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Pittsburgh-area tech companies hope to make a splash at CES in Las Vegas

Aaron Aupperlee
| Friday, Jan. 5, 2018, 11:10 p.m.
Attendees enter the show floor during CES International, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Attendees enter the show floor during CES International, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Several Pittsburgh-area companies will escape the frigid cold and head to Las Vegas to unveil new products, show off their latest gear and hopefully walk away with new business at one of the world's largest electronics and technology shows.

CES opens next week, and as consumer technology tilts more toward robotics, artificial intelligence, self-driving cars and other advancements under development in Pittsburgh, Steel City companies will have a bigger presence.

“There's no better place in the consumer electronics industry to go,” said Bob Fields, chief revenue officer at HiberSense, a Pittsburgh-born-and-raised smart home heating and cooling company that will make its first at appearance at CES. “The bang for the buck is incredible.”

HiberSense, a graduate of AlphaLab Gear, is making what it considers its “public launch” at CES, Fields said. The company uses sensors and specially designed vents placed around a house to heat and cool individual rooms. Artificial intelligence and machine learning predict what temperatures a homeowner will prefer in each room.

After two years of development and testing, the technology is consumer ready, Fields said. HiberSense hopes to start shipping systems in February.

And that's why it decided to book a trip to CES this year.

“Now they can see it, touch it and buy it,” Fields said.

CES is the place to make a splash and meet people. EdgeCase, a Pittsburgh company that tests for bugs and other vulnerabilities in complex software, like the type that runs a self-driving car, doesn't have its own booth but is helping out at another one. Still, co-founder Mike Wagner, has a lot of meetings lined up.

“Spreading the word. Making people realize the value of what we do,” Wagner said. “Obviously, there are a lot of people to talk to.”

There are nearly 4,000 companies exhibiting at CES, each hoping to catch the eyeballs of the more than 170,000 people milling about and that more than 7,000 members of the media looking for stories.

Cheswick-based Dynamics is introducing a payment technology that founder and CEO Jeff Mullen called “very disruptive.” Mullen wouldn't go into details ahead of the launch early next week but said a team has been working on it for five years.

Dynamics makes payment cards that can store the information of multiple credit, debit, loyalty, rewards and other cards. CES is a chance for the company to talk to the everyday consumers who use the company's cards, not just the banks, and to show the banks that consumers are interested.

“It's very rare for payments technology to breach the barrier between what is of interest to bankers and into the field of mainstream interest, and our devices do that,“ Mullen said.

Aptiv, the automotive company formerly known as Delphi, which has about 100 employees in Pittsburgh, will be offering self-driving taxi rides throughout Las Vegas. The eight self-driving BMW 5 series sedans feature autonomous technology developed in Pittsburgh.

The self-driving car company Aurora will be at CES with Hyundai to talk about a new partnership between the two companies.

Philips, which opened a sleep and respiratory innovation center in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood in October, will announce a new product to improve deep sleep. The company claims the product is the world's first and only clinically proven device to do so.

For James Deighan, this year will be his first on the other side of the booths at CES. Deighan has been to CES multiple times to check out the latest and greatest technology. This year, he's bringing his own.

Deighan is the CEO of Clarabyte, a Pittsburgh-based company specializing in the erasure and destruction of data and technology. Clarabyte will be one of the companies featured at the Global Accelerator Network booth.

“CES is going to be our first chance to work with some of our newer consumer electronics partners,” Deighan said. “We found out pretty quickly that everybody has a need for this.”

Clarabyte has focused on large corporations and businesses, but the company is ready to offer a scaled-back product for small businesses and individuals. Deighan hopes to use CES to promote the service.

“I'm going to spend a lot of time away from the booth,” Deighan said. “I feel like I'll get just as much done rubbing elbows with people.”

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at aaupperlee@tribweb.com, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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