6 gadgets debuting at the Consumer Electronics Show that may change lives for the better.

New year. New gadgets. It's time for the Consumer Electronics Show.

In January, the world's best innovators come together in Las Vegas to showcase their latest gadgets, wonders, and game-changers in the consumer electronics space (devices an individual could buy and use in their daily life).

Products like the VCR, CD player, DVR, and even HDTV made their debut at the CES, and each year, tech pundits and trend-watchers look to the event to speculate as to which devices we'll be clamoring for next.


The insider-only event has grown from 14 exhibiting companies in 1967 to over 3,600 in 2016. This year's show, held Jan. 6-9, is expected to attract more than 150,000 visitors.


The crowded floor at CES 2016. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

While many of the products are fun, if a little self-indulgent, there are countless gadgets, wearables, and apps debuting at the CES 2016 that may really help people and the places we call home.

From improving our health to cleaning up the environment, these six items from the CES have us totally geeked for 2016.


1. The Luminion: a beautiful home-energy tracker

The Luminion, a new device by French company Ubiant, is more than just a pretty light. The gadget lets you know how much energy your house is using and, thanks to the company's cloud-based energy management system, lets you compare your usage to that of your community.

That's one badass candle. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

According to Ubiant, the device "encourages users to adopt best practices and reducetheir energy consumption by up to 20%."

So it's no surprise the Luminion took home a 2016 CES Innovation Award in the category of Tech for a Better World.

2. This affordable 3D Pen by XYZprinting

This 3D pen allows you to "draw" sculptures. A corn-based plastic material is pushed through the tip of the pen in liquid form but cools rapidly so the user can draw 3D sculptures without a computer or expensive, complicated software like AutoCAD.

Draw me like one of your French sculptures. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

With an expected retail price of just $49, this pen has the potential improve accessibility to 3D design not just for dabblers and hobbyists, but for students, teachers, and schools.

3. Kolibree's interactive gaming toothbrush

This interactive gaming toothbrush from Kolibree makes remembering to brush your pearly whites just a little bit easier. The electric brush and corresponding app help make proper toothbrushing a fun and playful experience.


Because you don't have to brush all your teeth, just the ones you want to keep. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay is the most common chronic condition of children in the United States, and 20% of kids ages 5 to 11 have at least one untreated cavity. Yikes! A device like this just might be worth the $99 price tag.

4. ili, the wearable translator that's straight out of "Star Trek"

Traveling is fantastic, but rarely does a person have time to master a language before heading overseas. But with the ili by Japanese company Logbar, you can have a translator with you at all times, right in your pocket.

Language barriers are soooo 2015. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

Just hold down the button and speak. When you release the button, the unit audibly translates your words into English, Chinese, or Japanese (more languages including French, Spanish, Arabic, and Korean are coming next). You can see the ili in action in this highly creepy advertisement.*

(*Upworthy does not condone the use of auto-language translators to persuade unwilling strangers to make out, but still — look at those language barriers breaking down!)

5. The newest in wearable tech: smart insoles from Zhor Tech

Fitness trackers are having a moment, with 1 in 10 adults owning some kind of wearable one. But connected foot software from Zhor Tech provides information (and control) the likes of which we haven't seen.

WHAT ARE THOOOOOSE? Photo by David McNew /AFP/Getty Images.

These smart shoes and insoles can monitor physical constraints, alert an employer or loved one about an injury, or even signal your location if you get lost.

Special inserts even feature an app-controlled heating element if you're in extreme conditions. And of course, it counts your steps.

6. Rechargable batteries that don't require a bulky charger

These batteries from USBCELL look and run like traditional AA versions, but when they die, you can pop the top and charge them in your USB port.

Power up! Photo by David McNew /AFP/Getty Images.

The batteries can be charged hundreds of times and help save room in landfills, where billions of traditional batteries end up each year.

These are just a small sampling of the products at CES 2016.

With thousands of exhibitors, there are enough devices, apps, drones, and mind-melting tech to make your head spin in the very best way.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

What a time to be alive!

