t determined a cost for ChildLok yet, but the price point it’s shooting for is “low cost.”

Keeping tabs on kids

One particular product ConsumerAffairs made note of was Elios’ GPS smart trackers. While the device can track anything from a computer to a dog, what impressed us the most was the application it has in regards to personal safety and the locating of people, especially children. 

Josh Cross, Elios’ CMO, told ConsumerAffairs that the company’s only use of a user’s data is what’s absolutely necessary to have the best tracking experience possible. Even when a wearer is “off the grid,” the device’s coverage goes well past traditional mobile phone networks -- a feature that caught the attention of Elizabeth Smart, who gained national attention when she was abducted at age 14 from her home in Salt Lake City. 

“She (Elizabeth Smart) heard about Elios and did a real-life test with us in real time,” Cross said. “Time and time again we were able to track (who/what) we were searching for within two feet of where the (user or device) went.” 

Smart was so impressed that she and Elios created a partnership to “motivate parents, law enforcement and leaders worldwide to focus on children’s safety” using a product like the company’s smart trackers.

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