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August 23, 2014

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Rise of smartphones draws hundreds of third-party manufacturers to CES

2012 CES Press Day

Singer Kelly Clarkson performs during a Sony news conference at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Jan. 9, 2012. Launch slideshow »

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Mobile devices, especially smart phones, have dominated CES for the last several years.

While the major players in the mobile industry like Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Verizon Wireless have booths at the convention, the rise of the smartphone has created niche markets that have attracted hundreds of third-party manufacturers to CES.

On display at the Venetian on Tuesday morning was an array of products to enhance how people interact with their phones.

There were wall mounts and universal charging stations, dozens of cases, even a device that slides on the back of the phone so your finger can slip through it, presumably giving the user a better grip.

Developers of mobile apps were also on-hand, although they were sometimes hard to spot. You can’t display a piece of code, so instead, camera company Liberty Synergistics set up a mock living room display, complete with couches, shelves and a fireplace mantle, to show off pictures made with its product.

The California-based company is marketing a piece of code it envisions other developers will build into their camera apps for smart phones.

Liberty’s software allows users to take pictures from their phone and with the press of a button, get them printed onto everything from coffee cups to mouse pads to phone cases.

“For decades, pictures have lived on cameras. Now they’re on phones, and we’re trying to unlock that,” said Tim Leets, the marketing manager for Liberty Synergistics.

Across the show floor, Josh Brooks was showing off an app he hopes will bring a personal touch to communicating with friends.

His app, Postcard on the Run, allows users to turn any photo on their phone into a personalized, physical postcard they can mail to friends with a single click.

The app is free and sending a postcard costs $1.49. After choosing a photo, users can enter a personal message to their friend and enter a signature with their finger print. Once the order is complete, Postcard on the Run will print the card and ship it off.

The glossy postcards also include a scratch-and-sniff sticker and a map showing where the picture was taken.

Brooks said the idea for the app was born when he realized he had thousands of photos stored on his phone that he never looked at and never used.

“I said, ‘What do I do with all these photos?’ I wanted to find something memorable to do with them, and people like getting mail — as long as it’s not bills,” he said. “There’s still something warm about receiving a personal note in the mail.”

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