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5 Highlights of the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show

Two million square feet of display space. Two giant halls (and some satellite venues) with 3,200 exhibitors hawking their high-tech wares. This year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is overwhelming, even for regulars. (CES runs Jan. 7-10)

Alivecor's David Albert helps Shirley Iodice from the Nevada AARP group test a smartphone EKG app

But a group of 50 explorers organized by the AARP Nevada office set out Jan. 7 with a very focused approach to the show. They were looking for gadgets, apps and products of particular interest to people over 50. Three of the explorers reported in about their favorite things:

1. Kindoma - Connecting families

Music teacher Mark Eisele was most excited by Kindoma, an iPad app that allows a children's book to be shared across a continent.

"Say I'm in Las Vegas," he says, "and I have a grandchild in Chicago. We have the same book open on our tablets. And we can read it together; I can help her pronounce words."

2. " The  50+ IT List" - the AARP new-product shootout

Kindoma was one of four companies to pitch products that have connectivity, family and health at their core to a panel of 10 AARP members. The other three:

  • Breezie demonstrated its simplified tablet designed to appeal to even the most tech-averse. It has easy remote setup for caregivers.
  • GreatCall presented a product called GreatCall Link for monitoring aging parents.
  • Panasonic showcased the company's cloud-based  connection service for caregivers.


3. Wearable tech

Health, medical and fitness apps at CES were of particular interest to freelance writer Eric Miller as he toured with the AARP group. A bracelet that monitors heart rate during exercise, Miller says, "applies to runners training for the Olympics, but also for older people monitoring the [fitness] goals prescribed their doctors." Miller was encouraged that the new class of monitoring apps might help him keep closer tabs on his mother's health, potentially saving trips to the doctor for followups and prescriptions.

4. LED lights to help restore natural balance to the light spectrum

Miller's favorite new thing? LED bulbs from a company called Lighting Science. They add a more biologically appropriate mix of light to the home, to aid in better sleep. The company says its research shows that light from televisions and other sources in our home confuses our bodies, especially at bedtime. Lighting Science bulbs restore balance, the company says, and help us get to sleep and stay asleep, without drugs or supplements.

5. Regaining tech "street cred"

For Rhonda Radi, the visit to CES was an opportunity to get current with technology as she looks for work. "A lot of tech is directed at 18 to 35. There's such a lot of people 50 plus, but [companies] think we're not into technology. And that's so not true.

"We all designed it in the 1980s and 90s; we're the ones that came out with the innovations - and we're all in our 50s and 60s now. We have the time and the money to do great things still, and they're discounting us."

Radi intends to take what she learned at CES and promote herself in the job market as up-to-date and tech savvy. "To see firsthand what's out there in all the different areas really got me more fired up than I've been."

Listen: KNPR Las Vegas interviews Rhonda Radi, Eric Miller, and Jeff Makowka, Sr. Strategy Advisor, AARP.

Photo: Hilarie Grey

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