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This year, we've all experienced a little more stress and anxiety. This is especially true for youth facing homelessness, like Megan and Lionel. Enter Covenant House, an international organization that helps transform and save the lives of more than a million homeless, runaway, and trafficked young people.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is Delivering Smiles this holiday season by donating essential items and fulfilling AmazonSmile Charity Lists for organizations, like Covenant House, that have been impacted this year more than ever. Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a charity of your choice or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down...in the most delightful way.

There are certain songs from kids' movies that most of us can sing along to, but we often don't know how they originated. Now we have a timely insight into one such song—"A Spoonful of Sugar" from "Mary Poppins."

It's common for parents to try all kinds of tricks to get kids to take medications they don't want to take, but the inspiration for "A Spoonful of Sugar" was much more specific. Jeffrey Sherman, the son and nephew of the Sherman Brothers—the musical duo responsible not just for "Mary Poppins," but a host of Disney films including "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," "The Jungle Book," "The Aristocats," as well as the song "It's a Small World After All"—told the story of how "A Spoonful of Sugar" came about on Facebook.

He wrote:

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Courtesy of Macy's

Brantley and his snowman

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"Would you like to build a snowman?" If you asked five-year-old Brantley from Texas this question, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!" While it may sound like a simple dream, since Texas doesn't usually see much snow, it seemed like a lofty one for him, even more so because Brantley has a congenital heart disease.

On Dec. 11, 2019, however, the real Macy's Santa and his two elves teamed up with Make-A-Wish to surprise Brantley and his family on his way to Colorado where there was plenty of snow for him to build his very own snowman, fulfilling his wish as part of the Macy's Believe campaign. After a joy-filled plane ride where every passenger got gift bags from Macy's, the family arrived in Breckenridge, Colorado where Santa and his elves helped Brantley build a snowman.

Brantley, Brantley's mom, and Santa marveling at their snowmanAll photos courtesy of Macy's

Brantley, who according to his mom had never actually seen snow, was blown away by the experience.

"Well, I had to build a snowman because snowmen are my favorite," Brantley said in an interview with Summit Daily. "All of it was my favorite part."

This is just one example of the more than 330,000 wishes the nonprofit Make-A-Wish have fulfilled to bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses since its founding 40 years ago. Even though many of the children that Make-A-Wish grants wishes for manage or overcome their illnesses, they often face months, if not years of doctor's visits, hospital stays and uncomfortable treatments. The nonprofit helps these children and their families replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

It's hardly an outlandish notion — research shows that a wish come true can help increase these children's resiliency and improve their quality of life. Brantley is a prime example.

"This couldn't have come at a better time because we see all the hardships that we went through last year," Brantley's mom Brandi told Summit Daily.

Brantley playing with snowballs

Now more than ever, kids with critical illnesses need hope. Since they're particularly vulnerable to disease, they and their families have had to isolate even more during the pandemic and avoid the people they love most and many of the activities that recharge them. That's why Make-A-Wish is doing everything it can to fulfill wishes in spite of the unprecedented obstacles.

That's where you come in. Macy's has raised over $132 million for Make-A-Wish, and helped grant more than 15,500 wishes since their partnership began in 2003, but they couldn't have done that without the support of everyday people. The crux of that support comes from Macy's Believe Campaign — the longstanding holiday fundraising effort where for every letter to Santa that's written online at Macys.com or dropped off safely at the red Believe mailbox at their stores, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. New this year, National Believe Day will be expanded to National Believe Week and will provide customers the opportunity to double their donations ($2 per letter, up to an additional $1 million) for a full week from Sunday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 5.

There are more ways to support Make-A-Wish besides letter-writing too. If you purchase a $4 Believe bracelet, $2 of each bracelet will be donated to Make-A-Wish through Dec. 31. And for families who are all about the holiday PJs, on Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1), 20 percent of the purchase price of select family pajamas will benefit Make-A-Wish.

Elizabeth living out her wish of being a fashion designer

Additionally, this year's campaign features 6-year-old Elizabeth, a Make-A-Wish child diagnosed with leukemia, whose wish to design a dress recently came true. Thanks to the style experts at Macy's Fashion Office and I.N.C. International Concepts, only at Macy's, Elizabeth had the opportunity to design a colorful floral maxi dress. Elizabeth's exclusive design is now available online at Macys.com and in select Macy's stores. In the spirit of giving back this holiday season, 20 percent of the purchase price of Elizabeth's dress (through Dec. 31) will benefit Make-A-Wish.You can also donate directly to Make-A-Wish via Macy's website.

