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Robert Francis
Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

5 fun and odd gadgets from CES

5 Cool Gadgets from the CES in Las Vegas Photo Credit: HAPILABS/Lowe’s/Trakdot/Canopy/Vuzix   Credit:     HAPILABS/Lowe’s/Trakdot/Canopy/V   Source:     HAPILABS/Lowe’s/Trakdot/Canopy/V   Byline:     HAPILABS/Lowe’s/Trakdot/Canopy/V   City:     Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS (CNN) — Judging by a preview event at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, one big gadget trend this year will be sensors that track almost everything in your daily life.

There are sensors to track your home, your security systems, your pets, your plants, your weight and, in the case of a new “smart fork,” even how fast you eat.

CES, the world’s biggest electronics trade show, officially opens its doors Tuesday and runs through Friday. But at Sunday’s preview event here, select companies offered the first real peek at what kinds of products we’re likely to see the most over the week.

Here are five of the more fun gadgets we spotted.

The smart fork that slows you down

The HAPIfork from HAPILABS is smarter than your typical eating utensil. In addition to the standard stabbing of meat and ferrying of food from the plate to your mouth, this fork tracks how many bites you take, how fast you take them and the length of your meal.

If you are eating too fast, the fork will let you know with a vibration and a blinking light, eventually training you to take your time. Eating more slowly can help people lose weight (there’s more time to feel full), and also help them digest food better.

French engineer Jacques Lepine invented the connected eating implement after his family chided him for eating too quickly. He spent three years searching for the right sensor, eventually settling on one that completes a circuit every time your mouth closes over the end of the fork.

Naturally, the HAPIfork comes with a mobile app and webpage for tracking your noshing habits. A HAPIspoon is also in development. The fork will cost $99 when it becomes available in April, and the founders are planning a Kickstarter campaign for February.

A hub for your connected home

There are seemingly no limits to the things in your home, such as temperature and lights, you can track and control remotely with sensors. But there are not many good ways to coordinate all of that data, short of having an app for each and every device.

The Iris system from Lowe’s acts as a hub for a connected home. With the one mobile app you can control and check all your household sensors, or you can program Iris to send you text-message alerts when, say, your back door is open.

In addition to thermostat and security sensors, Iris will help you monitor carbon monoxide levels, water heaters, pet doors and the moisture levels of your house plants. Lowe’s promises more sensors to come from such third parties as Verizon, Whirlpool and PetSafe.

If you doubt the need for a connected home, check out the Iris Care service. It lets you monitor an elderly family member’s home and sends you a text message if anything unusual is detected. There’s also an emergency alert button your relative can wear around his or her neck.

Track your lost luggage anywhere

Trakdot is like Find My iPhone for your luggage. The small black and orange box is preprogrammed with your phone numbers and dropped into a piece of checked luggage. If you arrive at an airport but your duffel doesn’t, you can check its location online with the Trakdot app, or get its location sent to you via text message or e-mail.

The device transmits the location using a SIM card, so a few special features had to be worked in to make it FAA compliant. The Trakdot automatically goes into sleep mode when it hits 100 knots and wakes up when the plane is at the destination gate.

The Trakdot costs $50, plus an annual $13 service fee and a one-time $9 setup fee. If you’re a frequent flier who has been wronged by incompetent airlines, you may find it a good investment to let you know if your bag is in Frankfurt when it’s supposed to be in Rome.

iPhone case is all touch

Sure, the front of your iPhone is touch sensitive, but all that other surface area is just boring old metal, right? Not anymore. The Sensus case from Canopy adds touch features to the sides and back of your iPhone, turning it into one big touchtastic device.

When used with compatible apps, the case adds some interesting navigation and scrolling options. It shines most with games, allowing more interactive play without your big fingers blocking the touchscreen. The device will need more dedicated apps to be truly useful, but Canopy has released a few of its own apps to show off its features and potential.

There’s a glut of iPhone cases out there, so it’s nice to see a new entry that adds to the smartphone experience instead of just dressing up the phone. The case starts at $59, and the company says it is working on iPad versions.

Smart glasses, but not Google’s

The Vuzix M100 smart glasses bring the power and features of a smartphone directly to your eyeballs. The company has been working on a prototype of these specs for a year and is now showing off a working model at CES. Vuzix says it’s close to what the final version will be.

The glasses run Android 4.0 and can be used to make calls, watch videos and navigate a computer interface. The device has all the fixings, including GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and 720p video recording. Vuzix hopes to have the glasses available by this summer for Android and iOS.

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