Washington area tech companies to show off their gadgets at International CES


Jeff Noce of i4C Innovations sits with his dog Scout. The Old English mastiff is wearing Voyce, a collar that monitors a pet’s health signs. (Evy Mages/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

The International CES expo in Las Vegas, which kicks off Tuesday, has long been the site of new technology announcements and gadget demonstrations. This year, about 55 Washington area companies plan to exhibit at the show, up slightly from last year’s 53.

The group represents one of the most diverse that the region has sent to Las Vegas, said Jeff Joseph, senior vice president for communications with the Consumer Electronics Association, which puts on the show.

Products to be showcased include dog collars that can ­monitor a pet’s heart rate, high-end speakers, speech-recognition software, and apps allowing homeowners to monitor and control appliances in their homes using their smartphones.

Here is a look at seven local companies that are exhibiting at CES.

I4C Innovations

A newly formed subsidiary of Intersections, a software company working to prevent identity theft, i4C Innovations in Chantilly, Va., specializes in pet-related technology. The company plans to show off a collar that can monitor a dog’s health and vital signs, collect analytics about the animal’s behavior, and store it as digital health records.

The collar — called “Voyce” — uses sensors to monitor breathing, heart rate and location, among other data points, which can then be wirelessly sent to an owner or a vet.

“The premise is [that] dogs suffer from 80 percent of the same diseases people do, and the reality of the situation is dogs can’t talk,” chief executive Jeff Noce said. “When they go into a vet, vets are relying upon subjective information about how the dog is doing from the owners.Vets on an annual visit will see them for 20 minutes. When dogs go into a vet clinic, they suffer from ‘white-coat syndrome,’ so they get very stressed.”

The company plans to charge a fee for the actual band — about $299 — and a monthly subscription fee of about $15 a month.

Telcare

Bethesda-based Telcare’s blood glucose monitor sends a patient’s health data into the Internet cloud, accessible through a smartphone app. With the meter, which has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, users can grant access to their physicians or health-care professionals, who can check the patient’s progress in real time.

XoWi

XoWi (pronounced “Zoe”) is a speech-recognition device that users can wear around their necks, translating spoken commands into virtual ones. A user might tell XoWi to send a text, look up an address or make a call — similar to the Siri feature in iPhones, although XoWi’s platform is open, meaning independent developers can use it to integrate with other apps. XoWi connects wirelessly to smartphones through Bluetooth.

“The idea is you don’t have to look at it — the point of speech and voice is you’re able to do things without your hands and eyes,” said Ahmed Bouzid, president and chief executive of McLean-based XoWi. Bouzid said the technology will be especially helpful to visually impaired smartphone users.

Bouzid has already established a relationship with a manufacturer in China, but he is holding off on mass production until XoWi raises more funds. Until then, he and his team are refining the prototype. “Our goal [at CES] is to get a reaction from people about the idea itself — it’s marketing,” he said.

OmniSpeech

OmniSpeech’s software, designed to be embedded in mobile devices and apps, aims to suppress noise and enhance speech and sound quality. Carol Espy-Wilson, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Maryland who developed the software and is chief executive of the College Park company, plans to demonstrate the technology at CES by making an Internet-based voice call, switching Omni­Speech on and off so listeners can hear the difference in sound quality.

This will be her first time exhibiting at CES. “We’re hoping we will establish several business partners as well as customers,” she said. By next year, Espy-Wilson­ said she hopes to embed her technology in hearing aids.

SimpliciKey

With SimpliciKey, homeowners can remotely control physical locks through their smartphones or computers. The Herndon, Va., company is unveiling new features for its mobile app, called KeyCloud. For instance, users will be able to set doors to lock at the same time every day, check the battery status of SimpliciKey locks, and check the history of who has accessed KeyCloud locks.

GoldenEar

Specializing in high-end audio speaker systems, GoldenEar Technology plans to present its newest set of speakers, which are called Triton One and cost $5,000 a pair.

Last year, the company demonstrated its least-expensive speakers — the Triton Seven — at about $700 a pair, said Sandy Gross, chief executive of the Stevenson, Md.-based company. “Our positioning is we make high-end affordable.”

But this time, Gross said he plans to show off the more expensive pair with built-in subwoofers to highlight GoldenEar’s signature technology.

“For us, CES is a very important show to meet with dealers,” he said.

PriceSpotting

Blue Tiger Ventures, based in Northwest Washington, is debuting a new shopping-comparison app that relies on users to help it keep track of the cost of everyday goods at local stores, rewarding them with cash for their participation.


Hillcrest Labs:

Mohana Ravindranath covers IT and small business for the Washington Post and its weekly Capital Business publication.
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