This holiday season may be a tough one this year, but you can bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses by delivering hope for their wishes to come true.

Anne Owens and Luke Redito / Wikimedia Commons
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When Madeline Swegle was a little girl growing up in Burke, VA, she loved watching the Blue Angels zip through the sky. Her family went to see the display every time it was in town, and it was her parents' encouragement to pursue her dreams that led her to the U.S. Naval Academy in 2017.

Before beginning the intense three-year training required to become a tactical air (TACAIR) pilot, Swegle had never been in an aircraft before; piloting was simply something she was interested in. It turns out she's got a gift for it—and not only is she skilled, she finds the "exhilaration to be unmatched."

"I'm excited to have this opportunity to work harder and fly high performance jet aircraft in the fleet," Swegle said in a statement released by the Navy. "It would've been nice to see someone who looked like me in this role; I never intended to be the first. I hope it's encouraging to other people."

As Swegle's story shows, representation and equality matter. And the responsibility to advance equality for all people - especially Black Americans facing racism - falls on individuals, organizations, businesses, and governmental leadership. This clear need for equality is why P&G established the Take On Race Fund to fight for justice, advance economic opportunity, enable greater access to education and health care, and make our communities more equitable. The funds raised go directly into organizations like NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, YWCA Stand Against Racism and the United Negro College Fund, helping to level the playing field.

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Blackface has a long and shameful history in this country. We think—we hope—after numerous call-outs and emotional explanations, Americans get the message: blackface is not okay. But that isn't the case, as many were re-made painfully aware, when Dr. Regina N. Bradley, a professor and critically acclaimed writer, shared the shocking auditory version of her new essay, "Da Art of Speculatin'", on Twitter.

Due to outrageous oversight, Fireside—a progressively minded short-story magazine who claim, in their About page, to resist "the global rise of fascism and far-right populism"—hired a young, white male voice actor to read and record Bradley's essay—an essay that identifies its writer, in its very first line, as a "southern Black woman who stands in the long shadow of the Civil Rights Movement."

According to the Washington Post, Rineer spoke in an accent that listeners interpreted as something that would appear in minstrel show, an American form of entertainment developed in the early 19th century, in which white people lampooned Black people, often portraying them as dim-witted and buffoonish, with stock characters including the dandy, the slave, and the 'mammy.' It's incredibly, incredibly offensive. So it's no wonder that, upon hearing the clip, a horrified Bradley fired off an outraged tweet, asking Fireside and Rineer if they honestly thought this is what she sounded like.



How could something so offensive have been approved, one wonders, especially in a year defined by reckoning with racial injustice? For the answer, look to Pablo Defendini, the publisher and editor for Fireside, who claimed, "nothing insidious in his decision… he just didn't listen to the recording before posting it."

"The blame for this rests squarely with me, as the person who hires out and manages the audio production process at Fireside," Defendini said in a statement. "In the interest of remaining a lean operation, I've been hiring one narrator to record the audio for a whole issue's worth of Fireside Quarterly, and I don't normally break out specific stories or essays for narrating by particular individuals."

"My personal neglect allowed racist violence to be perpetrated on a Black author, which makes me not just complicit in anti-Black racism, but racist as well."

As for Rineer, he regrets not breaking a contract rule and contacting Bradley directly about her work. His gut instinct told him not to proceed—that he was the wrong person for the job. Still, upon expressing his doubts to Fireside, he was ignored, and so proceeded with the recording—he'd already signed the contract.

"I made the mistake of reading Dr. Bradley's work and assuming an accent that was not representative of her voice," he said. "I had tried to find a different narrator who would be a suitable representative in my network and via public forums, to no avail, in the week-long time frame I had."

As for Bradley, Defendini's apology isn't cutting it. "Not listening" isn't an excuse—it's deepening the wound. Black Women have been "not listened" to since the dawn of this nation's founding.

"I am angry," she wrote. "Seething from centuries of silenced Black women angry."