CES Startup Debut is an event at the House of Blues, and it’s pretty much what it sounds like: a bunch of startup companies get to show off products that either haven’t hit the market yet or are available in a very limited basis. The general agreement between Bobby and I was that there were two big standouts at the event.
First is the entire reason we showed up: Evertune. Basically this is a guitar player’s dream come true. It’s a replacement bridge for your guitar that actually keeps your strings in tune despite the drastic on/off stage temperature differences that are so common. In an interesting twist at an Electronics show, it’s an entirely mechanical solution and I’ve gotta say it’s quite impressive. Musician Phil Gates was on hand to provide demonstrations. He was able to turn the tuning pegs several full revolutions before any pitch change in the strings was detectable. Even after picking his guitar (a notoriously heavy Gibson Les Paul) up by its strings, the guitar remained in tune. The only drawback right now is the Evertune must be installed by someone specifically trained to do so, and there aren’t many people qualified for that at the moment. The cost is between $330-480 depending on your guitar type (plus any installation charges) and could possibly be the best upgrade you could ever make to your guitar. Bass players, you’re out of luck for now, as Evertune is currently designed for guitars.
The other standout startup is Liquipel. This company makes an absolutely astounding claim—that they can protect any electronic device from water up to three feet deep. Using nanoparticles developed by the company, any device can be fully protected in about thirty minutes. The device and the nanoparticles are placed in a vacuum chamber, at which point the device gets coated in a very thin, totally invisible layer. Just about the time we were starting to question the sanity of the claims being made, one of the guys pulled out a tissue that’s been treated by their process. He also takes out an untreated tissue. Both are stuck into a container of water. Obviously the untreated tissue immediately soaked up as much water as it could. The treated tissue was pulled from the water without a single drop on it. To further demonstrate, water was sprayed onto the treated tissue. It either pooled together or slid right off. Then, to further demonstrate his confidence in their product, he took his own iPhone 4S and while we were watching, he just tossed it in the container full of water. The phone was left fully submerged for a few minutes, during which time the spokesman operated the phone.
The whole process costs about $60 and, at least right now, you have to send your device in to receive the treatment—but if you have a habit of dropping your phone into liquids this could be a huge time and money saver.
The rest of the startups weren’t necessarily uninteresting (though some were), but they just didn’t manage to capture our attention the way these two companies did.