Crystal Ball

Steve Lita American Iron Magazine Editor

Steve Lita, American Iron Magazine Editor

Ride to Work

A glimpse into what many of us will be using on a daily basis in the near future

Attending a trade show is like having a crystal ball. I am hooked on trade shows. Just name it, and I’ll try to get media credentials for it. I get to network with colleagues, see people I haven’t seen in a long time, make new contacts, see the hottest new products, and come up with ideas on how to incorporate all this cool new stuff into my motorcycle adventures and yours!

My most recent trade show was the Consumer Electronics Trade Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The timing was perfect, as it led into a motorcycle press launch in Arizona the next day. So why not get to town a little early and get my trade show fix?

The CES is primarily for the mainstream market. There are plenty of TV sets, home audio, and cellphone gadgets galore. This year there were several hot trends; 3-D printers dominated several rows of one show floor, and the catch phrase smart electronic wearables was prevalent. I didn’t spend a lot of time there, but it was amazing to see what people are dreaming up. This show is a glimpse into what many of us will be using on a daily basis in the nearfuture, and some of it is a glimpse into what your children or grandchildren will be using on a daily basis in the distant future.

I posted pictures on social media while walking around, but posting took time away from walking around and seeing the cool stuff. So, believe me, my phone is full of pictures of items you have not seen yet. Some of my favorites include the portable 12-volt air pump with a compressor and removable air storage tank, the high-mounted brake light for the back of a motorcyclist’s helmet, a motorcycle helmet headsup display, and heated shoe insoles to keep a rider’s feet toasty. Dainese was there with its inflatable motorcycle riding jacket—think of it as an airbag for bikers. And Dainese wasn’t the only one with such a product on display. Remember, companies design these products for the mainstream consumer, and an inflatable rider safety vest can protect horseback riders, skateboarders, or skiers. Several companies displayed new tire pressure monitor kits, an accessory I think no motorcycle should be without. After all, we ride on fewer tires than a car, so we need to take care of our hides. Schumacher Electric showed its new Schulink battery charger, complete with a smartphone app so you can monitor your motorcycle’s battery charge status without even stepping foot in the garage.

Cameras, both still photo and action, were abundant at the CES; watch for a 360-degree action camera coming soon. I also visited the manufacturers of many professional still cameras, because we use them so much in the magazine biz. But how about an action camera that’s built into a pair of sunglasses? CES had it. There are those smart wearable electronics buzzwords again. I hope to show you more of what I saw at CES. Watch for some product reviews in American Iron Magazine soon.

Some of the products at CES are already available, some are coming soon, and yet others are pie-in-the-sky dreams that are not in production yet, with companies gauging the public’s interest. Some of the booths were actually crowdfunded projects from new startup companies.

I had a nice conversation with the folks from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and they were happy to show me their giant cat magnet on display. Joking here, it’s a prop they used in a television commercial, a trade show foot-traffic stopper, and hilarious to look at.

Some of the items that caught my eye, which are not applicable to the motorcycle industry, include a smart walking cane for the elderly or handicapped. The cane learns the walk rate of the user and can recognize if the user is walking erratically or has fallen down, at which point it can summon help electronically. That and the polished stainless steel robotic barista making coffee were my favorite non-bike items. Now all I need is a smart, wearable, stainless steel, robotic barista that I can carry on my motorcycle, and I’ll be all set.