We love tech here at DT and we believe in its ability to enrich our lives. We can’t think of a better way to kick off a new year than with CES, but there are some gadgets on show in Vegas that would give even the most hardened technophile pause for thought. Amid the glittering nuggets of gold, there are plenty of answers to questions no-one posed.
They say there’s a fine line between genius and insanity. These gadgets challenge you to define it.
This ring lets you point and gesture to turn on the TV, switch off the lights, or launch an app on your smartphone. It could make you feel like a wizard, but how much would you be willing to pay for precious gesture control? At $270, it’s not cheap, and according to early reviews and Kickstarter backers, it has more than a few problems.
Digitsole smart insoles
How would you like to get your hands on a rechargeable insole that can be used to heat your feet and track your steps? You can link up to Digitsole via Bluetooth and use an Android or iOS app to adjust the temperature of your feet (separately if necessary). The insoles will also track your steps and tell you how many calories you’ve burned. This first caught our eye last year when there was a successful Kickstarter campaign that brought in more than double the $40k of funding it requested. Clearly a lot of people think it’s a genius idea, but at $200 a pair we’re not so sure.
Sony Symphonic Light
Here’s a bedside lamp from Sony that’s designed to look like an old lantern. It doesn’t just contain an LED bulb inside, there’s also a speaker so you can stream music to it. Sound and light are remotely controlled through an app on your smartphone. Is this a clever design to help render our technology invisible, or a pointless union of lamp and speaker? If you don’t like the fixture there’s an LED bulb speaker, too. No word on pricing or availability just yet.
Imagine a motorized belt that adjusts to your body when you sit down, or extends itself as your gut expands during a marathon eating session. French company Emiota has realized the dream, but it doesn’t end there because Belty can also track your waistline and measure your activity. Alongside the tiny motors there’s an accelerometer and a gyroscope. We’re told this will be a premium product, so expect a high price tag. But do we need one? You could argue that a standard belt is already pretty good at telling you when you’re getting fat via notch technology.
Air2 floating Bluetooth speaker
Believe it or not this isn’t the first levitating speaker we’ve seen, in fact the OM/One looks cooler, but both employ the magic of magnets. Balanced correctly on top of the magnetized base you have a shiny chrome centerpiece that screams “look at how much money I have!” It costs $200 and we’re talking about a 3W output. But it does float, we have to give it that.
SleepIQ kids bed
This is a bed for your child that tracks their sleep, sports a remote control night light, and alerts you when they decide to get up. It could truly be genius. As any sleep-deprived parent will attempt to tell you, as their weary head slumps repeatedly into their coffee, getting your kids into a regular sleeping pattern can feel like endless torture. There’s a safety-conscious under bed light that comes on when they get up, a reward system for sleeping through, and even a monster detector. The whole thing syncs with an iOS app and it will cost you $1,000.
For just $120 you can have a small bionic bird of your own and control it from your smartphone. It has a foam body, and carbon fiber tail and wings, and it flies just like a real bird by flapping them really fast. It even comes with a Turbo-Charge egg. Apparently, real birds are attracted to it and there are plans for gesture control and cameras down the line. Right now it’s ideal for tormenting cats and mail carriers.
Do you miss your cat when you’re at work? For just $200 you can snag a Petcube. It’s a camera with two-way audio, and a built-in laser. It hooks up to your home Wi-Fi and works through an iOS or Android app. You can see and talk to your pet from anywhere, and play with them, sort of, by using the laser. If you’re too lazy to play with your pet manually, you can set a “play schedule” each day. Finally, you can also share access to your Petcube and play with other people’s pets, which is kind of creepy.
The age of the robot servant starts now. Budgee is designed to carry your bags and follow you at a distance of your choosing. You can control it using your smartphone or tablet and there’s an off switch on its head, just in case. It’s also supposed to be able to avoid obstacles, and can carry up to 50lbs and move at four miles per hour. At $1,400 you can guess why the Kickstarter failed, but Budgee is pressing ahead regardless. You can also customize its eye color and voice tracks, though we have no idea how to handle his inevitable robotic rise to consciousness and subsequent existential crisis.
LG Twin Tub Washing Machine
You know what your washing machine really needs? It needs another smaller washing machine that slides out of the base allowing you to do two different loads at once. LG’s twin washing machine means you can do a regular load, but also simultaneously a very small load on a different setting. Is that useful? Do you ever curse the lack of a second washing machine?
The same French company that brought you the Hapifork, which was genuinely designed to flash and vibrate if it decided you were eating too fast, has now unveiled the Baby Glgl. This smart baby bottle tracks how much milk your precious bundle is guzzling, but that’s not all. Thanks to the inclinometer and some light-up arrows, it prompts you to hold the bottle at the optimal angle to avoid colic by ensuring your baby isn’t gulping down air. It costs $120.
Granted, a plain-looking, Bluetooth-enabled plant pot that costs upwards of $60 does sound a bit ridiculous at first, but wait just a minute. If you’re anything like us then you’ve starved countless innocent plants to death through careless neglect. The Parrot Pot can stop the cycle of death by monitoring the soil, fertilizer, sunlight, and temperature, and automatically watering the plant. It has care profiles for thousands of plants and it’s compatible with iOS and Android, so it can remind you to take care of your plants before they wither. It could also save you from having to trust the neighbors with a key when you go on vacation.
You know what you really need to help you quit smoking? A $100 lighter. The Quitbit contains a heating coil and it will need charged around once a week. It automatically tracks every smoke you have and it can sync with your iPhone or Android to give you a series of graphs showing your smoking habits in minute detail. You can even set limits so that Quitbit will refuse to light you up. The makers say that one less cigarette a day will pay for the lighter within a year, but we feel compelled to point out that it’s not really a great quitting tool if you’re still smoking a year after buying it.
That’s our roundup of genius or crazy gadgets at an end, but we’d love to hear your opinions. Let us know what you think of these gadgets and if you want to suggest something else you saw at CES this year fire away in the comments.