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Two big tech trends kick off Consumer Electronics Show

LAS VEGAS -- Judging by what is on display at CES Unveiled, the gadgets of the future are designed to help you live a healthier life, and to more closely connect homes with the people living in them.

The 2014 International CES, formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show, gets underway this week.

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For live coverage of The Consumer Electronics Show, click here.

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It's traditionally known as an event that previews the next wave of electronics we can expect to see in stores and online.

This year, the press preview show was awash with gadgets that you can wear and gizmos that improve what's going on in your home.

Hello, connected home


Move over, temperature dial. You've now been replaced by an Android interface.

Appliance-maker Dacor showed off a new stove that features an Android-powered touchscreen, which controls the oven.

Rather than expose an iPad to the perils of cooking, the appliance lets you control it remotely (preheat from the office before you get home) and pull up recipes to follow along while right in the kitchen.

"We're trying to accommodate the way people are cooking, not change it," says Dacor's Michael West.

It doesn't come cheap. The 48-inch model costs a cool $12,000, and will be available this summer.

While Honeywell is showing off a voice-activated Internet-connected thermostat, Allure Energy is featuring a thermostat that connects with the phones of you and your family to determine when it should start warming up or cooling down a home based on the location of residents.

For example, as you leave work and get closer to home, it'll warm up. If the kids come home from school early, it'll adjust the temperature accordingly.

Allure's vice-president Jim Mills says smart scheduling in motion sensors found in other thermostats can't compare to a system like this, since it can adapt based on when people are home -- or getting near it.

Time to get fit

While most wearable fitness devices (many of which are watches) require you to sync them with a phone or tablet before determining how (in)active you are, Wellograph's main selling feature is that it can figure this all out on its own.

"Here it is, right there," says creator Nick Warnock. "There's no need to plug it in."

The watch instantly shows basic infographics that reveal your level of physical activity at any point throughout the day, and how much activity you still need to squeeze in to stay -- as the computer determines -- "healthy."

The relatively stylish watch features a sapphire steel aluminum construction that appears to withstand a fair amount of abuse from a sharp metal blade.

Available in April, the Wellograph is, however, on the pricey side at $320.

As well, Canadians will soon be able to buy a special activewear hat that can flag sports-related brain injuries as soon as they happen.

Reebok's $150 CheckLight hat features a slim sensor band that slips inside, meaning an athlete can wear it under a helmet.

It measures both rotational and impact forces, setting off a small yellow light for moderate hits or a red light for severe blows.

The goal is to visibly show athletes, teammates, trainers and parents whether a hit to the head needs medical attention. Over time, it can even count the number of head injuries sustained by the wearer.

Paul Litchfield, vice-president of Reebok's Advanced Concepts Group, says a Canadian launch will happen "super soon," though no exact date was revealed.

Put your money where your mouth is


Kolibree is set to launch the world's first connected toothbrush in the third quarter of 2014.

The electric power brush has a series of sensors that can tell how long you're brushing, where in your mouth you are (and aren't) brushing, and how hard you're pressing.

The device then beams this information back to your phone via a Bluetooth connection, giving the user a better understanding of what they should be doing to improve their oral health.

"Instead of (waiting for) your dentist, we can tell you how well you're doing," says co-founder Loic Cessot. "We think 'Don't brush your teeth longer, but better.' "

In an effort to broaden the scope of possibilities for the Kolibree toothbrush, Cessot says an API will be available so app developers can access the brush's data within their own apps.

A price has not been set, but it's expected to retail for anywhere between $99 and $199.

 

Meanwhile, if you've worn braces, you likely had a mental countdown to the day they were taken off. Now, a new smart device is aiming to cut orthodontic treatment times in half.

AcceleDent is a vibrating mouthpiece designed to accelerate bone remodelling.

Approved by the FDA, it is currently available in the U.S. and in the U.K. Patients who wear and use the device for 20 minutes a day can speed up their treatment time by up to 50 percent, the company says.

A tiny computer chip encased within the device can monitor and adjust the extent of vibration.

If, for some reason, the idea of a vibrating mouthpiece doesn't have you smiling right away, orthodontists can download the AcceleDent's usage reports to their computer to monitor progress.

Just have fun


Not all gadgets need to keep tabs on your health -- or home heating.

Parrot was at CES Unveiled this year with its new "Jumping Sumo" toy robot.

Controlled via a mobile device on the same WiFi network, this small, book-sized device has two wheels that propel it along flat surfaces. Should it want to jump, a special spring-loaded arm propels this "toy" up to 80 cm in the air -- to let it land on another surface like a table, for example.

Pricing has not been set, and a spokesperson says it'll be available "this year." So in time for next Christmas, perhaps?

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