CES 2019: Tech to save us from our damaging digital dependence

CES 2019: Tech to save us from our damaging digital dependence

Most of us depend heavily on our mobile devices, oftentimes too much so, but there are vendors at CES 2019 looking to improve our digital health through, yes, technology.

Seraphin companion app
Seraphin's companion app helps users configure their lighting settings and track their sleep patterns.  

LAS VEGAS: How often do you use your smartphone? For many, especially in more advanced urban cities, our companion devices are increasingly taking over our lives - and we can’t seem to put them down.

Indeed, recent studies have argued that the way we are interacting with these devices is detrimental to our health and mental wellbeing. Yet the impulse to stay glued to our devices remains strong.

READ: Smartphone and Internet addiction can alter teenage brain chemistry, says study

So what do we do to solve this problem? Why, turn to technology, of course.

Channel NewsAsia takes a look at some companies at CES 2019 showcasing innovations aimed at helping people manage their digital habits.


TechDen, the company behind digital locker The Den, has a lofty aim: Helping parents shape their children’s use of digital devices for the better, and break any emerging signs of addiction.

The Den is essentially a physical box that acts both as a locker and charging point for one’s mobile devices. It also allows parents to monitor and manage how their children use these devices via its app.

There are also gamification features, such as setting rewards for when the children check in their mobile devices on time. 

So, if the child locks his or her device on time 15 times in a row, the parent may decide to give an ice cream as a reward, a company representative explained when Channel NewsAsia visited its booth.

Kevin Kuluvar, global vice president of TechDen’s parent company LocknCharge, said: “We want to help families better manage their kids’ tech use and habits … and create simple, positive workflows.”

He added that the device is slated to hit the market in the middle of March this year and will retail for US$229. It is launching in the US, Australia and the United Kingdom, but has “no plans” to bring it to Singapore, the executive shared.

Perth-based LocknCharge has a Singapore connection: Its enterprise-focused mobile device charging and management lockers are currently used in about “30 to 50 public schools” in the country as well as the Singapore American School, Kuluvar said.

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For those that cannot bear to be away from their smartphones, French start-up Seraphin is hoping to break this seemingly unbreakable bond - at least when one is sleeping.

“More and more people are tied to digital devices and from our research, its greatest impact is on an individual’s sleep - (but) actions can be put in place to improve sleep,” said Maxime Elbaz and Damien Leger, co-founders of iSommeil and part of the Hotel-Dieu Sleep Center Paris, in Seraphin’s press release.

The start-up’s “sleepbook” docking station transforms one’s smartphone into a bedside clock, complete with a filter to mitigate the impact the phone’s blue light disrupts one’s sleep.

It also uses a “dusk", or orange, light that its iSommeil counterparts found to be most conducive for people to enter the sleep zone, according to a company representative at the booth.

Additionally, the companion app tracks the ambient noise during one’s sleep and will provide information such as how long one was in deep sleep, how many turns one made during the night and even the number of times a person has reached out for a phone during the night, the representative explained.

The “sleepbook” docking device is priced at US$49.99 and is slated to be available later this year, Seraphin said in the press release.

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This last innovation does not just improve one’s digital health (indirectly), it actually wants to keep you physically healthy.

The premise is simple: PhoneSoap is a charging station that claims to kill germs using just the UV-C lights inside. No liquids, chemicals or heat is used, which may cause damage to the device, according to the company’s website.

Better yet, no more germs to make one sick, or so it claims. 

PhoneSoap germ-killing phone charger
The UV light strips in the middle are said to kill off any bacteria and germs that may have called your phone home. 

A company representative at the booth shared that the company started in 2012 and launched its product that same year. It has since increased its offerings from just a wired charging-cum-cleaning dock to include on-the-move and wireless charing options.

Prices start from US$59.95 while the wireless option will start shipping from Jan 15, the website showed.

Gift idea for that friend or family member who loves to use their smartphone while on the toilet, perhaps?

Source: CNA/kk(rw)