Weird gadgets - don’t you just love them? And the best place to see the downright bizarre would be the annual festival of gadget geekdom - the Consumer Electronics Show.
For over 50 years, CES has been the birthing ground for many of the innovations we take for granted. However, it has also been the place of baffling concepts that - the progressive mathcore of gadgetry - a new level of weird that I lovingly called “CES Weird” during my time at the show last year.
So what is dictating the weird chatter of CES 2018? Here are ten gadgets that will have you saying “…wait, what?”
1. TeslaSuit VR
Immersion in virtual reality has been a tough nut to crack. Every company’s attempt doesn’t seem to capture the true feeling of presence needed for a VR experience.
With that in mind, step right up TeslaSuit! This full body second skin of sorts can simulate any sensory inputs you can think of - hot or cold, and even shocking users to recreate gunshots and general wounds.
2. Fun Puppy
Smart suitcases are very much a “thing” at this year’s CES, self-balancing wheeled creatures that follow you through the airport without the need to hold onto it.
Inspired by the Segway, many would say this could be a disaster at baggage control. But others would ignore that over criticisms of sheer pointlessness.
3. HiMirror with Alexa
Peak unnecessary smart home right here… Smart mirrors aren’t a gadget essential but yet, here we are! Acting as a judgemental virtual beauty assistant, HiMirror analyses your skin and tracks changes over time. Plus it can provide makeup tutorials right in front of your face.
Unnecessary, but potentially helpful.
4. LifeFuels Smart Bottle
Why do we need a smart water bottle? The weirdness just falls away in a whole mess of pointlessness. LifeFuels smart bottle tracks your nutrition levels, automatically adding a mix water with nutrients and minerals. Juicero comes to mind…
5. LG rollable OLED display
Now, this is pretty cool. Forget LG’s line of consumer TVs with all the bells and whistles, they’ve made a 65-inch OLED panel that can literally fold and roll up.
Much like a projector screen, but without the projector - this is clearly an extension of their Wallpaper TVs of last year. How this evolves into a consumer product will dictate how big this will become.
6. Dreem sleep headband
When you think of sleep tracking, you either have the smart mattress to shell out for or the limited capability from your smartwatch (which can be cumbersome to wear to bed).
However, French startup Dreem feels they have the answer - a Halo that surrounds your head. This headband trains you in breathing and calming exercises to help you get to sleep faster. Following this, it uses sound signals to keep that deep sleep up and wake you at the optimum time.
7. Buddy The Robot
We saw this last year, but Buddy has returned again in 2018. Basically, this is just a tablet on wheels that has the capability to control your smart home.
However, it’s the personality the team have given to it! Poke it in the eye, it gets angry. Stroke it and it will show its love for you. It’s “CES Weird” at its finest.
8. Short Edition Short Story Dispenser
Another one that hits both my weird list and best list along with the LG rollable display. The concept is simple - got time to kill? Just push the button indicating how many minutes you have and this machine will print out one of over 85,000 short stories to fulfill this timeframe.
It’s so good, even Francis Ford Coppola is a fan. He invested in the tech and brought a machine back over the Atlantic to his Café Zoetrope in San Francisco. It’s a nicer distraction than your screen for sure.
9. Toyota e-Palette
Everybody seems to have been thinking the wrong way when it comes to the future of transport. Instead of giving people the capability to drive to the locations they wish in town, Toyota are going to bring the locations to you instead.
These weird self-driving boxes on wheels are described as “fully-automated, next-generation battery electric vehicles designed to be scalable and customisable for a range of Mobility as Service businesses.” By turning the whole concept of transport on its head, Toyota are really onto something.
These vehicles could form small villages around big population pockets that appear for short amounts of time. As Akio Toyoda quipped on-stage: “Just think how good e_palette would be at Burning man.” Also, kudos if your mind went to I-Robot upon seeing this.
As humanity closes in on a Black Mirror-esque future, we might as well take some of the best bits from the show - such as the light up screen walls. Nanoleaf started as a tiny LED lighting startup, but they have since evolved into a light-up wallpaper!
If you’ve been anywhere near a person with a knowledge of design (hi, girlfriend), they will speak rather lovingly of a feature wall required in the living room. Well, this answers that problem and illuminates the entire room too. Win-win.
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.